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Defense-first Spagnuolo appears to be leaning toward Bradford

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  • Defense-first Spagnuolo appears to be leaning toward Bradford

    By Jim Thomas

    From the start of his tenure in St. Louis 15 months ago, coach Steve Spagnuolo was clear on his vision for the Rams. He wanted to build a winner on the foundation of a strong defense and a powerful running game.

    As recently as mid-February, not long before the NFL scouting combine, Spagnuolo reiterated a variation of that win-in-the-trenches philosophy.

    "I've said this from the beginning, you build from the inside out," Spagnuolo said. "You start with the linemen and move your way out."

    Which seemed like a pretty strong hint that the Rams were leaning toward defensive tackles Ndamukong Suh of Nebraska or Gerald McCoy of Oklahoma with the No. 1 overall pick in the draft April 22. By almost universal acclaim, both are regarded as rare talents for the position.

    "They're both going to be really good football players," veteran NFL scout Dave Razzano said. "You can't go wrong with either. There hasn't been two d-linemen like this in a while."

    That may be true, but all signs continue to point to the Rams taking quarterback Sam Bradford of Oklahoma with the first pick in the draft.

    Team sources recently told the Post-Dispatch that there was indeed a point during the offseason when Spagnuolo wanted to go defense with the first pick.

    But that no longer appears to be case. As early as late February, Spagnuolo insisted that despite his defensive background, he could pull the trigger on a quarterback with the No. 1 overall pick.

    "I'm broadening my spectrum, my thought process," Spagnuolo joked at the combine. "I know we all get labeled as head coaches — defensive guy, offensive guy — but when you sit in this particular seat that I'm blessed to be in, you've got to look at it as a team."

    So if Spagnuolo as head coach says that quarterback is what's best for the team at No. 1 overall, then that's what will happen, trenches be damned.

    There are practical reasons to feel this way, as one veteran NFL coach bluntly points out.

    "Steven Jackson's a great player, but the Rams' issue is they have absolutely no game-changers on the football team," said the coach, speaking on the condition of anonymity. "Jackson's it. … They have no game-changers on offense. No game-changers on defense."

    It has taken years for the roster to deteriorate to this point, the coach said. "And there ain't a guy that's been there that isn't culpable to some degree for it, including the present group."

    Which feeds into why you take a talented quarterback prospect (Bradford) over a talented defensive tackle (Suh or McCoy). Simply stated, the quarterback position can change the game more than any other position.

    "Two of the best players in the draft are the two safeties — Eric Berry (Tennessee) and Earl Thomas (Texas)," the coach said. "They're two tremendous football players that are game-changers. But you're not going to take 'em up there (at the top of the draft) because you can't win the press conference."

    While it may be debatable whether you can thrill your fan base — or "win the press conference" — by taking Suh or McCoy at No. 1 overall, there's no doubt that both players will go very high in the draft. Both are projected as top five picks, and many mock drafts have Detroit taking Suh at No. 2 overall and Tampa Bay taking McCoy at No. 3.

    "When you're drafting at the top of the draft, you're looking for guys who aren't just a creation of the scheme, and you're looking for guys who have multidimensional skills — that can do a lot of different things," Detroit coach Jim Schwartz said.

    McCoy and Suh are considered three-down players who can play the run and rush the passer. By now, their differences are well documented. McCoy appears to be the more natural pass rusher but plays in an up-the-field system at Oklahoma designed to showcase such skills. Suh appears to be stronger and more of a power player, but he plays in a "two gap" system at Nebraska designed to highlight those skills. analyst Gil Brandt takes it a step further. He says the weight training program at Nebraska is designed to build strength and power in defensive linemen, while Oklahoma's emphasizes developing quickness over raw strength.

    Take all that into account and Schwartz doesn't think there's as much difference between the two players' styles as most people think.

    "They're very similar in their skill set," Schwartz said. "If you took Suh to Oklahoma and you took McCoy to Nebraska, I think they'd both excel in the other person's defense. … Both guys are big, they're fast, have high character, and both are productive at a high level of competition."

    But neither, it appears, will be headed to St. Louis.

    Unless, of course, Spagnuolo wakes up on draft day and has a defensive epiphany.

  • #2
    Re: Defense-first Spagnuolo appears to be leaning toward Bradford

    Spags can have all the epiphanies he wants. If the rest of the guys in the draft room (There are more than just Devaney and Spags behind decisions reagrding the draft) then he can talk all day. Devaney is the final authority in the draft process and he ultimately decides the pick. The other guys just give their input and help guide the pick.


    • #3
      Re: Defense-first Spagnuolo appears to be leaning toward Bradford

      I don't really see how this means he is leaning toward Sam?? seems to me like he was leaving it wide open like he is supposed to do...


      • #4
        Re: Defense-first Spagnuolo appears to be leaning toward Bradford

        Does anybody else find it a little hypocritical for the Rams to claim to be a "run first team", and then go out and draft a pocket passer like Sam Bradford?
        Last edited by ; -04-15-2010, 08:26 PM.


        • #5
          Re: Defense-first Spagnuolo appears to be leaning toward Bradford

          Only if the Jets are also hypocritical?
          "I've been saving the Universe for over a thousand years. I figure it owes me just this once."


          • #6
            Re: Defense-first Spagnuolo appears to be leaning toward Bradford

            Yeah lets just not have a QB and let Jackson run it. Having a big running game is fine ( as long as its effective). Having a field general that can also take over games is nice too, don't ya think? To have an effective running game you also need a fairly effective passing game to let the defense know that you can do something else.


            • #7
              Re: Defense-first Spagnuolo appears to be leaning toward Bradford

              Originally posted by The Optimistic Lamb View Post
              Does anybody else find it a little hypocritical for the Rams to claim to be a "run first team", and then go out and draft a pocket passer like Sam Bradford?
              As we have found out, we can be a run first team and lose 15 games. Even being a run first team you need a balanced attack. If you don't have a decent QB, run first isnt effective.

              A good QB will help our running game immensely.


              • #8
                Re: Defense-first Spagnuolo appears to be leaning toward Bradford

                Originally posted by The Optimistic Lamb View Post
                Does anybody else find it a little hypocritical for the Rams to claim to be a "run first team", and then go out and draft a pocket passer like Sam Bradford?
                They haven't drafted him yet. And no, I don't find it hypocritical for the reasons stated the previous posts.


                • #9
                  Re: Defense-first Spagnuolo appears to be leaning toward Bradford

                  Originally posted by swatter555 View Post
                  A good QB with effective targets and protection will help our running game immensely.
                  Fixed it for you.


                  • #10
                    Re: Defense-first Spagnuolo appears to be leaning toward Bradford

                    My take on this is that Devaney is doing everything he can to orchestrate a trade. I don't think anyone other than Spags has a clue as to which way Billy D. is leaning, and that is exactly as it should be ..

                    I also have a gut feeling that Bradford will not be a Ram ..


                    • #11
                      Re: Defense-first Spagnuolo appears to be leaning toward Bradford

                      Hey People, I would love to be the "Greatest Show on Turf" again. I've got nothing against having a franchise QB and star WR's.

                      But it's stupid to be looking for the next Payton Manning if you plan to run the ball more than throw it. Doesnt make sense. They're lying to us.
                      Last edited by ; -04-16-2010, 10:07 AM.


                      • #12
                        Re: Defense-first Spagnuolo appears to be leaning toward Bradford

                        Originally posted by MauiRam View Post
                        My take on this is that Devaney is doing everything he can to orchestrate a trade. I don't think anyone other than Spags has a clue as to which way Billy D. is leaning, and that is exactly as it should be ..

                        I also have a gut feeling that Bradford will not be a Ram ..
                        i hope your gut is right.


                        Related Topics


                        • clarasDK
                          Ridin' Road to No. 1 With Rams Head Coach Steve Spagnuolo
                          by clarasDK
                          (Edit: the source was not

                          by: Anthony L. Gargano

                          found on

                          ST. LOUIS -- The day that would shape the man's future moved mercifully toward finality as he dashed from the darkened team headquarters through the steady spring rain to his SUV in the parking spot labeled "Head Coach". Following months of torturous deliberation that sent him and the staff cross country and back, sifting through endless possibilities in the name of due diligence, they had made their decision.

                          Nothing left to do now but embrace hope and kiss it up to the fates.

                          Entranced by a lonely, wet highway and the rhythmic movement and hum of overworking windshield wipers, the man momentarily slipped into reflective thought midway into his 40-minute drive home to the city. He didn't appear to notice the muffled radio program in the background that talked of the night's events -- quite enthusiastically, by the way. He figured the town would happily comply with their selection, and that was always welcome, given the importance of public opinion to the industry.

                          Still, though, the fickle nature of it meant that if somehow the 22-year-old quarterback who played two games and change last year didn't become the franchise as planned for the St. Louis Rams, everyone would forget how they felt at this moment and call ingloriously for his hide.

                          The man could handle the torchbearers. The notion of failure, he couldn't stomach that. He didn't sacrifice his life for the coaching calling to lose. Without kin in the game, he landed his own sprawling office with the two desks -- one for the many business details of coaching football in the NFL, the other stationed in front of a large flat screen for the "fun stuff," the actual football element, film study and game-planning -- on the second floor of Rams Park by working rungs, beginning way back in 1983.

                          Graduate assistant at Massachusetts. Intern with the Redskins. Defensive line and special teams coach at Lafayette. Defensive backs coach and defensive coordinator at Connecticut, before the Huskie ascent to the Big East. Special teams and defensive line coach for the Barcelona Dragons. Scout for the Chargers. Defensive backs and linebackers coach and defensive coordinator at Maine. Defensive backs coach at Rutgers. Defensive backs coach at Bowling Green. Linebackers coach and defensive coordinator for the Frankfurt Galaxy. Defensive assistant for the Eagles.

                          In 2001, he rose to defensive backs coach for the Eagles. Then linebackers coach in 2004. Then defensive coordinator for the Giants in 2007. Buoyed by his unit, the Giants won the Super Bowl that year. He rebuffed head-coaching offers that offseason, and stuck around one more season, out of loyalty and the handsome raise that amounted into the first real money he earned in 25 years in the business.

                          -04-26-2010, 11:41 AM
                        • tomahawk247
                          If draft was today, Rams would apparently select DT McCoy
                          by tomahawk247
                          Report from Rotoworld:
                          According to's John Czarnecki, Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo would select Oklahoma DT Gerald McCoy if the draft was today.
                          Spags apparently feels strongly enough about McCoy that the rest of the front office would go along the pick. Fans of Sam Bradford in the organization will have to wait for his pro day in late March to build momentum. If Bradford is able to allay doubts about his shoulder, we still believe the Rams will end up going quarterback at No. 1.

                          What Jon Czarnecki actually said on his post:
                          If the draft was today, the Rams would select Oklahoma defensive tackle Gerald McCoy because he is the player that head coach Steve Spagnuolo likes better. Fortunately for Rams fans who want a quarterback after passing on Matt Ryan and Mark Sanchez the past two Aprils, the team has seven weeks to change Spags’ mind. McCoy’s OU teammate, quarterback Sam Bradford, plans to throw and show off his surgically repaired right shoulder on March 25. A year ago, Bradford was the consensus top quarterback, ahead of Matthew Stafford, but he opted to return to play college football.

                          Interesting, but also unsurprising considering the timing. We have heard people talk about Suh going number 1, and about Bradford, but not much about McCoy going there. No surprise to see the Rams make it a definite three horse race and keep people guessing til the draft gets closer. I have heard Mike Mayock's reasons for putting McCoy over Suh, but the two players were tied going in to the combine and Suh did better in almost every drill, so i see no reason to think McCoy is better personally
                          -03-02-2010, 05:05 PM
                        • r8rh8rmike
                          Choosing Bradford Is Risky Business
                          by r8rh8rmike
                          Choosing Bradford is risky business

                          By Jeff Gordon
                          STLTODAY.COM SPORTS COLUMNIST

                          As it turned out, the Rams could have selected Nebraska star Ndamukong Suh with their first overall pick and bolstered their defense at the point of the attack.

                          Then they could have added Texas quarterback Colt McCoy in the second round. This one-two combination could have advanced the program quickly.

                          Suh would have created instant impact. When rookie head coach Steve Spagnuolo arrived, he vowed to rebuild the Rams from the lines out, with strong defense and a powerful running game serving as his foundation.

                          The addition of a disruptive defensive tackle would have elevated the whole unit. Suh would have made Chris Long better at defensive end. He would have made James Laurinaitis better at middle linebacker, too.

                          The Rams front seven would have become far more imposing.

                          McCoy would have been a natural fit for the Rams’ version of the West Coast offense. He is mobile, gritty and effective in a short passing scheme.

                          Earning second-round dollars, McCoy could have developed at a sensible pace. He would have been just another good prospect, not the Face of the Franchise and Offensive Savior.

                          Alas, we will never know how this sensible approach would have played out for the Rams.

                          Suh is in Motown now, ready to help the Lions finally re-emerge. McCoy is still waiting to get picked. The Rams are still deciding what to do with their 33rd pick, which the team could convert into multiple picks before the second round starts.

                          The Rams chose a different and more difficult course, taking quarterback Sam Bradford with its first overall pick.

                          The selection brought almost universal praise from NFL experts. Bradford is head and shoulders above McCoy as a prospect. Almost everybody agrees on that.

                          But can he quickly move a 1-15 team forward? The challenge will be enormous.

                          Bradford will get a record-setting amount of guaranteed money coming into the league. The stakes will be incredible.

                          At these dollars, the Rams must develop Bradford into a Top 10 NFL quarterback -– and do it quickly.

                          He is coming off major shoulder injuries. He must adapt to the Rams’ version of the West Coast offense, which is nothing like the spread offense he played at Oklahoma.

                          He takes the helm of one of the most inept offenses in NFL history. Despite employing Pro Bowl-caliber running back Steven Jackson, the 1-15 Rams averaged 10.9 points per game last season.

                          TEN POINT NINE! It is almost impossible to be that feckless, especially playing in the weak NFC West.

                          Has any rookie quarterback been confronted with a greater challenge?

                          Ideally, Bradford would take his time to reach his...
                          -04-23-2010, 11:07 AM
                        • eldfan
                          Rams keeping a close eye on Bradford as prospective No. 1
                          by eldfan
                          BY JIM THOMAS [email protected] > 314-340-8197


                          ORLANDO, FLA. — Steve Spagnuolo has studied a lot of film on quarterback Sam Bradford.

                          "The one thing that jumps out is his accuracy," Spagnuolo said. "He's extremely accurate. I was talking to a couple other (NFL) head coaches about him, and that's the first thing they say, too."

                          Last month at the NFL scouting combine, Spagnuolo came away from the Rams' allotted 15-minute interview session impressed with the University of Oklahoma quarterback.

                          "Everything you hear about him, that's said, it's legit," Spagnuolo said. "He walks into a room, you can see he's a quarterback. That was impressive to me." ShopSTL Marketplace

                          Rainbow Play Systems, Inc.

                          There were about 10 Rams officials on hand, including Spagnuolo, general manager Billy Devaney, offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur and several scouts when Bradford walked into the combine meeting room in Indianapolis. There were floodlights in the room as well because the Rams were taping the interview.

                          "There were a lot of bodies in there, in kind of a small room," Spagnuolo recalled. "It was a little intimidating, or it could've been for a 22-year-old guy. And yet, he walked in and did not seem to be —— wasn't rattled at all. I think that's a good sign."

                          So the Rams can mark accuracy (from film) and presence (from that meeting room) on their Bradford checklist. But the "big enchilada" in terms of evaluation comes Monday in Norman, Okla. That's when Bradford has his pro day at the University of Oklahoma.

                          It marks the first time the Rams, or any other NFL team, will see Bradford throw since the season-ending injury to his throwing shoulder last fall for the Sooners. And it's the best way to gauge Bradford's arm strength.

                          "You've got to get that live in my opinion," Spagnuolo said Wednesday at the NFC coaches breakfast. "When you're on film, is the wind blowing against him or with him? You don't really know. So I think you've got to assess (arm strength) live."

                          Spagnuolo also will get another gauge of Bradford's "presence" — this time on a football field instead of the more controlled setting of the combine meeting room. Spagnuolo will see how Bradford reacts with his teammates and the coaches who are on hand. He'll study Bradford's body language.

                          "He's in his own setting now," Spagnuolo said. "I'm really interested in that. I'm going to try to grab him by myself at some point, probably early in the morning, just him and I. See if I can pull a couple other things out of him, find out a little bit more. And just come away with an overall assessment."

                          League sources told the Post-Dispatch last week that Devaney...
                          -03-25-2010, 06:45 AM
                        • r8rh8rmike
                          Spagnuolo "Praying And Hoping" For A Win, Not Suh
                          by r8rh8rmike
                          01.01.2010 3:26 pm
                          Spagnuolo “praying and hoping” for a win, not Suh
                          By Bill Coats
                          St. Louis Post-Dispatch

                          St. Louis Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo didn’t wake up on the first morning of 2010 with visions of Ndamukong Suh dancing in his head. Spagnuolo’s dream is a victory Sunday over the ***** to close out his first season here.

                          The draft can wait.

                          Spagnuolo wants his 1-14 outfit “to play as a team, basically do what they’ve been doing, which is to have tremendous fight, tremendous resolve. It’s a character group of guys; I’ve always said that. Just praying and hoping to finish out a winning note. That’s what we’re all hoping for this week.”

                          Notes & quotes:

                          *Barring a major surprise, rookie QB Keith Null will start his fourth consecutive game Sunday. He got the vast majority of the first-team snaps this week.

                          *DE Leonard Little sat out again Friday while his knee heals where an infection was drained. He’s listed as questionable for the game. “He hasn’t gotten, obviously, any reps this week. But he’s been doing this a long time, so that doesn’t concern us,” Spagnuolo said. “It’s all about the wound healing. We’ve got 48 more hours, so we’ll keep our fingers crossed.”

                          *RB Steven Jackson (back) and LB Paris Lenon (toe) also are questionable. Probables are WR Donnie Avery (thigh), LB James Laurinaitis (knee) and DE Chris Long (hamstring). T Jason Smith is doubtful, and CB Quincy Butler (ankle, knee) is out.

                          *Roger Allen, an undrafted rookie from Division II Missouri Western State, is expected to start at left guard. He saw his first regular-season action last week after Mark Setterstrom torn his left triceps late in the first half. Getting into a couple of games at the end of the season will “definitely give me a little boost and momentum into the offseason and in camp” next summer, Allen said.
                          -01-01-2010, 11:09 PM