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Haslett's future in St. Louis not looking good

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It's not a leap to assume that Jim Haslett won't be coaching the Rams next season. How can he? The team has to do everything it can to make fans forget (and forgive) the things they saw this season and last, and Haslett, love him or hate him, has been too closely associated with a Rams team that will be forever remembered as historically bad. It seems like an instant credibility killer to hire the same coach who was at the helm when the team hit rock bottom.

Nevertheless, I feel for the guy. You can hear the pain in the quiver of his voice from yesterday's post game presser. As taiko said in the comments, "Between the Rams and the Katrina-year Saints, he must be wondering what the hell he did in this life to deserve this."

Whether it's fair or not is mostly beside the point. He's been given a terrible team to work with, filled with backups in key roles, players well past their prime, and thick-skulled morons who fail to understand that they're the problem. Not to mention the over-matched front office.

If he has any chance of staying, he'll need to win some games and coax better play out of this team. Right now, either one of those things is really hard to imagine.

What's really amazing is that the players, according to Dan Arkush's report today at Pro Football Weekly, support the guy. Here's QB Marc Bulger:

"He was dealt a bad deck of cards. He’s doing all he can to get us going and motivated. It’s up to us to help him out. I know we haven’t given up. There are definitely some winnable games coming up. I’d love to win the rest and solidify his job.

I know I speak for a lot of players when we say we’d love to try to help him win some of these games.”

What players? I guess this gets back to the talent vs effort debate. But I just can't believe this team, for its glaring lack of talent, is bad enough to get beat this bad on a weekly basis. Is Detroit or Kansas City really more talented than the Rams? That's where accountability comes into play. Haslett seems set to start holding players accountable; he pulled starters and made changes in yesterday's game, including sitting well-compensated Jacob Bell and putting rookie John Greco in his place. He even took them to task in front of the media yesterday, not individually, but we'll see what happens. Is it too little too late?

Haslett has critics around the league, though. And the PFW report features a few prime quotes. To wit:

"Haslett can care less about 2009. The coaches are in it for themselves. It takes a talented leader to work through all the individual visions of his staff in a transition period, and Haslett does not see the ultimate vision.

He has put his stamp on that defense and had a lot of say in personnel since he got there. Tye Hill, Adam Carriker, La'Roi Glover, Fakhir Brown — these are his guys now. He can’t say he didn’t have a chance to pick the players because the coaches run the show there."

The person cited here points to Haslett as part of the problem with the team's lack of talent, getting back to what I said above that Haslett is closely tied to this team's failure. There's more from another source:

"Haslett is tied to (defensive coordinator Rick) Venturi, and they’re playing the same type of defense they used to play in New Orleans. They don’t want to get beat deep, so they play it safe on the back end and give up 200 yards rushing...

They make bad quarterbacks look good and average quarterbacks look great. The Jets blew them off the ball. With the way they were getting rolled up, it’s like they were playing without a defensive line, and we’re talking about a defensive line with two top-15 picks."

Ouch. Read the rest of the article, there's plenty more juicy tidbits in there. There's one more question to ask in the discussion of whether or not to bring Haslett back: what do we expect of him? How do we define turning this team around? Knowing that he's played a role in filling out this roster makes the case for bringing Haslett back a real tough sell to fans who won't easily forget some of the performances they've seen at the Dome over the last three years.