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London Fletcher on his Jim Haslett criticism: ‘If he has a problem, Jim knows my number’

(John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

Former Redskins linebacker and team captain London Fletcher joined The Sports Junkies on 106.7 The Fan on Monday to address his scathing criticism of Redskins defensive coordinator Jim Haslett on Sunday. Speaking on CBS Sports Network’s “That Other Pregame Show,” Fletcher called Haslett a clueless back-stabber and questioned why he still has a job. Fletcher did not back down from those comments on Monday. In fact, he indicated he would say the same thing to Haslett’s face.

“If he has a problem, Jim knows my number,” Fletcher said at the end of the interview. “My number hasn’t changed, man. It’s been the same for, I don’t know, the last eight, nine years.”

In a 20-minute back-and-forth before that, Fletcher elaborated on his dislike of Haslett as a coach and person.

“There are too many to rattle off,” Fletcher said when Junkies co-host Eric Bickel asked him to provide an example of Haslett’s cluelessness. “You talk about, I spent four years with him. Just through the course of a game, where the situation may be third and 20, second and 20, whatever. Maybe there’s a zero blitz call, or some other call that just doesn’t really ideally fit the situation. We end up giving up a big play, end up with points scored by the other team. Next day we’re coming in in the meeting room and there’s lack of accountability, saying, ‘Hey man, that was a bad call on my part.’ As players, everyone knew that was a bad call, but instead of just being accountable about that, that wasn’t something he did.”

Bickel then told Fletcher, who even went after Haslett’s son on Twitter on Sunday, that he thought he was a phony and a back-stabber.

“He protected you when your play fell off,” Bickel said. “You have been chomping at the bit to take this guy down ever since you hung it up. … I’m just completely put off by the way you’ve attacked Jim Haslett personally.”

“I can appreciate your opinion of me as whatever,” Fletcher said. “People are going to feel however they’re going to feel about my statements. For four years, I supported him personally, inside the building and outside the building, unlike him with all the players — whether it’s players, coaches, where he hasn’t done the same thing. People who know, they all agree with me. You can feel however you want to feel about what I said, but one thing you can’t do is say it’s not true and he can’t say it’s not true. It just came to a point where I was watching that Colts game and I continued to see guys running wide open, what, four or five times? There’s nobody in the vicinity of a receiver, play after play, and you continue to hear the same stuff over and over again. One minute it’s the change to a 3-4 defense. Next minute it’s the salary cap. Next minute it’s injuries. Next minute it’s Mike Shanahan. Next minute it’s this. At what point in time do you say, ‘You know what? It’s me. I need to do better.’ … I’ve called some of the guys, draft picks, that he played a major part in [drafting]. One minute he’s their guy, the next minute he’s bashing him behind closed doors. You look at what he did with Mike Shanahan. As soon as he got out the door, what was he saying, while he was in the building and once he got outside the building?”

“So are you saying, London, that Jim Haslett’s a bad guy?” co-host Jason Bishop asked.

“Yeah,” Fletcher said. “What I said is what I said. I’ll give you an example. When he first came to the Redskins, this was about four years ago, five years ago I guess now. This was during the offseason. I received an unsolicited phone call from somebody I respect very well. He asked me about Coach Haslett, asked me what I thought of him. I was like, ‘You know, I think he’s pretty cool.’ We were in the offseason. The first thing out of his mouth was, ‘Watch him, he’s a snake.’ I was kind of taken aback by that and I decided to watch him for four years. It turned out to be true, where I would see him, or hear him talk bad about a player or talk bad about a coach, but then a couple minutes later, he’s buddy-buddy with these guys, and that happened repeatedly. There is nobody who can dispute that. The response that I’ve gotten from people within the organization, or who have dealt with him, has been been, ‘Man, you’re 100 percent right.’ ”

Bickel asked Fletcher why he didn’t choose to take the high road, or address his personal issues with Haslett privately.

“You’re probably right,” Fletcher said. “I decided I didn’t want to handle it that way. I decided to handle it the way he’s handled his NFL [career], the way he’s stabbed people in the back. Let’s go back to when Mike Shanahan left the building. What did you hear Jim Haslett do in his interview? He blamed Mike Shanahan. Let me ask you a question: Who hired Jim Haslett? So why would he disrespect the man who hired him like that. Same thing with [former Rams coach] Scott Linehan. I read an article on Sunday from Jim Thomas. He mentioned how Jim Haslett didn’t care much about Scott Linehan. Who hired Jim Haslett in St. Louis? … I have people who aren’t even in the building coming to me about comments that this guy has made about stuff in Washington. I mean, really, should we continue to keep it behind closed doors? The only thing I did was address the white elephant that’s in the building.”

Fletcher said his dislike for Haslett isn’t based on any of Haslett’s private criticism or coaching of him while he was a player.

“I don’t mind being coached” Fletcher said. “Hey, we all make mistakes or whatever. We all can play better, coach better, whatever the case may be. It was just a situation where I felt like he was a bad coach. That’s one thing. I’ve had good coaches, bad coaches, whatever the case may be. You just deal with them all the same and that’s what it is. I just don’t like the way he handled situations behind closed doors, behind people’s backs repeatedly.”

Fletcher was asked if any of his teammates shared the same opinion about Haslett.

“Absolutely,” Fletcher said. “Guys aren’t dumb. Guys aren’t dumb. When you get to the National Football League, one thing you understand is football. You understand when a guy knows what he’s doing and when a guy doesn’t. One thing I tried to do was make sure, hey, let’s just make this work the best way we can. There would be calls that come in and guys were like, change that call man, or look at it me like, ‘Hey man, this play call man.”

Fletcher explained what he meant Sunday when he said that Haslett lacks attention to detail.

“He puts in hours,” Fletcher said. “NFL coaches they put in a ton of hours. But it’s one thing to come up there and present some information and say, ‘Hey, this is what we’re going to do, this is what they do.’ But it’s the small things that lead to big things. When you see guys running wide open. When you see the same route that the Indianapolis Colts beat you on. The same route the Minnesota Vikings beat you on, the Carolina Panthers beat us on for an 82-yard play a couple years ago. This has happened week in and week out. Instead of addressing the fine points of the scheme, whether it’s, hey, this is your leverage, this is where your eyes need to be, this is where your coverage responsibility is, this is the weakness of that play, just all different things like that, that’s what I mean by attention to detail.”

Fletcher was asked why he re-signed with the team in 2012 if he thought Haslett was such an incompetent coach.

“I really thought hard about it but then they paid me $11 million,” said Fletcher, who later indicated that he was joking about it being all about the money. “The way I looked at it, I looked at it more like what I had established in Washington. I liked playing for Coach Shanahan. I believed in what we were going to achieve. We got [Robert Griffin III] in the draft and we ended up winning a division title.”

Fletcher said he thought the Redskins defense would be better with a different defensive coordinator. He isn’t sure whether Jay Gruden will retain him next season.

“Jay likes him,” Fletcher said. “Jay coached for him in the UFL. He may keep him, I don’t know. He said he’s going to evaluate everything and everyone once the season is over with, and if that’s the case, I don’t see how you can evaluate him and say he’s a keeper, but again, it’s up to Jay to determine that. I’m not privy to that.”

Asked why other teams would be interested in Haslett if the Redskins let him go, Fletcher cited the good-ol’ boy nature of the NFL.

“Just because you’re in the NFL doesn’t mean you’re a great coach,” Fletcher said. “I’ve had great coaches, or better coaches, on the high school level and the collegiate level than some of the coaches I’ve been a part of in the National Football League. That’s just the way it is. Don’t misunderstand; just because someone is in the NFL as a coach  that they’re a great coach. That’s not the case.”

Fletcher rattled off the list of accomplishments of the other defensive coordinators for whom he played in the NFL, including Gregg Williams and Greg Blatche in Washington.

“[Not once] have you ever heard me say anything negative about any of those guys,” said Fletcher, who later indicated that he was nothing but respectful of Haslett before he retired. “I treated him with respect. I wished he would’ve showed the same respect to everybody else. What I’m doing is speaking up for all the players and that coaches that he [disrespected] for the last 20 years.”

Listen to the entire interview here.

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