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  • Probably The Best Article I've Read All Year

    Spagnuolo has Rams on right track.


    Don Banks. SI.com
    First-year Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo has*team on right track - Don Banks - SI.com
    ST. LOUIS -- One of my favorite things to do on an NFL training camp tour is to visit a team that features a rookie head coach, as the Rams do this year after hiring ex-Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo this offseason. Though I'm usually blowing through camp in a day or so, you can often learn a lot from watching those early days of a new regime, seeing whether or not the veterans on that team are buying what the new guy is selling, and seeing a first-time coach in the process of finding out who he can and can't count on.
    True, trying to take an accurate temperature reading of an organization's new program after interviewing a handful of players for a matter of minutes is your basic snap judgment, writ large. It's far from foolproof. But sometimes it can be dead on.
    For example, after stops at both the Falcons and Ravens training camps last summer, I came away believing that rookie head coaches Mike Smith and John Harbaugh both had a pretty good handle on what it was going to take to turn Atlanta and Baltimore around, and that they had already put the wheels in motion. It's not that I saw 11-5 seasons coming for both, far from it. But I did see two teams that were in the process of fully buying into Smith and Harbaugh's approaches, and I sensed it would pay dividends at some point.
    In an inverse way, the same was true for the 2007 Falcons, who I also paid a camp visit to, in order to discover what the new Bobby Petrino era was all about in Atlanta. One day there and I had the feeling trouble was on way for the Birds that season, thanks largely to the degree of skepticism I heard coming from key Atlanta veterans. And you know how that story turned out: Petrino's rookie season was his only NFL season, as his 13-game tenure was a debacle of epic proportion.
    All that said, I'm ready to make the call that Spagnuolo seems like the right man for the job that faces his downtrodden Rams. While their NFL-worst 5-27 record the past two years breeds a certain amount of willingness to follow anyone with a plan, the Rams convinced me that Spagnuolo has been pitch perfect so far in his make-over efforts in St. Louis.
    "I was talking to someone in the locker room two days ago, and I said, 'He hasn't told us a lie yet,' '' Rams second-year defensive end Chris Long told me Thursday afternoon, after another two-a-day practice was in the books. "Everything he's said has been on point. I thought we bought into Spags the minute he walked in the door. I had never heard him talk or seen him before, but I knew where he had been, and that resume spoke for itself. On top of that, he's a man who treats people with respect, and when he speaks, guys listen and really embrace his notion of respecting team.''
    Watching Spagnuolo work a practice is like watching a bee pollinate an entire field, one flower at a time. With a yellow pencil tucked behind his right ear, a'la ex-Vikings coach Mike Tice, he's here, there and everywhere, teaching and instructing at all times. Calling him high energy really doesn't do his style justice. Spagnuolo really is a hands-on coach, and not in the clichéd way we usually throw that label around. He doesn't mind a bit putting his hands on players and showing them the point he's trying to convey.
    "I do enjoy getting around and seeing everything,'' Spagnuolo said, taking a break in his upstairs office after the morning practice. "My mother was a teacher, and that's what coaching is, teaching. I don't know if I could stand around there (on the field) and not do some teaching. It'd be hard for me to do that.''
    Maybe on some teams, Spagnuolo's up-tempo style wouldn't fly as well. But the Rams are ready and willing to listen after last season's 2-14 nightmare, and he has sold the team's most influential stars -- from running back Steven Jackson on down -- on the wisdom of his ways.
    "They've embraced his energy and his style,'' Rams general manager Billy Devaney said. "He's got everybody buying in. The key guys. The building. The employees, the whole entire organization is buying what he's trying to do. Both the team and the whole building, we needed some juice. Throughout the locker room, and throughout (the team's front office), that's why he was the perfect guy.''
    The Rams players knew for certain that there was a new sheriff in town right from the start of camp. Spagnuolo had them hitting in full pads, in 11-on-11 team drills on day two. Going "live'' that early in camp isn't exactly the NFL norm, but the rookie head coach followed it up with more of the same on day three, four, five and six. And not one Rams player has publicly grumbled, not even Jackson, the team's No. 1 offensive weapon who took a wicked hit at knee-level from second-year linebacker Chris Chamberlain on a screen pass in one recent "live'' drill.
    "First of all, this team is hungry,'' said Rams center Jason Brown, the ex-Raven who was the centerpiece of St. Louis's efforts in free agency. "We only have one direction to go, and that's up. We have a new guy in front of our faces with brand new ideas, and he's full of enthusiasm.
    "We're going to come out here and do whatever he says. To go live like this day after day? Some guys are not used to this at all. Maybe they usually went live two or three days out of the entire training camp. But my theory is when we go out there on game day, those other guys aren't going to be holding back. Why wouldn't we prepare for that in live situations?''
    Brown lived through the first year of the Harbaugh era in Baltimore last year, and he saw the instant pay-off that the former Eagles special teams and secondary coach brought to the Ravens. Like Spagnuolo, who served as a defensive assistant with the Eagles from 199-2006 before joining the Giants in 2007, Harbaugh learned his commitment to physicality in practice from longtime Eagles head coach Andy Reid. That belief was buttressed, Spagnuolo said, by his two years with Giants head coach Tom Coughlin.
    "It wasn't really a wake up for this team to practice like that, it's just how we believe we should do it,'' Spagnuolo said. "I've been used to Andy Reid and Tom Coughlin and I respect them. I think they're two of the best in the league. Why wouldn't you try and do what they do? I wouldn't try to create my own deal just to have my own deal. Andy always said that if you don't hit at this point in camp, when else are you going to do it? You lose the chance.
    "I'm not trying to wear them out. Their response has been great. By the third day, when I was calling for 'thud,' which is not (full contact), they were like 'What do you mean, Coach? We're not going live?' Maybe they're trying to make me feel good, but they said it.''
    As Devaney mentioned, the impact of the new Spagnuolo era has been felt almost as much throughout the Rams team complex as it has on the field. Losing organizations often develop sloppy habits across the board, and to say that some of St. Louis' ways of doing business internally were lax is an understatement. Spagnuolo, along with Devaney, has moved quickly to change the laissez-faire culture that had creeped into Rams Park since the team's most recent playoff appearance in 2004.
    "There were a lot of people that were here that were on scholarship,'' Devaney said. "It just bothered me that we'd come in Monday mornings during the season, and it just seemed like the environment was, 'Oh, well. We lost, and it's another day at work. It doesn't affect me.' That's not acceptable. Everything we do, everything everybody does, the football team has to be the most important thing in this building. That's what drives this building. That's what we're here for. (Spagnuolo) wants them to feel a part of it, but at the same time, they have their jobs to do and we have ours. It's all about these 53 players.''
    What Devaney is describing is what sometimes happens in the NFL when a losing organization allows the focus to drift away from the football part of the business, to other peripheral areas. That's exactly what happened in St. Louis in recent years, and dysfunction can result.
    "Around here the past couple years, it was the most bizarre thing,'' Devaney said. "You'd walk through the locker room and there were people in there you had no idea who they were. It was just free rein, with marketing people taking sponsors, and people sitting and eating with the players. It was like, 'You got to be kidding.' It was so loose and out of control. There was no control. You didn't know who was walking the hallways. We had to tighten things up around here. We can't have it that way. It was totally chaotic.''
    Rams veterans have noticed the sea change Spagnuolo has wrought. It hasn't translated into any wins yet, but it's only early August. Time will tell how much an improved atmosphere around Rams Park leads to an improved performance on game days.
    "The operation's tightened up,'' Long said. "To win in the NFL, you need to have that atmosphere in everything you do. From the cafeteria to the players lounge, to taking down the pictures of individuals in the hallways. It's little stuff like that, but there are nuances to winning as a football team.''
    Spagnuolo is under no illusions. He knows he's in his honeymoon period with the Rams, and all his changes within the team will be subject to a week-to-week referendum by his players, the fans and the media once the regular season begins. Anything in the range of five or six wins would represent a quantum improvement in St. Louis this season, and buy Spagnuolo's program both time and further political capital.
    It's only the earliest of reads, but I like what I see of Spagnuolo's Rams. They're hungry, they're trying to remake themselves with a more physical style of play, and they're convinced they finally have a belief and philosophy in place they can win with. First impressions aren't always right, but in St. Louis, the worst is finally over.
    Quick hits from Rams camp:
    • It's a tough early-season schedule for St. Louis, so a fast start might be out of the question. The Rams play four of their first six on the road, with Seattle and Washington the first two games, then San Francisco and Jacksonville around home games against Green Bay and Minnesota. Throw in a tough home game against Indy in Week 7, and the Rams won't be easing into the Spagnuolo era.
    • The team's 2008 first-round pick, defensive end Chris Long, looks quicker off the ball, and is part of a veteran Rams defensive end group (along with Leonard Little and James Hall) that has stood out early on.
    "I came into the league understanding that things don't happen overnight,'' said Long, who had four sacks as a rookie but none in his final nine games of the season. "I kind of studied other D-ends, and saw the way their progression went. A lot of times you have a decent first year, but maybe not up to expectations. But if you work at it and come in ready to really handle your business and learn from your first year, you can really take that big jump in year two.''
    • Not surprisingly, first-round offensive tackle Jason Smith has looked stronger in run blocking than he has in pass blocking. Smith did not play with his hand down on the ground at Baylor, and the Rams concede he's a work in progress in a three-point stance. He has handled the inside pass rush, but struggled in defending against the edge rush. Smith is working mostly with the first team at right tackle, and gotten a few second and third-team reps at left tackle.
    • Hard to watch second-round linebacker James Laurinaitis and not see him as a natural who could start for the next 10 years in St. Louis. He just looks like a football player, and the Rams say he has already impressed team veterans with his passion for the game, his smarts, and his business-like approach to his play and the game.
    • I suppose a lot of teams could say the same thing, but there's a bit of a drop-off at quarterback after starter Mark Bulger. Veteran addition Kyle Boller has looked only so-so, and Brock Berlin and rookie Keith Null haven't turned any heads in the first week of camp.
    Last edited by RamDez; -08-09-2009, 09:08 AM. Reason: adjusted font

  • #2
    Re: Probably The Best Article I've Read All Year

    It looks like whatever the clanram has for an built in editor automatically shrunk the font in the article and re-spaced everything. It's a fairly long two page read over at si.com, but it's definitely well worth it.
    Last edited by mikhal5569; -08-09-2009, 06:58 AM.

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    • #3
      Re: Probably The Best Article I've Read All Year

      Like I said, I just have a good feeling about where the team is going. We may not even make the playoffs this year, but I can tell we are going to make big strides and form a great football team. If it hasn't been said enough... We are moving in the right direction!
      Always and Forever a fan of the St. Louis Rams

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Probably The Best Article I've Read All Year

        Pound the Big Boy and pray on defense (and passing downs). The motto of the 2009 Rams.

        ramming speed to all

        general counsel

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Probably The Best Article I've Read All Year

          very true what jason brown said" he have only one way to go. and that it is up" this year should be full of good surprises

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Probably The Best Article I've Read All Year

            Not that I'm not equally excited about the start of the Spags era but Banks' article strikes me as blatant bandwagonning. Precious little detail about the team's personnel/issues to support his optimisic view except for headline names indicate that he is an NFL starf%#ker of the most pathetic kind.

            A non-Ram fan attempting to learn why it is happening from this article would be a bit like trying to seriously learn about filmmaking by reading People magazine or watching TMZ.

            I especially love the bet-hedging in the early paragraphs; "Oh, I knew Harbaugh and Smith were on track..well,maybe not KNEW exactly but...

            "True, trying to take an accurate temperature reading of an organization's new program after interviewing a handful of players for a matter of minutes is your basic snap judgment, writ large. It's far from foolproof. But sometimes it can be dead on.'

            In other words, you want to throw it out there in case The Rams are successful so you can claim to have predicted it( as you are now doing re The Falcons and Ravens, the latter being a poor example of a turnaround,anyway,since they already had a great D & didn't need much offensive improvement to be contenders) but cover your butt if your journalistically lazy and shallow analysis is wrong.

            I AM bummed to learn that I've missed the chance to picnic with The Rams in the lockerroom, though. That would have been fun.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Probably The Best Article I've Read All Year

              This is NEW information though. No more riff-raff/homeys/agents. The team eats togeather, like a team. And Warners picture comes down off the wall.
              Look away. I'm hideous. __ Cozmo Kramer

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Probably The Best Article I've Read All Year

                Originally posted by Azul e Oro View Post
                Not that I'm not equally excited about the start of the Spags era but Banks' article strikes me as blatant bandwagonning. Precious little detail about the team's personnel/issues to support his optimisic view except for headline names indicate that he is an NFL starf%#ker of the most pathetic kind.

                A non-Ram fan attempting to learn why it is happening from this article would be a bit like trying to seriously learn about filmmaking by reading People magazine or watching TMZ.

                I especially love the bet-hedging in the early paragraphs; "Oh, I knew Harbaugh and Smith were on track..well,maybe not KNEW exactly but...

                "True, trying to take an accurate temperature reading of an organization's new program after interviewing a handful of players for a matter of minutes is your basic snap judgment, writ large. It's far from foolproof. But sometimes it can be dead on.'

                In other words, you want to throw it out there in case The Rams are successful so you can claim to have predicted it( as you are now doing re The Falcons and Ravens, the latter being a poor example of a turnaround,anyway,since they already had a great D & didn't need much offensive improvement to be contenders) but cover your butt if your journalistically lazy and shallow analysis is wrong.
                If the article was entitled: Everything You Need to Know about the 2009 Rams, I'd agree with some of your criticisms, but much is in the eye of the beholder I suppose. The meat of the article for me as a reader and Ram fan, was simply that from veterans to rookies the team believes in its new head coach. Obviously a good thing for a team that went 5-27 over the last two seasons. The other thing I enjoyed reading was the commentary on Laurinaitis (I still have trouble spelling that one). I didn't get the feeling at all Don was grandstanding or trying to make a prediction on our win-loss record, rather that he merely felt the team is hungry and is buying in to the new staff's coaching philosophy. I enjoyed the article,.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Probably The Best Article I've Read All Year

                  Originally posted by Azul e Oro View Post
                  Not that I'm not equally excited about the start of the Spags era but Banks' article strikes me as blatant bandwagonning. Precious little detail about the team's personnel/issues to support his optimisic view except for headline names indicate that he is an NFL starf%#ker of the most pathetic kind.
                  I thought along somewhat the same lines while reading. He also said (more or less) that he felt he could predict that the Falcons & Ravens would be successful last year and the miserable failure Petrino would be when he was with the Falcons. That may be true, I haven't followed his articles so I don't know if he was indeed predicting each of those cases. I don't doubt that he posted glowing, positive articles about the Falcons & Ravens last year. I am however VERY much inclined to believe that he did not post anything negative whatsoever about Petrino in Atlanta, even if he felt that he would not be successful. To me that's kind of a test that I subject any writer (including fans on this board and elsewhere) to: Are you capable of saying something negative and possibly unpopular if that's your honest assessment or are you simply a people-pleaser that only posts positive articles about everything? To me most professional writers fail that test, they're afraid to rub someone the wrong way so they generally write overly positive articles about the different teams' upcoming seasons, draft picks, new coaches etc. If this guy is the exception and he actually put his neck out and posted a negative article criticising Petrino's handling of his coaching duties before that season started I won't hesitate to praise him for it, but I strongly doubt that's the case. A lot of fans fail that test too, and automatically think whatever draftpick their team made is awesome and every new hire is genius, that is of course to be expected, fans easily get carried away, even intelligent levelheaded people can get caught up in the hype when you're talking about their favorite team. I do however expect more than mindless cheerleading from professional writers. How do you know someone is being honest if he's always positive (or negative for that matter, though that is rarer)? And what value does someone's opinion have if you're not even sure he believes what he's saying himself? Like I said, I don't know the writer of this article well enough to say with certainty how much of that applies to him - these are just general observations that I felt like sharing.

                  What Devaney is describing is what sometimes happens in the NFL when a losing organization allows the focus to drift away from the football part of the business, to other peripheral areas. That's exactly what happened in St. Louis in recent years, and dysfunction can result.
                  "Around here the past couple years, it was the most bizarre thing,'' Devaney said. "You'd walk through the locker room and there were people in there you had no idea who they were. It was just free rein, with marketing people taking sponsors, and people sitting and eating with the players. It was like, 'You got to be kidding.' It was so loose and out of control. There was no control. You didn't know who was walking the hallways. We had to tighten things up around here. We can't have it that way. It was totally chaotic.''
                  In line with what I said above I love reading stuff like this. Don't get me wrong, I'm not the kind of guy that relishes bad news for its own sake (not unless that's news about the Patriots of course ;)). But I like accountability and I like honesty. If something doesn't work I prefer people to be straightforward about it and let us know - above all I hate the bland marketing-doublespeak BS you hear everywhere every day from most people that have to deal with the public - spin, spin, spin. That piece however is an interesting and revealing glimpse into the ineptitude of the previous management.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Probably The Best Article I've Read All Year

                    The moral of the story: A family that eats together wins together!

                    I'm drinking the KOOL-AID as long as SPAGS is offering it.

                    Who's with me?
                    sigpic :ram::helmet:

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                    • r8rh8rmike
                      A New Rams PLan
                      by r8rh8rmike
                      A new Rams plan

                      By Jim Thomas
                      ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
                      08/30/2009

                      One of the first things you notice on the practice field is the ever-present pencil. It's resting on Steve Spagnuolo's ear. Or in his hand.

                      He'll squat like a catcher at home plate and start scribbling while a drill takes place 10 feet away at Rams Park.

                      He's used the same kind of Papermate pencil for the last decade. You know, the plastic ones where you turn the end to get the lead out. Spagnuolo uses it on the football field to help his players get the lead out.

                      What's he writing about?

                      "I actually don't (know)," safety James Butler said. "But I know when he gets up to speak to the team, he has a list of notes. So I don't know if he's writing down in practice what's going on or what. But he's always writing down notes."

                      And then there are the practice "props."

                      — The long plastic strip that's placed at the line of scrimmage, with the letters T-G-C-G-T on it. (As in tackle, guard, center, etc.)

                      — The red cones placed several yards behind the line of scrimmage. (Players not involved in the play must stay behind the cones.)

                      — The footballs with the tips painted white. (It's to get defensive backs in the habit of catching the ball at the tips.)

                      — The "beeper box," which goes off when the quarterback has held the ball too long during 7-on-7 passing drills. (It can be calibrated for 3-step, 5-step and 7-step drops.)

                      You look at all this, and you wonder if Spagnuolo was the type of kid who took a lot of notes, kept his room clean, made his bed.

                      "I probably would say yeah," Spagnuolo said, flashing a "you got me" look at the questioner. "I was actually one of those people that went to class. I can't sit here and say I didn't go. I did. And I always took notes. If I didn't take good notes, I wasn't going to do good. Because I had to study. I wasn't a natural learner."

                      The bed making?

                      "I don't know why I remember this," Spagnuolo said. "(Maybe) because my mother used to say it to people. I made my bed every day till I got to be like 15 or 16 — whatever that age is (for teenage rebellion). And then all of a sudden I became not quite as consistent."

                      So yes, Spagnuolo always had a clean room.

                      "I don't know, I operate a little bit better that way," he said.

                      IT'S IN THE DETAILS

                      Now, at age 49, Spagnuolo is trying to make the Rams operate a lot better as a rookie NFL head coach. The task is daunting to say the least. This is a franchise that hasn't been in the playoffs since 2004, hasn't had a winning season since 2003, and has lost 27 of its last 32 games.

                      As he tries to lay the foundation...
                      -08-30-2009, 03:11 PM
                    • BEER
                      Great article.
                      by BEER
                      Training camp - news

                      Gatorade

                      Posted about 19 hours ago
                      22 Comments 1 Recommendation E-mail


                      With Spagnuolo at the helm, Rams embrace physical style of play

                      By Steve Wyche | NFL.com
                      Senior Writer



                      EARTH CITY, Mo. -- It's nearly a week into training camp, when players start to wear down as the physical and mental overload start to grab hold. After reading and hearing about how hard first-year coach Steve Spagnuolo was pushing the team, it wouldn't have been surprising to see the Rams simply grind through things Thursday. And with a scrimmage on Friday, watching guys on cruise control was what I expected. So did Spagnuolo.
                      "I was waiting for it," he said.
                      Instead, the Rams staged one of the most aggressive, fast-paced, physical practices I've seen in years. There was non-stop live tackling, full-bore hitting in nearly every drill and a tempo that forced every player and coach to be attentive because, at any moment, Spagnuolo could call for a special teams intervention.
                      "How can you tell if a guy can tackle? How can you tell if a running back can break a tackle," Spagnuolo said about putting his team through "live" workouts.
                      The interesting thing, players seemed to embrace the demanding workload.
                      "Spags is trying to change this whole mentality," rookie linebacker James Laurinaitis said. "This will be a physical team. We're not just going to talk it. We're going to go out there and do it and practice what we preach. If you're not going to be able to be physical, you're not going to be here."
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                      Working in Spagnuolo's favor is the fact that the Rams are such a young group, most players don't realize that the majority of teams don't get after it consistently the way St. Louis has in training camp. There are 23 players on the 80-man roster who are 23 or younger. There are only four players over 30.
                      Besides establishing a physical tone, Spagnuolo said he believes players need to hit early in training camp because starters play so little in the preseason.
                      "I've always believed that if you don't get it done at some point, you'll be behind when the season starts," Spagnuolo said.
                      "Spags, he is definitely challenging us," said center Jason Brown, who signed as a free agent from Baltimore....
                      -08-07-2009, 02:25 PM
                    • Alec22
                      Rams Staying the Course
                      by Alec22
                      By Nick Wagoner
                      Senior Writer

                      By his own admission Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo can often have the sound of a broken record.

                      Each week, win or lose, rain or snow, no matter the circumstance, Spagnuolo squares his jaw, focuses on the task at hand and approaches every game the same way.

                      More than halfway into his rookie season as a head coach, Spagnuolo has never strayed from the team-first ethos he installed from the day he arrived in St. Louis way back in January.

                      In the face of plenty of adversity, Spagnuolo has uttered nary a discouraging word and anyone looking for a full-throated, raging outburst should look elsewhere. And a little prosperity hasn’t had the opposite effect, either as Spagnuolo hasn’t come close to any type of braggadocio.

                      “I have had my moments (of frustration),” Spagnuolo said. “But I think there’s a professional way to do it. I think everybody in this business should be respected for the jobs they have. I think any business is about respecting each other. I don’t see any reason to go off the cuff. I keep that to myself. Part of what we talk about as a team is being a poised team. You can’t be a poised team if the head coach isn’t poised.”

                      Regardless of the record, if there’s one thing that has remained constant in this first year under Spagnuolo’s guidance it’s his and his team’s uncanny knack to remain unfazed by any possible distractions.

                      Spagnuolo’s message reaches to the team, too. There have been no locker room or sideline blowups, only players staying relentlessly positive and focusing on the single goal of coming together as a team with the sole focus of finding ways to win football games.

                      “Being a guy who has been here with the Rams now going for five years,” safety Oshiomogho Atogwe said. “Some of the younger guys and some of the vets need to see loyalty and faithfulness from the guys that have already been here and that’s going to carry over throughout the locker room so you just build a team that is really focused on one goal and one purpose and being one.”

                      BUYING IN

                      At Spagnuolo’s initial news conference when he was introduced as the head coach, he made it clear the way he and general manager Billy Devaney wanted to build the team back into a winner.

                      Topping the list was finding a way to build a team that was all about team. A team that would fill the locker room with players that care as much about the guy next to them as they do themselves.

                      Spagnuolo put the Rams through a rigorous training camp that had them tackling in full pads from day one and continued to put the emphasis on building the team concept every day.

                      It was easy enough for the players to buy into the system then because they knew Spagnuolo’s impressive resume coming from winning programs in Philadelphia and New York.

                      “I think...
                      -11-04-2009, 11:32 AM
                    • Bralidore(RAMMODE)
                      Rams Learn Lessons for Future
                      by Bralidore(RAMMODE)
                      "For 16 weeks this year, Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo has had a laser-like focus on one thing and one thing only: the next game.
                      That tunnel vision trickled down from Spagnuolo to the rest of the team and any discussion of something beyond the next contest was immediately dismissed upon mention.
                      When Spagnuolo woke up Monday morning, though, he was left with the sobering realization that there won’t be another game to plan for until the start of the 2010 season, months and months away.
                      “I wish we were getting ready to play another game,” Spagnuolo said. “I just want to play another game. When you lose, you crave and you hunger for the next opportunity to win. I talked about this a lot during the year. There’s nothing like being in a locker room of an NFL team after winning just because of everything that goes into it during the week and what the guys do together, just the craving for that feeling. Unfortunately, we will have to wait however many months that is to get that feeling again.”
                      So it is that Spagnuolo and the rest of the Rams have already turned the page on the 2009 season and begun their preparations for the next step. Those steps include preparing for the start of the free agent period, scouting and evaluating college prospects and then making the first selection in the 2010 NFL Draft.
                      But before any of that can happen, the Rams will review what happened in 2009 and glean as many lessons as possible from what happened to improve their performance on the field in 2010.
                      To each man in the Rams’ locker room, those lessons were different but the overlying theme remains the same.
                      “Through all of the adversity we went through, unless I am missing something, the team, there wasn’t anybody jumping ship, pointing fingers, going off the deep end and that is a credit to them,” Spagnuolo said. “To me, that is the biggest thing.”
                      Indeed, through the difficulties that inherently come with a 1-15 season, it would have been easy for any player or coach to go off the reservation and explode be it in the media, on the field or anywhere else.
                      Beyond that, though, even when the chips were down and the Rams were long-since removed from contention for the postseason, the team continued to fight and battle as though it were in the thick of the race for the playoffs.
                      While simply having a good attitude and remaining competitive when it’s tough won’t win you any games it is certainly a big part of the fabric of successful teams.
                      “I learned something about the guys on this team,” defensive end Chris Long said. “We don’t have any quitters. You see it every week on television. You watch teams and things aren’t going well and people quit sometimes. I don’t feel like we quit. We have to get the football ironed out. That’s execution and stuff like that but I don’t fault anybody for their heart or their...
                      -01-04-2010, 07:44 PM
                    • RamDez
                      Spagnuolo Set for First Draft as Head Coach
                      by RamDez
                      Tuesday, April 21, 2009

                      By Nick Wagoner
                      Senior Writer

                      Only days before his first NFL Draft as a head coach, Steve Spagnuolo has been doing a lot of the same thing he has done for most of the time since he was named the leader of the Rams.
                      That means, much like when he was interviewing potential coaches for his staff or looking at free agents, Spagnuolo has been neck deep in meetings. Position by position, Spagnuolo has sat in on every pre-draft meeting with scouts, assistant coaches and general manager Billy Devaney.
                      Like the rest of the offseason, it’s been something of an exercise in tedium.
                      “It’s been a grind but it’s been a wonderful grind,” Spagnuolo said. “That’s the best way to describe it. It is a grind. I have been used to it. I have seen guys go through it and with Andy (Reid) and Tom (Coughlin) they have gone through it. I know how they have done it, the ways they have done it. I have tried to do the same thing because you learn from people who you work with. I am enjoying it. Every day is filled. I can guarantee you that. My poor wife has had to do all of the unpacking of boxes. I haven’t done any of that yet. God bless her, I tell you.”
                      The Rams’ increased emphasis on getting as much input as possible from the scouting staff as well as the coaching staff has made Spagnuolo’s presence as important as anyone’s.
                      Soon after his being named head coach in January, Spagnuolo met with the scouts at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala. Part of that process was intended to help give them an idea of what type of players will fit in to his vision for what the team would be like going forward.
                      General manager Billy Devaney said that process was relatively pain free and the scouting staff was able to adapt quickly to figuring out what type of players would fit the mold of what Spagnuolo was looking for.
                      In truth, there wasn’t a big difference between Spagnuolo’s ideas and what Devaney had already instilled.
                      “It’s been tweaked a little bit, position specifics have been changed a little bit, but again the scouts have done a great job adjusting on the fly,” Devaney said. “Remember, they were out in August, September and October looking at players and evaluating players geared for a certain scheme and different coaches. So, they’ve had to, kind of in their mind when we came in for these meetings go back and when we got into the meetings and started talking about these players, we had to kind of preface by saying, not all the time, but in certain cases. You know what, I liked this guy a couple months ago, but for what we’re talking about right now, this guy’s going to play, we acknowledge that, but he’s not exactly what we’re looking for. So, it’s been a little bit of an adjustment, but again, I think the scouts have done a tremendous job of adjusting it on the fly.”
                      The events of the past few months have also helped Spagnuolo get used to looking at the big picture...
                      -04-22-2009, 12:30 AM
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