GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 7: Head Coach Jim Haslett of the St. Louis Rams looks on against the Arizona Cardinals during their NFL Game on December 7, 2008 at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)
It takes about 30 seconds to realize that new Redskins defensive coordinator Jim Haslett is the kind of guy you’d want to have a beer with -- he is a great storyteller, is extremely engaging and very real. What you see is what you get. I think a lot of that comes from his honest, blue-collar background of growing up in Pittsburgh.
Haslett’s NFL career began as a player -- he was a lineback with the Buffalo Bills. As for coaching, he is always grinding it out. He’s had assistant jobs, but earned his first head coaching job with the New Orleans Saints.
He was at the helm when Hurricane Katrina hit, and he told me that because of that experience, nothing bothers him anymore, not even Albert Haynesworth choosing to be the only player not to show up for voluntary minicamps.
Haslett was let go after the 2005 season and had stints in St. Louis, as both a coordinator and an “interim” head coach, and he also was a coordinator in Pittsburgh. After leaving the Rams, Haslett said he couldn’t turn down the opportunity to follow the job he loved, even if it meant coaching the Florida Tuskers of the UFL. He is thrilled to be back in the NFL and to have the chance to guide the Redskins with Mike Shanahan.
Redskins players have been getting to know him over the past few weeks, and what they’ve told me is he tries to get them going -- he tells jokes, he pushes them, but he rags on them like a former NFL player would.
Former defensive coordinator Greg Blache was very serious at practice. He had the respect of his players, but there is a noted difference in coaching styles. Blache loved to hunt and to relax by fishing with his friends from his hometown. Haslett says he’s the total opposite. He can’t sit still. He works out -- sometimes twice a day -- and he keeps himself busy with his lawnwork (which is greatly respected at his home in St. Louis). He says sometimes he takes a leaf blower and occupies himself by cleaning up the field where his son plays baseball.
Here are a few things that hit the cutting room floor from our interview, but that stood out to me during our lunch: