January 8, 2005

Haslett To Return As Saints Head Coach

Saints head coach Jim Haslett will return for his sixth season. Confirmed after a meeting with Saints owner Tom Benson this week, Haslett had two years remaining on a $3 million/year contract. The team's four-game season-closing winning streak has Haslett, for once, riding a small wave of optimism going into the season. Not since the Saints' history 2000 season has Haslett exited the season with as much confidence.

With most of his assistance coaches having their contracts expire this offseason, the ever-loyal Haslett is also pushing for extensions for his staff. It is not known if Mike McCarthy and Rick Venturi, the team's highly-criticized offensive and defensive coordinators, will return.

McCarthy, whose contract expires in March, has been linked to openings in Chicago, Miami, Baltimore, Detroit and Jacksonville. Despite the offense's inconsistency, McCarthy is still regarded as an excellent teacher and quarterback developer. Under his watch - he has been Haslett's offensive coordinator since they arrived in 2000 - the Saints have set countless team and individual perfromance records. McCarthy has also seen two of his students go on to start with other teams in Marc Bulger (St. Louis) and Jake Delhomme (Carolina), with a third in JT O'Sullivan who may be the future of the post-Favre era Green Bay Packers. Currently, McCarthy has former Texas Tech star Kliff Kingsbury under his wing.

McCarthy has not been allowed permission to talk with other teams yet. Haslett is still sorting out the coaching changes for this upcoming season.

Venturi has been with the Saints through three head coaches and as defensive coordinator in 1996 took over as the Saints' interim coach after Jim Mora resigned mid-season. Although the Saints defenses have struggled mightily under Venturi at times, including setting several team records for ineptitude, Venturi has been an emotional leader for the coaching staff and players. A position coach from 1997-2001, the veteran coach took over as defensive coordinator after Ron Zook left before the 2002 season.

Saints quarterbacks coach Mike Sheppard is also a candidate for offensive coordinator jobs around the league.

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