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Rams owner Chip Rosenbloom makes good on promise
By Bernie Miklasz
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
Sunday, Jan. 18 2009
It was probably in the wee hours of Friday morning when an e-mail arrived from
Rams owner Chip Rosenbloom.
Under normal circumstances I wouldn't share what he had to say; the note was
But after Saturday's hiring of Steve Spagnuolo, I don't think Rosenbloom would
mind if I share a little.
I had asked him about the status of the coaching search. Rosenbloom wouldn't
give up any secrets, but he did offer this declaration:
"We will have a new beginning for the Rams. And I have really been trying to
make this right."
When Rosenbloom took over the franchise after the death of his mother, Georgia
Frontiere, he promised to do everything he could to make the Rams a winner.
The young owner is living up to his word.
The hiring of Spagnuolo is the latest example.
There were hopeful early signs, such as the decision to fire coach Scott
Linehan four games into the 2008 season. And the fresh start began in earnest
when Rosenbloom removed Jay Zygmunt as general manager, and permitted John Shaw
to fulfill a long-standing wish to retire as the team president.
Rosenbloom hired a real football man, Billy Devaney, as general manager. And he
fully empowered Devaney to hire the next head coach.
So Devaney landed Spagnuolo, the New York Giants' defensive coordinator who was
on many "A list" rundowns of coaching candidates this offseason.
Devaney deserves a lot of credit here.
Spagnuolo wouldn't be here unless he had confidence in Devaney.
Devaney wisely resisted the campaign to retain Jim Haslett as coach. Devaney
didn't panic early on, when teams began to zero in on other attractive
candidates. Devaney correctly assessed that Spagnuolo was slipping from him.
Devaney even ran a clever reverse to catch us all off guard by bringing Dallas
offensive coordinator Jason Garrett to town Friday night for a tour of Rams
In the end, Devaney chose between Spagnuolo and Minnesota Vikings defensive
coordinator Leslie Frazier. Both men were a good fit. I would have been pleased
with Frazier, too.
Did Devaney go for Spagnuolo because he feared he'd lose out to the New York
Jets for Baltimore defensive coordinator Rex Ryan? Maybe. Did Devaney quicken
the pace to strike a deal with Spagnuolo because the Kansas City Chiefs were
lurking as a possible threat? Maybe. Did Devaney shrewdly scoop up Spagnuolo
before the Jets had a chance to reconsider in the event that Baltimore and Ryan
win Sunday's AFC championship? Maybe.
But I don't care about any of that.
All I know is this: At the beginning of the search, Spagnuolo was unanimously
portrayed as one of the most coveted available coaching properties.
And the Rams got him.
I didn't think the Rams had a shot at Spagnuolo. I didn't think he'd want their
job. And I was hardly alone; this was the prevailing view among NFL pundits,
agents and other team executives.
So this was a big upset. Since Devaney is a New Jersey guy, I'll drop a
Monmouth Park horse racing analogy on him. Before the start of this coaching
derby and the race for Spagnuolo, the Rams would have been a 30-1 long shot.
Devaney pulled it off with a savvy ride in the stretch.
Spagnuolo, an old friend of Devaney's, will join Devaney in leading the Rams
into the future. I can't predict that future. There's a chance Spagnuolo will
be a bust; that's true of any coaching hire. But at least Spagnuolo has a
legitimate résumé and background. His preferred style of football is a match
for what the Rams need to become. This hiring makes sense right now. Spagnuolo
will instill an attacking mentality, and eventually bring some of that
bloody-mouth NFC East football to The Ed.
Here's the most exciting thing: For the first time since Dick Vermeil and
Charley Armey worked closely to build a Super Bowl champion, the Rams have two
true football people in command — the new GM, and the new coach.
Accordingly, Devaney's presence and good reputation clearly made this job more
appealing to outsiders. By giving Devaney true authority, Rosenbloom
established credibility with skeptical coaching candidates.
Not long ago, Rams Park was a dysfunctional mess; you had the wrong people in
control, and too many folks running around, trying to grab power. No one seemed
to be on the same page.
Rosenbloom changed that. He streamlined the football operation. Devaney was
given the hammer, with no conditions, no caveats, no confusion. So now when
coaching prospects looked to Rams Park, they saw an orderly line of authority.
The coach knows he'll work for the GM, and the GM knows he must answer to
ownership. That's all. It's nice and clean. The structure of this organization
has changed dramatically.
In less than a year as the owner, Rosenbloom has delivered on his promise of
that new beginning.
Re: Rams owner Chip Rosenbloom makes good on promise
Vision is something that has been missing since Vermeil and Armey worked together to build the Super Bowl Championship Rams. With this shared vision, I don't think Spagnuolo will be a bust in St. Louis. Since he has a GM working WITH him, not against him, I see a potential for great success!
Chip Rosenbloom reminds me of his father.
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