In the midst of officially becoming a new father I kind of missed out on the hubaloo around Rams head coach Jim Haslett's decision to pull RB Steven Jackson in the 4th quarter of last week's game against the Dolphins. Though you knew the flames of a sort-of controversy would flare up when the coach made his post-game comments about Jackson being "gassed."
The brouhaha started when Jackson clarified Haslett's statements after the game. The incident led to questions of a rift between the head coach and the team's star running back, which has since been clarified. Haslett's even gone so far as to say that he'll start referring questions about Jackson to Jackson.
But now, about the decision to pull him. With a close game (the Phins led 13-9 going into the 4th quarter) and the Rams and maybe Jim Haslett's NFL head coaching career in desperate need of win, the Rams could have really used the only functioning skill player they had. Marc Bulger was firing blanks, tossing an INT on the Rams first play of their first drive of the 4th quarter (a pass to blocking specialist TE Anthony Becht nonetheless) that the Dolphins quickly converted to a FG. Jackson had moved the ball well all day, but the Rams still were unable to punch in a TD.
Could he have helped in the fourth? Undoubtedly. Did Haslett make the right call in benching him? That's the gray area. Clearly, with the Rams season all but formally over, putting Jackson at further risk of re-aggravating his injury would only make the rest of the Rams season even worse, potentially putting him at risk beyond 2008. Or was he obligated to win the game through any given measure?