MOBILE, Ala.—Jim Haslett has been a coach since 1988, has plied his trade in eight different cities and three pro leagues. But he had never experienced anything remotely close to what he endured during the Redskins’ turbulent 2013 season.
“There was a lot of stuff going on the last couple of months, probably more than I’ve ever experienced,” Haslett said Wednesday at the Senior Bowl, making his first public comments since Mike Shanahan was fired Dec. 30. “And I hope I never have to experience it again because I think it takes away [from preparation]. I felt bad for the players; they had to deal with it every day.”
Haslett, Washington’s defensive coordinator since 2010, was among a handful of assistants retained by new head coach Jay Gruden.
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The Redskins’ 2013 season concluded with eight straight losses, starting quarterback Robert Griffin III on the bench and the perception that the organization was in disarray following a string of damaging and embarrassing media leaks.
“You didn’t give yourself a chance to win games down the stretch,” Haslett said. “You’re consumed with everything else but football. I love being around the players and being on the field. But once you’re off the field, then you have to go back and deal with all the distractions."
"Obviously," he added, "we’ll start fresh and won’t have those issues. Players will come in and they can worry about football.”
Asked about the toll it took on the team, Haslett reiterated that nothing in his previous three decades as a coach prepared him for the constant drama.
“I’ve never experienced anything like it before,” he said. “It’s hard. It’s hard on the coaches. And, like I said, I felt bad for the players. They had deal with it every day.”
Haslett did, however, express optimism that the Redskins will be able to put last season’s disaster in the rearview mirror and move ahead full speed under Gruden.
“Hopefully, we never have to go through that again and we can just focus on football and get better as a group …and win some games,” Haslett said. “I think we’re much closer to the 10-win season that we had [in 2012] than the three-win season we just had, schematically and from a personnel standpoint.”