Another 20 seasons as an NFL coach have further weathered Haslett. In his tenure, he has worn many hats: head coach, defensive coordinator, defensive line coach, linebackers coach, special teams coordinator.
Haslett maintains a steely gaze and resolve in the face of adversity — even as a once-promising Washington Redskins defensive unit has gotten off to a historically bad start. The poor play has some fans and sports talk radio hosts calling for his job.
Haslett soldiers on with an even-keeled approach in meetings with his assistants and players and on the practice field, those close to him say.
“I’m always the same through the good times and the bad times,” Haslett said. “But I believe the way our guys are working, and we went through this last year, that we’ll find a way out of it. . . . I’ll stay the same through the whole thing.”
Roller coaster ride
When he accepted the reclamation project that was the Redskins in 2010, Coach Mike Shanahan tabbed Haslett as his defensive coordinator because of his extensive résumé, which included stints with the Pittsburgh Steelers, whose 3-4 defenses Shanahan had admired from afar for years.
The last four years have resembled a roller coaster for Haslett. Without the proper players in place in 2010, the Redskins’ defense ranked among the worst in the NFL. The following season, the unit’s ranking jumped from 31st to 13th. But the progress didn’t continue last season — at least not initially.
Woeful performances in the first half of the season had the unit on pace to shatter the record for most yards allowed in a season. The performances improved, however, and it helped Washington go on a seven-game win streak that earned the franchise its first NFC East title in 13 years.
Three games into this season, Haslett has come under fire once again. The healthy returns of two-time Pro Bowl players Brian Orakpo and Brandon Meriweather hasn’t provided the anticipated boost.
Instead, the unit had no answer for the Philadelphia Eagles, who ran 53 plays and racked up 322 yards, 26 points and 21 first downs in the first half of the opener game. The following week at Green Bay, Aaron Rodgers and James Starks became the first Packers quarterback and running back in franchise history to throw for 400 yards and rush for 100 yards on the same day.
Last weekend, the Redskins gave up another 441 yards to the Detroit Lions. After playing better for much of the game, the unit collapsed late, allowing quarterback Matthew Stafford to direct a nine-play, 71-yard scoring drive to clinch the win.
Through three games, the Redskins’ defense has surrendered 1,464 yards. That’s more than any team has surrendered through the first three games of the season since the NFL and the American Football League merged in 1970.