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Haslett makes the best of another tough situation
STLTODAY.COM SPORTS COLUMNIST
Jim Haslett smiles while reflecting on his tenure with the Saints. He can tick off the names of his administrators, assistant coaches and coordinators who went on to bigger and better things after New Orleans.
Former Saints defensive coordinator Ron Zook is doing big things as head coach at Illinois, after an unhappy departure from the University of Florida.
Former Saints offensive coordinator Mike McCarthy is doing good work as head coach of the Green Bay Packers. He made the tough call not to welcome back flighty franchise icon Brett Favre -– and the decision appears to be paying off.
Mike Riley, who spent a year on Haslett’s staff after the Chargers fired him, has led Oregon State back to national prominence.
All those guys got first, second or third opportunities to run their own program. When, Haslett wondered, would he get another good opportunity himself?
This appears to be it.
As interim coach of the St. Louis Rams, Haslett made headlines by leading this downtrodden team to upset victories over Washington and Dallas.
The industry noticed the turnaround. Patriots coach Bill Belichick -– another NFL coach doing better on his second go-around -– gave Haslett a shout-out during his conference call with St. Louis reporters Wednesday morning.
“Jim was pretty successful in New Orleans, too,” Belichick said. “I would say that was a pretty positive performance down there, especially given some of the circumstances that he had to deal with.”
Haslett, of course, had to guide the Saints in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Massive storm damage displaced the team and everybody associated with it.
As coach of the Browns, Belichick was at the helm when Art Modell moved the franchise. So he can relate, to a degree.
“I know that myself from having been in a situation that was somewhat similar to that with the team moving in ’95 to Baltimore,” Belichick said. “So in the end, that makes it pretty difficult just to go through the normal day-to-day stuff, let alone comprise a football team.
“Regardless, I think Jim was very successful in New Orleans and I’m sure he’ll be successful there in St. Louis, as he already has been.”
Haslett’s task this season is to make the best of what is already in place. Midway into a season, he can’t change the program Scott Linehan put in place. He can only adjust it.
Whatever lessons Haslett learned in New Orleans are difficult to apply with the Rams, given the restrictions with this assignment.
“I haven’t done anything different just because I didn’t have a whole offseason to really do what you would do if you had changed practice schedules, meeting times, you know all that stuff,” Haslett said during his Wednesday media briefing.
“Basically, I’m going off the old practice schedule with some changes and really kind of keeping on schedule with what we were doing, but with some of my thoughts. Nothing major, because when you walk into a job in the middle of the season, it’s hard to say, ‘Hey, I want to do this, I think I’m going to do this, I’m going to start this in the offseason.’ We really didn’t have the luxury to do that.”
What Haslett HAS done is change the atmosphere at Rams Park. Everybody is upbeat again. Most of the players are performing up to their capabilities for a change. They are having fun again.
They are playing loose and playing with confidence. Their practices are much more productive.
“You’ll see him out there, running to the ball with us,” defensive tackle Clifton Ryan said. “He’s an in-your-face kind of guy. Not necessarily putting you down. He wants the best out of you. He wants the maximum effort every snap, offense, defense, special teams. He wants to win. He’s a competitor.
“You guys are around him just like we’re around him. He’s a very cocky, confident guy, Not cocky in a bad way. He just has that confidence. He wants to go out there every Sunday, compete and win.”
Chip Rosenbloom must be pleased. If Haslett can sustain this turnaround, he will get the head-coaching job on a more permanent basis.
Then he will be back on top of an operation, doing it his way -- like so many of his colleagues from those days in New Orleans.
-10-25-2008 #2ramfan247 Guest
Re: Haslett makes the best of another tough situation
Haslett seems like GOOD NEWS for this organization! He seems to have the perfect balance of being a players coach and knowin the game in and out. I like the guy!
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