Bulger backs Haslett to return next season

Thursday, November 20, 2008
TONY AVELAR ~ Associated Press
The Rams won their first two games after Jim Haslett became coach, but have dropped their last four.

ST. LOUIS -- St. Louis Rams coach Jim Haslett has stayed in Marc Bulger's corner, refusing to switch quarterbacks during a horrible stretch of play. Bulger returned the favor Wednesday, saying he and many teammates want Haslett back next season.

"He's been dealt a bad deck of cards," Bulger said. "He's doing all he can to get us going, to motivate us. It's up to us to help him out. I'd love to win the rest and solidify his job."

Haslett's decision to stick with Bulger, who has more interceptions (eight) than touchdown passes (seven) along with a career-worst 57.9 percent completion rate, is pragmatic. Haslett doesn't deny Bulger's role in a four-game losing streak, and said 37-year-old backup Trent Green would do a "fine job" if he elected to make a switch.

"I'm going with the guy that I think gives us the best chance to win games in the long run," Haslett said. "To be honest, maybe not this year, but for the future, my vision is Marc's the quarterback here for the next so-many years, and that's not going to change.

"So all the people out there that are screaming and yelling that they don't want Marc, well he's going to be here, that's just the way it is."

Rams quarterback Marc Bulger said Wednesday that he hopes that the team brings back its coach next season.

Whether Haslett will be back in 2009 may not be such a cinch anymore.

The Rams were not competitive during an 0-4 start under Scott Linehan, and Haslett's star rose after a 2-0 start. Against top competition, too, with a win at Washington and a convincing triumph over the Cowboys at home.

The last two losses in the subsequent slide have been disasters. The Rams (2-8) have been outscored 75-3 in the first half of road blowouts against the Jets and 49ers.

That slide prompted a fiery wake-up speech by the coach before practice Wednesday. Haslett has been emphasizing all along that players need to shake off mistakes instead of letting them drag them down, and again he hammered that theme.

"The word basically was we need to get going," Haslett said. "We need to get out of this funk and start playing."

He also showed players footage from the unbeaten Tennessee Titans, who overcame a 14-3 halftime deficit to beat the Jaguars last week.

"Here's a team that made some mistakes on defense, basically," Haslett said. "Other guys made up for it. This stuff happens to us and we give up a 30-yard run.

"What's the difference between us and them? They line up the next play and they make a big stop and that's why they're 10-0."

Bulger said the speech wasn't lengthy, just to the point.

"We know we have to play better," Bulger said. "We can't sit here and feel sorry for ourselves. We've got to try to get out of this rut."

To cornerback Ron Bartell, it was stating the obvious.

"He recognizes how we're playing and he's letting us know," Bartell said. "He's calling guys out, which I agree with. Guys have to do their jobs."

Several veteran players noted that their coach isn't the only one whose job is on the line for 2009.

Defensive end Leonard Little, who played on the Rams' Super Bowl teams in 1999 and 2001, predicted massive roster turnover.

"The way I see it now, there's very few people on this team whose job is safe," Little said. "You just don't know what's going to happen next year.

"They might more than likely get rid of the whole team besides a couple of players, so you've got to play your best."

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