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  1. #1
    RamWraith's Avatar
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    Rams' Futility Might Well Sink Haslett

    By Bernie Miklasz
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    12/11/2008

    Sure, there are uglier high-profile jobs than being the head coach of the St. Louis Rams. For instance, you might be asked to provide legal representation for Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Or perhaps you're the genius at NBC who decided it was a fantastic idea to give Rosie O'Donnell a prime-time variety show.

    After Jim Haslett took over as head coach on Sept. 28, the Rams responded with energetic wins over Washington and Dallas, but the instant success was a fluke that created false hope.

    The euphoria soon faded. Hello, reality. The Rams have lost their last seven games under Haslett, getting outscored 216-73. There have been some brutal losses along the way, as gruesome as anything we saw under previous coach Scott Linehan.

    Candidly, it will be difficult for Rams management to retain Haslett for 2009. This wreck of a franchise isn't Haslett's fault. He's not responsible for the destruction of an entity that was competing in Super Bowls less than a decade ago. The poor drafts and incomprehensible personnel decisions orchestrated by general manager Jay Zygmunt and coaches Mike Martz and Linehan set the Rams spiraling into a freefall, and the Rams face a massive rebuilding project.

    Sunday, when I chatted with Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner after his team's 34-10 win over the Rams, ol' No. 13 expressed his sadness over seeing his former team in such sorry shape. Warner offered the suggestion that it's important for the Rams to change the losing culture. Warner made the remark out of genuine concern; there was no malice in his comments.

    There is some support for Haslett in the organization. At least for now, Haslett's backers include vice president of personnel Billy Devaney and ownership partner Lucia Rodriguez. It is believed that Rams president John Shaw is in favor of hiring a new coach. The final call belongs to Rams managing ownership partner Chip Rosenbloom.

    Rosenbloom likes Haslett personally, but Rosenbloom is also in the business of selling tickets, and Haslett would be a tough sell for next season. The Rams are understandably worried about taking a big hit on ticket sales for 2009, especially during these brutal economic conditions.

    The worst thing Rosenbloom can do is maintain the status quo. The organization and the fans are desperate for change. I don't claim to speak for Rams fans, but I do hear from them, and I do interact with them on my forum at STLtoday.com.

    The fan base has lost faith in the current leadership at Rams Park, with Devaney, the relative newcomer, being the lone exception. Rosenbloom is already dealing with the issue. Zygmunt is in his final weeks as the GM. Shaw is set to retire, but will likely serve as a personal adviser to Rosenbloom. And it's almost certain that Devaney will have expanded powers in the reorganization.

    The Rams have won the fewest games (five) of any NFL team over the last two seasons. They've hit bottom, and I doubt that Haslett can survive the looming shakeup. Nothing is absolute, however. Given Rosenbloom's fondness of Haslett, it's conceivable that the coach could save his job by winning two of the final three games.

    But in the grand scheme, would that really matter? Rosenbloom must strengthen trust and credibility by giving his customers a reason to believe he's determined to take the franchise in a new direction. That begins with new leadership. It's nearly impossible to make that case if management retains key figures who have been tainted by the chronic losing. And that includes Haslett.

    Rosenbloom and Shaw will be in town over the next several days, to hold meetings. It's the first step in charting a course for 2009.

    Dumping another head coach is the easy part.

    The critical challenge is finding the right coach.

    The Rams aren't the wealthiest franchise and won't get involved in a bidding war for Bill Cowher or Marty Schottenheimer. Besides, this isn't an appealing job. Why would a coveted coach want to come here?

    Most likely, the Rams would look to a recycled head coach, take a chance on a hungry college coach, or pursue a respected NFL assistant.

    I'm strongly inclined to believe they'd go for an assistant. In his last job, at Atlanta, Devaney was an integral part of the process that led to the Falcons' successful hiring of Mike Smith, the Jacksonville defensive coordinator. Devaney would have a head start in this process because he did the advance scouting for coaching candidates in Atlanta.

    Names? Here are a few: NY Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, Arizona assistant head coach Russ Grimm, Tennessee Titans defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, Baltimore defensive coordinator Rex Ryan, Tennesse offensive line coach Mike Munchak, Tampa Bay defensive backs coach Raheem Morris, and Stanford head coach Jim Harbaugh. But more names will surface. And some of the coaches mentioned here (especially Spagnuolo) will have more attractive options.

    Rosenbloom and Devaney are new to the scene at Rams Park. They didn't create this losing culture. But it's their duty to change it.


  2. #2
    Truth's Avatar
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    Re: Rams' Futility Might Well Sink Haslett

    Wow Bernie, good article. I found myself agreeing with most of the points made. I firmly believe that this organization needs to be torn down to be built back up again properly.

    I think we have more talent on this team than most people believe. However, without leadership and guidance we will continue to lose, players will not develop their full potential, and top FAs and coaches will aviod us like the plague.

    How many times have we seen players that were under-performing here, leave and find new life and a productive career with other teams? I'm not sure that finding talent is our problem; it's knowing what to do with it once we get it. That's why I think this coaching staff needs to go.

    Leadership on the field should also be a concern. There are a few standout veterans on this team. Although none of us are in the locker room, we do hear these guys in interviews, and we hear commentary from insiders that can comment. What we've been hearing from some of those "leaders" on the team is disturbing. Jackson seems to be constantly at odds with Haslett about his status. From the beginning of training camp Torry Holt seems to have distanced himself from this organization (he certainly doesn't seem to have the same fire on the field). While Marc Bulger has always been quiet, he seems to be more so this season, and when he does speak, he seems to be angry or upset (of course he's spent most of this season defending himself). We hear and see little of Pace. Leonard Little, L'roi Glover, Will Witherspoon go to the sidelines after the defensive series and plop down on the bench. I see coaches wandering around in a daze. Haslett paroles the sideline in an almost constant state of aggrevation (and nobody cares). This team NEEDS new direction, and should expect its veterans to provide leadership in the locker room and on the field. Can we please just get one guy like Ray Lewis on each side of the ball, that no one wants to let down. Someone who inspires and leads. It's not like we haven't had it before. We just let those guys go (Fletcher, Bly, Bruce, Carter, Zgonina, Wistrom, to name a few).

    When I read or listen to interviews of players from winning franchises or from teams that became dynasties, they all say the same thing, "you can't underestimate the importance of team chemistry." What we have with the Rams right now, is a chemistry experiment gone very wrong. Not only do the chemicals we've mixed smell bad, the fumes are noxious and deadly.

    ...So, now, like Bernie, my rambling disertation about the Rams future can be boiled down to this, "Rosenbloom and Devaney are new to the scene at Rams Park. They didn't create this losing culture. But it's their duty to change it."
    That's my story, and I'm sticking to it!!

  3. #3
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    Re: Rams' Futility Might Well Sink Haslett

    Quote Originally Posted by RamWraith View Post
    By Bernie Miklasz


    The Rams aren't the wealthiest franchise and won't get involved in a bidding war for Bill Cowher or Marty Schottenheimer. Besides, this isn't an appealing job. Why would a coveted coach want to come here?

    How sad is that statement?! When Martz took over who wouldn't have wanted to have that team handed over to them. Now we're the Bengals.

    My hat's off to all of those who have been running the team for the last seven years. I hope you feel good cashing them checks!

    Jesus, if they were driving me in a car I would jump out while it was still moving!
    "The disappointment of losing is huge!"

    Jack Youngblood

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    Re: Rams' Futility Might Well Sink Haslett

    I, too, feel the major housecleaning that must be done should also include the coaching staff. You need to purge yourself of all links to the losing. And while Haslett, as Bernie pointed out, is not solely responsible for this mess he had dumped in his lap, he certainly hasn't inspired these guys to play great football over the past seven weeks. They're listless, execute poorly, play with no fire and appear uninspired- all damning indictments of not only themselves but the coaches as well.

    I don't entirely agree with the logic of "not getting into a bidding war" for Cowher or anyone else". Truth be told, success breeds more success. If you pay handsomely for a proven coach who in turn brings visibility and success to your franchise, you will make that money back at the gate and elsewhere ten fold. You don't become a winner by being cheap and thru bargain hunting.

  5. #5
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    Re: Rams' Futility Might Well Sink Haslett

    I hope we avoid that "bidding war" that might exist for Cowher. Frankly, it's not a given he will even return to coaching next year. I hope we connect with one of the up-and-coming coordinators, Jim Schwartz is on my radar screen for his instinctive smarts and technical knowledge. Boy, we could sure use a Jeff Fisher clone. Just like the presidential race, even though McCain had some good points he wasn't going to win just because this country needed a change and Obama was it. That is the case with the Rams they need a change, big time!

    Go Rams!

  6. #6
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    Re: Rams' Futility Might Well Sink Haslett

    I like Jim Schwartz of the list he gives.
    :ramlogo:

  7. #7
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    Re: Rams' Futility Might Well Sink Haslett

    I agree NJRAMS, the rams need to spend the doe, on a proven winner: Cowher, success is contagious and he is one guy who CAN turn things around. I don't believe the crap that " we don't have the money $$, blah blah". Bullcrap, spend the money and reap the benefits from it. Don't be Cheap Rams. Don't go out and get a Band-aid solution to the problem.

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    Re: Rams' Futility Might Well Sink Haslett

    I hardly think that getting a guy like Spagnuolo or Schwartz would be just a band-aid solution.

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    Re: Rams' Futility Might Well Sink Haslett

    They can't possibly think about retaining Haslett. Before he because our 2-7 coach, he was the architect of one of the worst defenses in the league for 2+ seasons. This losing culture is like a cancer- you need to cut it all out of it will just come back and spread. Haslett is just as big a part of this disease as anyone else who's been leading this team.

  10. #10
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    Re: Rams' Futility Might Well Sink Haslett

    I think Long might be that leader on the D side of the ball. And if Jax can come back mext year and play well for 16 games he might be the leader of the O.

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    Re: Rams' Futility Might Well Sink Haslett

    Quote Originally Posted by Rambos View Post
    I think Long might be that leader on the D side of the ball. And if Jax can come back mext year and play well for 16 games he might be the leader of the O.
    I agree that Long has the qualities to become a leader. But, he's a rookie this season, and he has to establish himself as a force on the D-Line. As for Jackson, he needs to stop self-centered whinning, complaining, and airing dirty laundry in public before he could even be considered the type of leader that can help this team. There's an old saying, "In order to become a good leader, you must first learn to be a good follower." I think Jackson's first years here behind Faulk showed that he wasn't a very good follower. If you can't shut your pie hole and learn from someone like Faulk, you have problems.
    That's my story, and I'm sticking to it!!

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