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Pasquarelli: Haslett off to fast start in St. Louis
Len Pasquarelli, ESPN.com
Of the 10 head coaches who either retired or were fired after the 2005 season, seven found work as either assistant head coaches or coordinators on new staffs. And all seven -- Dom Capers, Jim Haslett, Mike Martz, Mike Mularkey, Mike Sherman, Mike Tice and Norv Turner -- figure to be candidates again for head coaching gigs somewhere down the road.
But the guy in that group who could find the speediest road back to the head coach ranks, and who took a pretty nice first step last week toward rehabilitating his image, is certainly Haslett. In his new role as the St. Louis Rams' defensive coordinator, Haslett has embarked on a wholesale overhauling of what has been a pretty bad unit. And he's thrown himself into it with the same kind of energy and verve, and blessedly, less of a personal agenda, than he demonstrated during his six seasons as the New Orleans Saints' head coach.
St. Louis had four new starters on defense in its opening-game victory over Denver. The Rams, who often eschewed defensive prospects during Martz's tenure as head coach, used three of their first four selections in this year's draft on defensive players. And, not surprisingly, Haslett installed a sophisticated and aggressive scheme; the playbook includes nearly 70 different blitz calls. The players love the new scheme and seem to love playing for the fiery Haslett, too.
"He's really creative but, just as important, he's a little bit crazy, in a good way," said linebacker Will Witherspoon, the former Carolina Panthers' weakside star who has moved to the middle in St. Louis. "We feed off of that. Some of the stuff he put in during camp or [the offseason], maybe we questioned, but he always had a good explanation for it. And that's all guys ever ask. He puts us in a good position to get after people, and that's how every [defender] wants to play."
First-year head coach Scott Linehan, who really didn't know Haslett at all, took a bit of a gamble when he hired him as defensive coordinator. Some less confident and less secure rookie coaches might not have wanted a guy on their staff who had been a head coach in the league before. Too much to fret about in terms of the assistant maybe being after your job, you know? But Linehan made a solid pick in Haslett, and the Rams may have their most respectable defense in many years, thanks to that choice.
As for Haslett, who was stunned by the lack of interest in him from franchises which made head coaching changes in the offseason, the best thing he can do is tend to the resurrected defense and not fret about things he can't control. In the past, Haslett has sometimes let his emotions get the better of him and allowed things to come out publicly that are better left in-house, and he has been perceived as a coach who didn't take accountability for the shortcomings of his Saints teams.
If he is going to be a head coach again, Haslett will have to prove, at some point and to some NFL owner, that he is beyond those things. But most important, he'll have to prove he can still coach, and he took a good step in that regard last week.
Re: Pasquarelli: Haslett off to fast start in St. Louis
PLEASEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE God and Georgia let us have haslett for more than one year!!!!!