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Linehan calls Haslett 'a great fit' for Rams
By R.B. Fallstrom
Associated Press Sportswriter
The last of Jim Haslett's six seasons as New Orleans Saints coach was a disaster built upon the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina.
Away from that turmoil and the 3-13 record it produced, he'll try to rebuild his career as the St. Louis Rams' defensive coordinator.
"He's a guy who has been through it all, and it won't be long before he's a head coach again," new Rams coach Scott Linehan said Tuesday. "I know that and I'm realistic about it.
"I really believe he's exactly what we're looking for."
The Rams also named Greg Olson as offensive coordinator. He spent the past two seasons with Detroit, first as quarterbacks coach. Last season, he was co-offensive coordinator and called plays the last five games after Steve Mariucci was fired and offensive coordinator Ted Tollner was demoted.
Linehan also has retained wide receivers coach Henry Ellard and strength coach Dana LeDuc from the current staff, and hopes to announce more hires in the next few days. He said LeDuc is widely respected in the NFL and that the Rams' route-running ability reflects upon Ellard's abilities.
But, as he said in his introductory news conference, choosing a defensive coordinator was his most important hire.
"(If) he gets another head coaching job, that's a good thing, that means we've done well," Linehan said. "My job is to hire a good staff under Jim so that we can promote from within.
"I wouldn't look at that as a risk, I'd look at it as a win-win situation."
For years, Haslett was a sometimes bitter rival of the Rams when the Saints and Rams were both in the NFC West. The Saint's playoff win over the Rams in 2000 ended St. Louis' quest for a second straight Super Bowl title. It was the only playoff win in Saints history, and Haslett was the NFL coach of the year.
Haslett was 45-51 at New Orleans with only the one playoff appearance and had a losing record his last three seasons. The Saints were displaced by Hurricane Katrina last season, playing home games in Baton Rouge, La., San Antonio and New Jersey.
Haslett, fired the day after the season ended, was also a finalist for the heading coaching job in Buffalo that went to Dick Jauron. He's also been defensive coordinator for the Saints for one season and for the Steelers for three seasons, and now takes on the task of rebuilding the NFL's 30th-ranked defense.
Linehan said Haslett convinced him he simply wanted to get back into coaching at any level.
"He's a football coach and wants to go to the best place available," Linehan said. "He's a great fit."
As a former head coach, Linehan said Haslett can help with advice.
"I don't know that many people have gone through the ups and downs of a head coach like Jim has, especially last year," Linehan said. "People know how grueling and tough that year was for the organization and he's really held it together."
Olson is 42, the same age as Linehan, and both have coached under Linehan's mentor Dennis Erickson although this will be the first time they've worked together. Olson was quarterbacks coach at San Francisco in 2001, and at Chicago in 2003.
Linehan said at his introductory news conference Friday that he will call plays, but emphasized on Tuesday that Olson will have plenty to do. Olson will be help evaluate players and have the lead role in developing and grooming the quarterbacks.
"Calling the plays is one thing," Linehan said. "But on a day to day basis, implementing the plan and evaluating the personnel as an entire group, he'll have a big input."