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  1. #1
    RamWraith's Avatar
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    5 Minutes for Blogging, Spagnuolo Edition

    By Bernie Miklasz

    Did the St. Louis Rams hire a great head coach? Obviously, there is no way to predict the future for Steve Spagnuolo, or for any coach that the Rams would have hired. That applies to the guys who would have become head coaches for the first time, but the same is true of veteran head coaches who change jobs. But “Spags” certainly has established credentials that are worthy of this opportunity.

    Here are five reasons why the hiring make sense:

    1. COACHING PEDIGREE: Spagnuolo has worked in the pro game as a scout, and in the personnel department, so he knows how an entire operation works. He was largely trained in the NFL by Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Johnson, who in my opinion is the best assistant coach in the NFL. Spagnuolo learned so much from Johnson. Not just the valuable aspects of defensive strategy, either. Johnson has always gotten players to play all-out for him. Johnson has always instilled an aggressive, attacking mindset in his players. Spagnuolo absorbed all of that. And when he went to NY in 2007 to become the Giants’ defensive coordinator, the Giants soon attained the same level of motivation, and brought it to opponents with that same attacking mentality.

    2. CHEMISTRY WITH BILLY DEVANEY: Rams Park has been an MMA ring in recent years. Jay Zygmunt and Mike Martz feuded, and the rift ripped apart the football operation. Scott Linehan followed, and he didn’t get along with some coaches and other key employees. Jim Haslett and Linehan sniped at each other behind the scenes until Linny was fired four games into the 2008 season. Devaney and Spagnuolo go way back, working together in the NFL in Washington (1983) and San Diego (1993). They’ve been friends for many years. There is a strong bond and trust factor between them. Is it possible for friends to eventually have a falling out? Sure. But these men share a common trait: they have very good people skills. They have a history of working well with others. It bodes well for their future together as GM and head coach. I can’t believe that Spagnuolo would have taken this job unless he believed in Devaney, and believed in Devaney’s plan for the future. For the first time since Dick Vermeil and Charley Armey worked side-by-side to build a Super Bowl champ, the Rams have two pure football guys running things. Two football guys with cordial personalities, too. Just like Armey and DV.

    3. SPAGNUOLO HAS A HISTORY OF COMMANDING RESPECT: This is what the NY Post wrote online Saturday, shortly after Spagnuolo agreed to take the Rams’ gig: “This is a big blow to the Giants…firm but fair, players rallied around him because he usually managed to spin everything in a positive way. His defense was the primary season why the Giants were able to stun the football world with last season’s playoff run.”

    Spagnuolo earned credibility as a leader and a strategist by knocking off the Patriots offense in last year’s Super Bowl. The Patriots came into that game with an 18-0 mark, and had averaged an NFL-record 36.8 points per game. Spagnuolo’s guys swarmed Tom Brady, sacked him five times, and held the Patriots to 274 net yards and 14 points. All assistants have a lot to prove when they ascend to the HC position, but any coach who can perform like Spagnuolo did when the stakes were so high can hardly be considered a lightweight.

    In an interview with the New York media this season, Giants LB Antonio Pierce said, “What he brought to the team was what was needed - a bounce, with both a positive and a negative. He pats us on the butt when we do well, but he always lets us know what we can do better.” And there are about 500 other quotes from Giants players who say similar things about Spagnuolo. DE Justin Tuck was so grateful to Spagnuolo that he planned to pay for a trip to Hawaii for Spagnuolo for next month’s Pro Bowl.

    And former Philadelphia Eagles LB Ike Reese, who played for Spagnuolo, compares him to John Harbaugh, another former Eagles assistant who became an instant star as the first-year head coach of the Baltimore Ravens this season.

    “He reminds me so much of John Harbaugh,” Reese told reporters in Philly. “You’re talking about guys who have aspirations of controlling a facet of the game or even managing the whole team.”

    4. SPAGNUOLO IS AN INNOVATOR: Some assistant coaches are copy cats. They learn a system and install it with another team and keep running the same stuff over and over again. Which is fine. But a really good coach also shows a knack for taking what he’s learned and building on it. Obviously, Jim Johnson was a hugely positive influence in Spagnuolo’s career. But Spagnuolo can also think for himself. He has original ideas. For example, in 2007 Spagnuolo cranked up the Giants’ pass rush by using four defensive ends on obvious passing downs. That alignment of Michael Strahan, Justin Tuck, Mathias Kiwanuka and Osi Umenyiora made life miserable for opposing QBs. And you know what? This season the old master, Johnson, borrowed from the student and used that all-DE pass rush with the Eagles.

    “I think ‘Spags’ has influenced the whole league, not just the Eagles,” Pierce told reporters earlier this season. “Every team uses their best pass rushers now, regardless of whether it’s a linebacker or defensive end.”

    Again, that’s just one example. Before last year’s Super Bowl, Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels (now the new head coach at Denver) said: “You really have to be ready. Steve does a great job of mixing everything up. You are never going to get one steady dose for too long . . . You never know what you’re going to get, which is why you have to practice against everything.”

    5. YOU CAN’T GO WRONG WITH HIRING A GIANTS DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR: There are no sure things in the coaching profession. Some coaching trees (Don Coryell) are more reliable than others (Bill Belichick.) But through NFL history, coaches who were empowered to run the Giants’ defense went on to achieve excellent results as head coaches. Tom Landry, Bill Parcells, Belichick and John Fox were all NY Giants’ defensive coordinators before rising to the top as head coaches. And now Spagnuolo will be the latest to try his hand at making this proud tradition hold up.

    30-second Bonus: Another reason? Rams fans should respond favorably. Spagnuolo is a rising star in his profession, and one of the top available assistants in this year’s HC market. The Rams didn’t have to settle for a B List, or C List, coach. This hiring should help the franchise keep most of their customers for 2009. The Rams may even be able to attract some new customers, too.

    Thanks for reading.

    I would enjoy reading your thoughts on the hiring as well… just keep it civil and clean.

    -Bernie


  2. #2
    NJ Ramsfan1 is offline Registered User
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    Re: 5 Minutes for Blogging, Spagnuolo Edition

    I agree 100% with you, Bernie. When names were being kicked around, I wanted one of three guys: Bill Cowher, Marty Schottenheimer or Steve Spagnuolo. I am thrilled with the hire. I sincerely believe Billy DeVaney performed his due diligence and got the best man for the job. And Chip Rosenbloom thus far has shown us he is a man of action and has been true to his word regarding finances and commitment to winning. The Rams needed a change in philosopy and hired a defense-oriented guy who will instill toughness in these guys, among other things. I don't know how you could be a Rams fan and be upset today.

  3. #3
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    Re: 5 Minutes for Blogging, Spagnuolo Edition

    Agreed, being a Ram fan, the ship has just been turned & headed back up stream. Love the fact that we got someone that will work together with the GM to build a proud tradition along with someone who is in touch with the game of today, someone that loves the chess matches on the field who will change the game plan according to what the opposition is doing., Great Great hire. Thank you Chip.

  4. #4
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    Re: 5 Minutes for Blogging, Spagnuolo Edition

    Yep, all good.

    I don't need to be sold anymore. When do we get started? That's all I want to do now. Can we start the 09' season next week?

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    Re: 5 Minutes for Blogging, Spagnuolo Edition

    Like anything else in football (i.e. free agents, drafting, coordinators, etc...), it's all a crap shoot. But it looks like the odds are good.

  6. #6
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    Re: 5 Minutes for Blogging, Spagnuolo Edition

    great hire...is gonna be an interesting F.A & Draft with Spags on board.

  7. #7
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    Re: 5 Minutes for Blogging, Spagnuolo Edition

    The Spags hire does bring a fresh, new outlook for the team. The best part is the new structure;

    Chip - Devaney - Spags !!!

    Thanks Chip

    Maineram -
    and out of the ashes rise ...The Breakfast Club !

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