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Haslett hiring shows that Linehan is in it to win
BY BERNIE MIKLASZ
POST-DISPATCH SPORTS COLUMNIST
Tuesday, Jan. 24 2006
Scott Linehan passed his first real test as the Rams’ head coach by thinking
big instead of small in hiring former New Orleans Saints head coach Jim Haslett
as his defensive coordinator.
Linehan’s choice revealed much about Linehan.
This is certain: Linehan is in this job to win.
That’s nice to know. Young head coaches can be terribly insecure. They often
feel the need to show everyone they’re in charge, and part of that is settling
for low-profile, yes-men assistants who won’t pose a threat.
Linehan obviously feels secure and confident. He’s more ambitious than
cautious. It’s reassuring that Linehan didn’t shy away from hiring a strong
personality like Haslett. Linehan doesn’t have Haslett’s NFL experience or
profile, but that didn’t intimidate him into settling for a meek or mediocre
defensive coordinator. (See: Larry Marmie).
Linehan wants to win, and he wants to implement a philosophy -– or as he calls
it a “belief system.” So Linehan quickly recruited a defensive coordinator who
shares his let-it-rip approach to football.
When introduced as the Rams’ head coach on Friday, Linehan stressed that he
wanted the same energy and zeal on defense as offense. Linehan may have a
notably successful offensive background, but wants the defense to be an equal
partner, rather than an afterthought.
By bringing in Haslett, Linehan backed up that pledge.
Jim Haslett is no one’s lackey. Linehan and Haslett spent part of the weekend
in South Florida, checking each other out, and concluded that they were a
match. As an offensive play caller, Linehan likes to attack and make defenses
uncomfortable. As a defensive mind, Haslett likes to press the action and make
offenses squirm. Linehan and Haslett have “edge” to their football
personalities, so this appears to be a fit.
“By nature, Jim is an aggressive person,” Linehan said. “He’ll be selling what
we want to sell as a team. You want to have the exact same message for the
offense and the defense.”
Linehan’s offensive coordinator, Greg Olson, didn’t distinguish himself in
Detroit, where the Lions’ offense sputtered. But if we are to blame Olson for
quarterback Joey Harrington’s developmental inertia, then we must give Olson
credit for the fine performances other QBs turned in while under Olson’s watch.
That list includes Jon Kitna, Drew Brees and Jeff Garcia.
Besides, Linehan will conduct the Rams’ offense. He just needs an extension of
himself -– someone who thinks the same way and can help with the details -– and
Olson is qualified for that role.
But back to Haslett . . .
What a fun twist of fate. Remember how Haslett was the anti-Mike Martz? Haslett
was a despised figure around here, back when the Rams and the Saints were
cooking up a boiling rivalry that produced some marvelously entertaining games,
and plenty of woofing.
Haslett and Martz were always going at it, yapping and posturing, with Haslett
springing several upsets in their coaching matchup. Haslett, of course, once
ridiculed Martz’s “bullcrap plays” after the Saints upset the Rams in 2003.
Haslett and Martz eventually became friends, and Haslett put in a good word for
Martz when the Saints sought a new head coach.
Haslett is tough, intense and passionate, and the game of football makes him a
little crazy in the head. In other words: just what you want from the guy in
charge on defense. From the time he played linebacker in a decorated career
with the Buffalo Bills, and until now, Haslett looks like a guy who desperately
wants to smack someone, or at least gnaw on a facemask.
For two years now, the Rams have been soft, weak and largely ambivalent on
defense. Haslett will rouse them from their sleep. The unit may be short on
talent, but no defender will lay down on Haslett. He’ll kick ‘em in the
posterior, and get them going. Haslett has the kind of linebacker street cred
that commands respect among defensive players.
Haslett angles to be a head coach again, but he won’t do it at Linehan’s
expense. But Linehan understands that he will benefit from Haslett’s hunger and
determination to show he’s worthy of a second chance to be a head coach. And
what better way to prove it than to lock in as the DC in St. Louis, join with
Linehan to raise the Rams up, and increase his coaching stock?
“It’s a win-win,” Linehan said. “I told Jim, ‘You come here, help us implement
our style of football, we do bigger and better things, and you become a head
coach again. If not (a head coach), we continue working together, doing great
Some Rams fans already are whining because Haslett had some disappointing
defenses in New Orleans. First of all, he was the head coach, not the defensive
coordinator. No. 2, he was working for Tom Benson, one of the worst franchise
owners in sports, and a real cheapskate.
The Saints weren’t the brightest in area of personnel, either. Haslett always
seemed to be swimming against the tide in New Orleans. And last year, Haslett
had to push through the devastating impact of Hurricane Katrina.
It was an impossible situation for the Saints. But before the horrific natural
disaster pushed the Saints out of New Orleans and into an itinerant existence,
Haslett had a winning record as their head coach. Only Jim Mora did better as a
HC in Saints history.
Before that, Haslett was the heralded defensive coordinator for Bill Cowher in
Pittsburgh. He has a more-than-qualified resume'.
More than that, Haslett’s sharp elbow of a personality is just what the Rams
need on defense. Equipment man Todd Hewitt will have to work a little harder,
to remove those extra blood stains.
Re: Haslett hiring shows that Linehan is in it to win
Good lord, I should hope that's why he is in it.
-01-25-2006 #3Registered User
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Re: Haslett hiring shows that Linehan is in it to win
Ya gotta be in it, to win it!
Re: Haslett hiring shows that Linehan is in it to winHaslett hiring shows that Linehan is in it to win
Thank you, Bernie, for another chance for the common fan to see the mind of a total moron at work.Clannie Nominee for ClanRam's Thickest Poster