When Jim Haslett took over as head coach, the Rams started looking like a different team. They rattled off two upsets and nearly had a third against the Patriots in New England. Haslett had two of the six wins that could potentially guarantee him the head coaching job for 2009 and fans had a reason to care about the Rams again. Whispers of a shot at the division title even surfaced.
A week after the best stretch of football Rams fans have seen in two years, one quarter against the Cardinals brought the team right back to where they started the season. Since then, the difference between Scott Linehan's Rams and Jim Haslett's Rams has been limited to the name fans and pundits curse in the wake of each week's more stunning loss.
With that, I think it's safe to say the odds of Jim Haslett sticking around as head coach are pretty slim. Duh. I think everyone knew Haslett's job security in St. Louis slipped away with a loss to a team that had been among the league's worst. And now we, as fans, should ask the question whether we would want Haslett back for another year and whether or not he could help right the ship if he did come back.
He can't be blamed for the personnel he has to play with. Years of bad decision making left the team with the talent and lack thereof it puts on the field every week. But still, performances like the last three take much more than just an inferior team losing to a better one. The Rams were perfectly capable of scoring more points and preventing some scores in games against the Cardinals and Jets, and a win at San Francisco was entirely possible. Reading quotes from players bewildered about the disconnect between some good practices and their game-time performance doesn't help the case along either.
Now, with his decision to stick with Marc Bulger at QB, you really have to wonder. I don't feel like an irrational Bulger critic; the line he's had to play behind the last few seasons would injure the conscious of most men, to say nothing of making them gun shy. But given his play the past few weeks, turnover after turnover leading directly to points scored by opponents - the sequence of Bulger's fumble and INT this week was some of the ugliest football I've ever seen - the case to leave Bulger under center completely eludes me. Even in light of his decent play in the second half, I can't see the logic in this one. There were plenty of things not to like about the Rams play the last few weeks - the d-line was every bit as pathetic as the QB play - all of it making Haslett's case hard to defend. Sticking with Bugler, however, might just be the decision that ends Haslett's tenure with the Rams.
Now, what about getting a new coach? One possibility that surfaced yesterday, reported by NFL.com's Adam Schefter, is New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. He could be a particularly good fit for the Rams if he can lure soon-to-be free agent QB Matt Cassel to join him. New England assistants are a highly desired pedigree for NFL coaches, and if the Rams have any hope of courting a prospective coach like that, Chip Rosenbloom's rumored changes coming in the front office at Rams Park will have to demonstrate an organizational commitment to winning, a completely new philosophy for the team.