As you probably have heard by now, the Minnesota Vikings have fired head coach Brad Childress after a terrible 3-7 start. The move was a long time coming, as everyone knew. It's become significant here in D.C., of course, because the Washington Redskins' next opponent just so happens to be the Minnesota Vikings.
So naturally, one of the first questions on the minds of many Redskins fans is whether this move helps or hurts the Redskins' chances of getting the win they desperately need against Minnesota next week. To answer that question, I've been doing some research on how the last interim head coaches fared in their first game on the job. That analysis will come, but in the meantime, I was reminded of something.
There is one Redskins coach who has personal experience coaching his first game as an interim coach against this team. That coach? Defensive coordinator Jim Haslett.
In case you don't remember, let me set the scene for you. Back in 2008, the St. Louis Rams fired head coach Scott Linehan after an 0-4 start. The Rams were sputtering, and while they lacked much talent, someone had to go. That someone was Linehan, during their bye week. In his place, the Rams promoted Haslett.
Haslett's first game was scheduled to be against the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field. At the time, the Redskins were 4-1, and in the honeymoon stage of the Jim Zorn era. They had just completed a remarkable two-week stretch where they beat Dallas and Philadelphia back-to-back on the road. A win against the Rams seemed inevitable, especially when Clinton Portis rumbled in from three yards out early in the game.
But it didn't turn out that way. Fueled by a 75-yard fumble recovery by O.J. Atogwe, the Rams took a 16-7 lead into the fourth quarter. Somehow, the Redskins rallied to take a 17-16 lead on another Portis touchdown, and looked poised to win. But then the Rams drove down the field and got a 49-yard field goal by Josh Brown, sending the Redskins to a crushing loss that may have damaged their playoff hopes.
So I guess there's bad karma for the Redskins to stave off. Hopefully, Haslett doesn't give Leslie Frazier any covert advice on how to win in his first game as an interim coach against the Washington Redskins.