ATLANTA (AP) -New general manager Billy Devaney respects how hard the St. Louis Rams played in 12 games under interim coach Jim Haslett.
Whether the players' collective effort will be enough to outweigh 10 straight losses and save Haslett's job is another matter for Devaney.
All Devaney and Haslett would publicly acknowledge after a 31-27 loss to the Atlanta Falcons was that the Rams will conduct business as usual Monday. Players will take physicals, and the coaching staff will grade their 16-game performance. Haslett will meet with each player, as is the custom of every NFL team, and conduct exit interviews.
``We'll start talking about things in the next couple of days, but we've said all along that it's a process and that Jim's a viable candidate,'' Devaney said. ``We'll see where we're at probably starting tomorrow.''
han was fired for losing 17 of his last 20 games over a two-year span.
``We have been playing hard,'' Devaney said. ``We haven't been playing smart the whole time, we haven't been playing sound, we haven't been playing good. There's a lot of reasons, but effort's never been the question. Outmatched? Yeah, sometimes, but (with) effort, there's no question.''
Haslett, who doesn't know when he will interview, wants to return as St. Louis' full-time head coach in 2009. He only hopes Devaney and Rosenbloom take into account the difficult circumstances under which he worked his last two years as a head coach.
After leading New Orleans to its first playoff win as a rookie head coach in 2000, Haslett kept the Saints competitive until Hurricane Katrina caused them to move temporarily to San Antonio and split their 2005 ``home'' games at the Alamodome, LSU's Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, La., and Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.
New Orleans finished 3-13 that season, and Haslett was fired. He worked under Linehan as the Rams' defensive coordinator from 2006 through Week 4 of this year.
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``If people are going to judge me based off what they've seen this season and based off the Katrina season, then so be it, but I'm no different a coach I was in 2000 or 2001 when I got into the profession as a head coach.''
Devaney, who left the Falcons as an assistant GM to work under Shaw before the season started, gave no indication that a petition signed by many St. Louis players favoring Haslett's return would affect his decision.
The Rams' proverbial big picture is encouraging to Devaney despite a combined 5-27 record over the last two years.
``I really believe that, because we have pieces here,'' Devaney said. ``It's not like it's going to be a big reclamation project. It's not like we're going to get rid of everybody and start all over. That's not even the case. We know the areas we have to improve in, but there's a good core here that can play, and they showed that in how they carried themselves. They really care, and they have professional pride.''
Added Haslett, who has a career record of 47-61: ``I told them that this game will define you as a person and as a team for years to come. I thought we played about as well as we can play. The guys played their hearts out. I think the way they played will define what they are next year. These last four games, I thought we had an opportunity to win all four of them. I think this team needs to learn how to win.''

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