- Mike Sando, NFL Insider
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Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
Five thoughts on the Rams' stunning upset against the Redskins in Week 6:
A coaching change really can produce immediate results. Scott Linehan surely wasn't to blame for all that ailed the Rams, but this team clearly had lost its way. The Rams had the talent to compete in the division this season. They had lost confidence. As an unproven head coach, Linehan wasn't in position to pull the team together. New coach Jim Haslett restored optimism right away. The Rams looked like they were having fun.
Josh Brown was worth the money St. Louis paid him in free agency. The 49-yard field goal he made to win the game would have tested the mettle of any kicker. Brown faced a mental hurdle when a 15-yard penalty turned a potential chip-shot attempt into a long one. He faced another mental hurdle in the form of his own history at FedEx Field. While with Seattle in 2005, Brown missed a 47-yard attempt at the game winner in the same stadium. The Redskins won in overtime.
News that Haslett's contract allows him to remain the Rams' head coach by meeting incentives raises questions about the Rooney Rule. I looked into a similar situation in February, when the Seahawks named Jim Mora their head coach for 2009 without opening the process to minority candidates. The Rooney Rule did not apply to that situation because rules allow teams to promote from within.
Is Haslett's situation different? Howard Balzer tried to find out as early as Oct. 2. Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, writing under the screen name BernieM on a Post-Dispatch forum, wrote: "If terms were negotiated in advance that would keep him in place for 2009, as a continuation of the job he already has, I have no idea why the Rooney Rule would come into play."
Donnie Avery's emergence as a big-play receiver was a very good development for the Rams. Offensive coordinator Al Saunders wasn't expecting much from Avery this season because he knew what rookies faced trying to learn this offense. Avery is defying those expectations. He caught four passes for 73 yards against the Redskins, including a clutch 43-yarder to set up the winning field goal. A poorly thrown pass prevented him from catching a long touchdown pass against Seattle in Week 3. Avery has 10 catches for 119 yards over the last three games.
Anthony Brown, who writes about the Redskins for MVN.com, looks very smart for pretty much predicting a Rams victory. The case he made had nothing to do with Xs and Os. It had everything to do with a hunch. I liked it enough to link to it before the game, but I'd be lying to say I expected this outcome.