by Tom Finkel
Can you picture Scott Linehan watching his former team beat up on the Dallas Cowboys yesterday afternoon?
Why so glum? Because the preternaturally stoic Linehan been exposed as perhaps the worst coach in recent NFL history. Consider:
* The Rams had lost 17 of their last 20 games under Linehan
* They'd lost their first 4 games this season by an average of 26 points
* The team was second-to-last in the NFL in both total offense and total defense during Linehan's tenure
* His remedy for these problems was to bench his best quarterback and drop his best cornerback from the roster
Before his former team won its second consecutive game in as many weeks, Linehan could potentially shift the blame to any number of things -- the players were either too old or too young; the fans weren't showing up to help with a home-field advantage; the assistant coaches weren't doing their parts.
That was two weeks ago. Now, using the exact-same players as his predecessor, Jim Haslett has all but earned himself a permanent head coaching job next year. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, only four other NFL coaches won their first two games after taking over a team with a winless record. Haslett did it by beating two of the best teams in the league, one of them on the road.
After Haslett got the interim job, because the team's defense was so bad I said that it was like the CEO of Fannie Mae taking over Freddie Mac. Now Haslett admits in his postgame commentsthat Linehan was meddling in his defensive coordinator's schemes and vetoing personnel changes.
Another writer once joked on this blog about hundreds of high school students "falling victim to fatal boredom" after a Linehan motivational speech. So what did Haslett do before his team took the field against Dallas? He delivered a profanity-laced tirade and threw chairs around the locker room. Guess it never occurred to Linehan to try that -- or maybe he did and his players just snickered behind his back.
I'd like to hope that all these factors would lead to Linehan finding a new line of work, but alas, his name is one of many that has been mentioned as a possible replacement for Tyrone Willingham at the University of Washington, where he was an assistant coach during the program's glory days in the '90s. As of this weekend, the Huskies (my alma mater) are one of two winless teams in the BCS.
Note to the UW athletic department: If Linehan gets the job, the Huskies will be worse. Not quite sure how, but he'll find a way.