It is hard to avoid the comparisons for the St. Louis Rams in 2008: 0-4 under Scott Linehan with 4 blowout losses, 2-0 under Jim Haslett with two wins over quality opponents, one of the blowout variety. What is the difference between the two teams? Nothing personnel-wise, but the only difference is motivation and attitude.
Jim Haslett himself has seemed to become more motivated as a head coach than he was as a defensive coordinator. Was Scott Linehan holding Haslett back from coaching his defense to the best of his abilities? Had Jim Haslett fallen in the same funk that had permeated Rams Park? Whatever the case, Haslett has energized himself and energized the Rams team as a whole from quarterback Marc Bulger to third corner Jason Craft. Everyone seems to be playing with more fire and more purpose across the board.
The Rams were certainly underachieving in the first four games. They had the talent to at least be competitive, but were making mental errors and were generally unmotivated. But, along comes Jim Haslett and he changes the culture in the Rams locker room over the bye week. The Rams are now playing up to and above their talent under Jim Haslett.
Richie Incognito hits the nail on the head with his quote after the game, “We go out there as an ‘O-line’ and we’re going to be physical with people, that’s our stamp. We did that today. Football’s an attitude. And we’ve got the right one going for us.” In the NFL, motivation, fire and determination can make all the difference in the world. When the game is about out-pushing, out-smarting and being stronger than your opponent, having the motivation helps. Football is an attitude and it’s amazing how much difference a change in attitude can make.