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  1. #1
    MauiRam's Avatar
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    Spagnuolo says no to Moss, yes to principles ..

    Bernie Miklasz

    I'm one of the knuckleheads who believed it was a good idea for the Rams to take a low-risk chance on Randy Moss. You know Randy. He's the moody, temperamental diva of a wide receiver. If he isn't catching bombs, he's dropping them in the locker room. Moss can be more negative than a political ad. He stretches the field. He stretches the patience of his coaches. He goes deep, but his happiness runs short.

    So why did I want to see Moss cruising into Rams Park? Well, I had a vision in my head: Sam Bradford delivering footballs 50 yards down the field, hooking up with Moss to shock a defense. All of a sudden the defense would spread out, worried about stopping Moss, and Steven Jackson would have room to run. The defense would play a safety deep, go on Moss patrol, and the other Rams receivers would work the open spaces cleared out by Moss.

    Moss is the long-range missile that's burned defensive backs for 153 touchdown passes in his career. In NFL history only Jerry Rice has caught more touchdowns or wrecked more defenses with such damaging big-play ability. The Rams don't have that. They do have a golden-armed quarterback, but Bradford is relegated to dinking and dunking and piecing together methodical drives. Bradford has thrown 11 touchdown passes, and that's a minor miracle considering the team's injuries and instability at wide receiver.

    So, yeah, I thought Bradford's game would expand significantly if Moss came in. Bradford has only completed five of 20 passes this season when the ball travels 21 or more yards in the air; he simply does not have a deep-range threat at his disposal. And Bradford won't be able to maximize his talent until the Rams get him a wideout who can break a defense down. Moss could have filled that void. And if Moss turned into a bad actor here, the Rams could have cut him. Immediately. Was it worth trying?

    Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo had a decision to make. He had the same vision of the Moss potential. Looking around practice Wednesday, the coach could imagine what it would be like to have Moss in house, to alter the dimensions of the Rams' passing attack. But in the end, the Rams took a pass. They declined to put in a waiver claim, and Moss was picked up by Tennessee.

    I spoke to Spagnuolo for a few minutes Wednesday, and while he did not wish to be quoted, I can tell you that he agonized over this. Spagnuolo deliberated over the Moss verdict for a couple of days, and many hours. The coach and other key members of the Rams organization performed due diligence by making calls, getting reports on Moss, finding out all that they could.

    Earlier this week, Spagnuolo told me that he believed his locker room was strong enough to handle Moss. That includes the coaching staff. Spagnuolo believes the team's infrastructure could withstand the Moss temper, the pouting, the loafing on select plays. But still, the Rams decided to play their final eight games without Moss.

    You see, Spagnuolo believes there is a right way to do things.

    And a wrong way.

    Spagnuolo insists that he is willing to take a chance on a risky player, a player with a shaky rep — but not this particular player. I don't know what Spagnuolo was told when he made his calls, as he did his homework. But the coach gathered enough information to make the no-Moss ruling.

    And you know what? Even as someone who was in favor of bringing in Moss, I can respect Spagnuolo's decision. That doesn't mean I agree with it. But I definitely respect it.

    Why? It's pretty simple: I trust this coach. I see how he's building a roster, and reinforcing it by filling it with as many honorable, team-oriented, character players as he can find.

    The Rams are a surprise at 4-4 for several reasons. Bradford, for sure. Some emerging young lions on defense. An improving offensive line. But this goes beyond talent. Spagnuolo is putting together an admirable team ethic. Everyone works hard. Everyone is accountable. There are no separate rules for star players. This team is unified. It's tenacious. Whatever the players do, they do together. They don't point fingers. They don't splinter. There's no hint of controversy. They're all in … all 53 of them.

    I've said all along that there are two legitimate sides to the Moss debate. The people who were in favor of Moss in St. Louis can make a case. The people who were opposed to Moss can make a case. And there's merit to each view. You'd have to be a stubborn fool to pretend that there's only one correct argument here.

    But Spagnuolo knows his team; he's worked carefully to develop its collective mindset. And that's one of the most important aspects of coaching. The game-day strategy, the play calls, the use of timeouts — all of that stuff is important, but completely irrelevant to the Moss debate.

    This is about leadership. A coach taking a young team and cultivating and perfecting a desirable personality. And empowering and entrusting those players to take the franchise forward, even if they're going to stumble at times, the way they did at Tampa Bay.

    Spagnuolo really likes his team's personality. He likes the players' professionalism and decency and the way they go about their business. He sees how much they care, how much they want to compete, how much fun they have when checking into Rams Park each day.

    A coach has to lead his team. Part of that is attained by building trust. He must set the standards and abide by them. He can't go changing week to week, day to day. If he's fickle or moody, the players will eventually see him as a fraud. And they'll stop buying into what he's preaching.

    Spagnuolo knows his 2010 Rams much better than we do. He knows when the time will be right for taking a chance on a wide receiver with an inflated, oversized ego. It could be 2011. Hey, at some point, the Rams have to get that receiver in here. But it's up to Spagnuolo to make that judgment call. He's clearly making progress doing things his way, and he's earned the right to stay the course.

    There is nothing phony about Spagnuolo. He is the genuine article. And if he doesn't believe it's worth trading in his core principles for a few touchdown catches made by a rental wideout, then I can't tell the man he's wrong. He's staying true to what he believes in. And in the modern sports culture, that purity of principle is increasingly hard to find.


  2. #2
    r8rh8rmike's Avatar
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    Re: Spagnuolo says no to Moss, yes to principles ..

    Wow, Bernie is on a roll with some reasonable, well articulated articles. I agree with pretty much everything he had to say here. I guess wining will affect everybody in a positive way, even Bernie.

  3. #3
    Rambunctious's Avatar
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    Re: Spagnuolo says no to Moss, yes to principles ..

    Quote Originally Posted by r8rh8rmike View Post
    Wow, Bernie is on a roll with some reasonable, well articulated articles. I agree with pretty much everything he had to say here. I guess wining will affect everybody in a positive way, even Bernie.
    I thought it may just me but I agree. He has gone from my least favorite to on the better beat writers following the Rams since the season started.

    I guess off season brings out the worst in all of us.

  4. #4
    OldSchoolRamFan's Avatar
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    Re: Spagnuolo says no to Moss, yes to principles ..

    I think he was mostly spot on except....

    Quote Originally Posted by MauiRam View Post
    Bernie Miklasz
    He knows when the time will be right for taking a chance on a wide receiver with an inflated, oversized ego. It could be 2011. Hey, at some point, the Rams have to get that receiver in here.
    ...we do need a #1, no doubt about it, but that guy does not have to have an inflated, oversized ego... otherwise, well put.
    Steve

    What you see is what you get, but what you see depends on where you stand.

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    clarasDK is offline Registered User
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    Re: Spagnuolo says no to Moss, yes to principles ..

    Who is this talented writer calling himself bernie? And where is the real Bernie?

  6. #6
    Ramblin` Ram's Avatar
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    Re: Spagnuolo says no to Moss, yes to principles ..

    Quote Originally Posted by OldSchoolRamFan View Post
    I think he was mostly spot on except....



    ...we do need a #1, no doubt about it, but that guy does not have to have an inflated, oversized ego... otherwise, well put.
    we were spoilt with Ike and Torry...there are still some pretty grounded elite wideouts still out there tho to prove your point...Calvin Johnson,Andre Johnson,Wes Welker,Reggie Wayne,Greg Jennings etc..

  7. #7
    macrammer's Avatar
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    Re: Spagnuolo says no to Moss, yes to principles ..

    Slow to the Spags homer party but I am coming around and thinking he just might be a.. AHEM...good HC ! I like his focus and dedication to his principles and resolve to see them through

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    HUbison's Avatar
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    Re: Spagnuolo says no to Moss, yes to principles ..

    Quote Originally Posted by r8rh8rmike View Post
    Wow, Bernie is on a roll with some reasonable, well articulated articles. I agree with pretty much everything he had to say here. I guess wining will affect everybody in a positive way, even Bernie.
    Wow, he has been on a roll. I'm even.......(gulp)......looking forward to reading BM's next article.
    "Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod

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    AlphaRam is offline Registered User
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    Re: Spagnuolo says no to Moss, yes to principles ..

    Moss will be damaged for life from not having the opportunity to be on the Rams. Really, that is the reason he acts the way he does. I feel bad for him.
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

  10. #10
    RealRam's Avatar
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    Re: Spagnuolo says no to Moss, yes to principles ..

    Good read. ...Wait, what!?!

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    Rampingitup is offline Registered User
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    Re: Spagnuolo says no to Moss, yes to principles ..

    Quote Originally Posted by RealRam View Post
    Good read. ...Wait, what!?!
    I agree Huh? Who is this guy and what did he do with Bernie?

  12. #12
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    Re: Spagnuolo says no to Moss, yes to principles ..

    Winning cures everything...

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    NJ Ramsfan1 is offline Registered User
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    Re: Spagnuolo says no to Moss, yes to principles ..

    Quote Originally Posted by Fettmaster View Post
    Winning cures everything...

    Exactly. I've always felt there were entirely too many Bernie bashers here- sometimes with justification but mostly just people nitpicking and venting. Columns don't seem so trivial and annoying when you've got a few wins under your belt.

    This article states what I've tried to say all along: We don't need a petulant guy of poor character spoiling the barrel, regardless of ability. Any good coach/management team will perform their due diligence before making a decision on a guy, which obviously Spags and Billy Devaney did. The results were predictable: Moss isn't worth it. And on top of that, it would have made Spags look hypocritical- preaching a "four pillars" and "right way" approach while signing a me-first jerk.

    I believe in karma. And Spags & the Rams will benefit down the road from their reluctance to sacrifice their principles for a couple of possible wins.

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    TylerBishop is offline Registered User
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    Re: Spagnuolo says no to Moss, yes to principles ..

    I respect Spags decision like bernie said, but we are a playoff contender in this division and our gaping weakness on offense is wide reciever, and we passed up a good one.

    I just hope at the end of the day we realize that we are going to have to buy, not draft, a number one guy for next season.

  15. #15
    NJ Ramsfan1 is offline Registered User
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    Re: Spagnuolo says no to Moss, yes to principles ..

    Quote Originally Posted by TylerBishop View Post
    I respect Spags decision like bernie said, but we are a playoff contender in this division and our gaping weakness on offense is wide reciever, and we passed up a good one.

    I just hope at the end of the day we realize that we are going to have to buy, not draft, a number one guy for next season.

    I have no doubt Devaney and Spags have identified the receiver position as one of primary need. What they are UNWILLING to do is "fix" the problem by plugging in a guy, be it V-Jax, Brandon Marshall, Moss, TO, etc. who could very well explode in their faces.

    And saying "you hope they realize he'll have to be bought, not drafted is highly debatable, in my opinion. Once in awhile, you can acquire a big-time receiver/running back through free agency or trade, but this is the exception. Football is not baseball; teams in football as a rule do not make blockbuster deals to become competitive- they draft intelligently.

    Henry Ellard, Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt- the best Rams receivers in the last 25 years- serve as proof of that.

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