Rams rebounding with Haslett at the helm - East Valley Tribune: Sports

Rams rebounding with Haslett at the helm

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Posted: Thursday, October 30, 2008 11:40 pm | Updated: 10:38 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Specifics were sparse, as though it were difficult to articulate exactly what has altered the St. Louis Rams' season.

Something has because the Rams:

Began training camp with their franchise player, running back, Steven Jackson, in a messy contract holdout.

Opened 0-4.

Went through a brief quarterback change.

Had players publicly question coach Scott Linehan, who was then fired.

Defensive coordinator and former New Orleans Saints coach Jim Haslett was promoted during the team's bye in Week 5.

Whether or not correlation is causation, Haslett has made a difference.

The Rams used to be on the bottom of the NFL's barrel, but under Haslett they immediately won consecutive games - at Washington and against Dallas - and lost 23-17 at New England last week without the injured Jackson - a game in which the Patriots weren't flagged for a single penalty.

That move prompted the Rams to send in game tapes to the league for explanation, but for now, the Rams (2-5) enter Sunday's game against the Cardinals only two games behind in division play.

St. Louis lost 31-14 against Buffalo on Sept. 28, and Linehan was fired the following day, but something else happened.

"That final game, we played well through the third quarter and somewhere in the fourth we just lost it," said Rams receiver Torry Holt, one of a handful of Rams remaining from their "Greatest Show on Turf" Super Bowl years. "We made a coaching change, and even if we didn't make a change, I think at that point, honestly, we were starting to catch on and turn the corner."

Immediately following the bye, the Redskins had nearly twice as many total yards as St. Louis, but the Rams forced three turnovers and turned one of those into a touchdown, then notched their first win when Josh Brown hit a 49-yard field goal as time expired.

A week later, the Rams scored 21 points in the first quarter against the Tony Romo-less Cowboys and forced four more turnovers in a blowout victory.

"Guys felt we had talent," Holt said. "Those things don't change overnight."

This renewal came after the Rams allowed 37 points per game and forced two turnovers through the first four weeks. Injuries to Jackson (Haslett called him questionable for Sunday) and several others on offense have been problematic throughout the first seven weeks.

So what gives?

"That's hard for me to answer," Haslett said. "A lot of things need to be done to make it better, we're just trying to implement a few things to get us through the next three months and whatever happens after that, we'll figure it out.

"We're just trying to do some positive things in the right direction and make the organization feel better about itself."

Besides better health and a slightly improved defense, both players and coaches noted Haslett's second go-round as a head coach has helped, even if it's as an interim.

Depending on how the rest of the season shakes out, Haslett has a chance to have the interim tag removed, though during Wednesday's conference call with reporters he sounded annoyed that possibility had been leaked out beyond Rams camp.

He already went through the early stages of one massive rebuilding as Saints coach when Hurricane Katrina destroyed much of New Orleans.

Nothing of the sort has occurred in the city known as the Gateway to the West, but Haslett has provided a gateway to wins of late, and another on Sunday will suddenly make the NFC West race interesting.

"That'd be better answered after this week, but if we won last week I think it'd have made a more interesting game for this week," Haslett said of the division race. "We have to somehow see if we can get a win. Hopefully the players understand there's a lot at stake this week."

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