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Haslett is the right man for what Rams need now
By Bryan Burwell
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
Wednesday, Oct. 01 2008
When he strolled into the building on Tuesday morning, it all started coming
back gradually to Jim Haslett. If there was any doubt how quickly he could tap
into his recall of all the nuances of this sudden transition from subordinate
assistant to semi-autonomous head coach, his first 24 hours on the job as the
Rams' new boss proved otherwise.
He walked through the doors around sunrise and began preparing for the long
workday. There were meetings to attend to, speeches to deliver and practice
plans to evaluate. Everything moved along smoothly until about 10 o'clock when
he marched out to practice, patted his chest and realized the essential
accessory of a head coach was missing.
"I forgot the whistle," Haslett said as he joked with the media horde afterward.
As glitches go, we can live with that, because there were plenty of obvious
signs how fluidly Haslett hit the ground running on Day 2 of his new regime.
There's no telling when or how this will end for him. Haslett could flourish
immediately, or flame out ingloriously by year's end. But something is
definitely different around here. From the no-nonsense way he interacts with
his players, to his occasionally vulgar, but charismatic shoot-from-the-hip
style with reporters, the Haslett Era began as an irresistible
The old linebacker is an in-your-face, colorful character who wastes little
time on warm and fuzzy enabling conversations with his players. "The guys on
defense, we're used to him," Leonard Little said with a chuckle. "... He lets
you know exactly what he expects. What he expects is for you to fly to the ball
all the time. What he expects is a constant fast pace. ... And lots of cussin',
Haslett met with the team before practice and essentially reminded his
defensive guys of that, then dispersed some of his tough-love style on the
other side of the ball. "He told them, 'You guys need to pick the pace up (in
practice),' said linebacker Pisa Tinoisomoa. "And you know what? You could tell
that the offense heeded his information because throughout practice I kept
hearing some of the defensive guys (complaining to the offensive guys), 'Hey,
man, let go of me! Hey, stop holding.' And that was good. That meant the
offense was getting in good positions, really fighting. That was a good sign."
I will repeat this as much as I can, because it's always so easy after a coach
gets fired to fall into the knee-jerk trap of "it's gotta get better because
the other guy is gone" without any real justification. This is not "an anybody
but Linehan" deal. That's not what I'm saying, because the Rams could still go
another month without a victory.
But for the first time in more than two years, I firmly believe they have
someone in authority who gives them a fighting chance. Ultimately, Haslett may
not prove to be Mr. Right, but he sure is the perfect Mr. Right Now. When
coaches get hired, they all know how the routine will eventually end. No matter
how good you are, at some point, they ask you to leave. The same folks like me
who are smiling at him on his way in the door will probably be the same ones
who will be suggesting plans for his exit strategy out of Rams Park somewhere
down the line if he doesn't win enough games.
That's the nature of the beast. But the coolest thing about Haslett is that no
matter when that day comes, I doubt if he'll slip into a defeatist woe-is-me
funk. He's not wired that way. He likes a good fight. As he entered the
building on Tuesday, he wasted little time making sure that everyone in that
locker room understands his primary message.
If there's any pressure to be applied around here, he'll be the one applying it.
When someone asked if he had any "fences to mend" with quarterback Marc Bulger
when he quickly reinstalled him back into the starting lineup, Haslett gently
but emphatically scoffed.
"I don't think there are any fences to be mended," he said. "(Players) need to
play better. There's a reason why you get benched and there's a reason why
you're out there playing. I think that the players know that they have to be
accountable also. Obviously Scott (Linehan) was held accountable and now I
think it's the players' turn to step up and be accountable. Marc understands
that, and he understands that I have full confidence in that he's going to go
out there and do his job and I think he understands what I expect from him."
When someone asked about what he expected from his underachieving former
second-round draft pick, Joe Klopfenstein, now that the third-year tight end
has been forced into starting duty, Haslett didn't mince words. "Here's a kid
who started 16 games his rookie year and then he kind of falls off the face of
the Earth. I told Joe, he needs to get back out there and start playing like
the guy we drafted in the second round and be productive and block and run the
right routes. I'm expecting Joe to step up to the plate here."
Circumstances change in this league not just day to day, but play to play. But
as we see here in the early days of Rams Park perestroika, Haslett is every bit
the right man at the right time to help kick-start this massive cultural
overhaul. Before you start to rebuild, you need to know what sort of materials
you have to work with. This organization needs answers to some very tough
questions. Did they get here because of bad drafting, bad coaching, bad players
or bad luck?
Haslett can't worry about the drafting issues. But he's saying all the right
things about discovering who can play and who wants to play, and providing pink
slips to all those who have no inclination for either. "I think some of the
younger guys we have need to step up and play," he said. "I don't know if
they're kids, but they've been out here long enough and they need to play."
Re: Haslett is the right man for what Rams need now:ramlogo:
Re: Haslett is the right man for what Rams need nowAnd lots of cussin', too."
Know what the @#$& I mean?"Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod
Re: Haslett is the right man for what Rams need nowI hate that! Why the $@%& does he have to use such mo%$#er f@%#$in' bad language. I mean it's just so @&#$%in' ridiculous!
Know what the @#$& I mean?
Seriously they could talk all day about this practice stuff until I see a fire from the team on the playing field I dont shiv a git.I find it quite funny that the 32nd ranked defense has something to say like they needed to motivate the offense. If Haslett brings fire then great like I said though negative or not I will hold my enthusiasm until we take the field in Washington.LET'S GO DODGERS
-10-01-2008 #5Registered User
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