St. Louis Rams coach Spagnuolo spells out philosophy
By Jim Thomas
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
Faith. Character. Core values. Team first.
"Those will be the four pillars that we will hang our hat on," said Steve Spagnuolo, the new Rams head coach.
On his first full day in St. Louis, Spagnuolo laid out his general football philosophy Monday. He said he's not about predictions or bold statements. But he's not lacking in confidence, either.
"As head coach, I will be committed to doing everything possible to bring success to this franchise," he said.
He just wouldn't say when.
"I'm not going to go there," Spagnuolo said. "One of the things I've learned from one of the best coaches I've ever worked for — Andy Reid — is it's a process.
"We're going to have to start at the beginning here, take it one step at a time, and build on it. ... We get the 'team first' together, and then we'll move on."
Somehow, you get the impression "Team First" will be emblazoned on T-shirts once the 2009 Rams reconvene for the offseason conditioning program in a couple of months.
"It will always be about 'team,'" Spagnuolo said. "It's not about egos. The teams that function the best, I believe in any industry, are those where nobody cares who gets the credit. Everybody just cares about the team. ... It begins and starts there."
As defensive coordinator of the New York Giants the past two seasons, Spagnuolo ran an aggressive, blitzing defense. He was tutored in such a scheme for eight seasons under defensive guru Jim Johnson in Philadelphia before joining the Giants.
"Jim was mentor, and is a mentor for me, because of who he is and how he coaches defensive football," Spagnuolo said. "I wouldn't be the coach that I am, I wouldn't have had even a chance to have any kind of success as a defensive coordinator, had I not worked for Jim. Just his passion for the game, the way he goes about it, his aggressive style, certainly is something that I'd like to adopt."
Besides Johnson, the two head coaches he has worked for in the NFL — Reid of Philadelphia and Tom Coughlin of the Giants — have been major influences on Spagnuolo's coaching style.
"You take bits and pieces from each," he said. "Really, at the core, they're both the same person in the way they go about things, the goals they've set, and where they're headed. Personalities might be different, but you pick out bits and pieces — hopefully mold what you have — and you hope to come out with a good product."
With his wife, Maria, watching, Spagnuolo made his comments in the Rams Park auditorium before one of the largest media gatherings in years. Also among those listening were players Tye Hill, Todd Johnson and Antonio Pittman. Hill didn't even know Spagnuolo's news conference was taking place when he wandered in Monday to get in some rehab work from a season-ending knee injury.
"I think it was a great hire," Hill said. "Especially me being a defensive guy and seeing what his defense has done. It speaks for itself. ... He's a winner."
Hill said his business partner is Giants strong safety James Butler. As soon as Hill learned Saturday that Spagnuolo had been hired, he called Butler to get a scouting report.
"He told me he's a great coach," Hill said. "He said we're lucky to have him."
Spagnuolo confessed Monday that he has very little knowledge of the Rams' roster. Before his finalist interview Thursday in Los Angeles, Spagnuolo said he threw on the Giants' tape of their game against the Rams in Week 2 of this season. And he looked at a Rams tape from later in the season.
"But you're going through it pretty fast," Spagnuolo said. "And you've got to remember now, I was still working for the Giants."
Following the Giants' season-ending playoff loss to Philadelphia, Spagnuolo was working on season-ending player evaluations and rankings for the team. He wasn't going to shirk those obligations to the Giants even though his Rams interview was looming.
Spagnuolo spoke in very general, complimentary terms when asked later about the cornerstones of the St. Louis offense — running back Steven Jackson and quarterback Marc Bulger.
As for his offensive philosophy, Spagnuolo said, "You've got to be able to run the football and protect the quarterback. That doesn't mean you run the football every snap, but I do believe you've got do those two things. We'll build from there, and we won't have a fancy name for it. We'll just try to be successful at it."
Long before he installs that offense — or the defense and special teams, for that matter — Spagnuolo must put together his staff.
One of the first names to surface as a potential offensive coordinator was Pat Shurmur, quarterbacks coach of the Eagles. Wide receivers coach David Culley, secondary coach Sean McDermott and offensive assistant Mark Whipple — all of the Eagles — also have been mentioned as possible staff additions. So has Giants quarterbacks coach Chris Palmer.
Carolina linebackers coach Ken Flajole has been mentioned as a possible candidate for defensive coordinator.
Re: St. Louis Rams coach Spagnuolo spells out philosophy
Isn't this the same article as in the thread entitled "Rebuilding time for Rams" ?