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Spagnuolo Sends A Clear Message

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  • Spagnuolo Sends A Clear Message

    Spagnuolo sends a clear message

    Columnist Jeff Gordon

    Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo is definitely NOT fooling around.

    He swept out two more 2006 NFL Draft failures Tuesday. Hapless tight end Joe Klopfenstein was of five players cut and Tye Hill was traded to Atlanta for a draft pick.

    Bam and BAM! Spagnuolo sent a clear message: Everybody has to earn their job here. Hillís first-round draft status didnít help him whatsoever.

    He has struggled since arriving here. Injuries just made things worse. Getting healthier this summer didnít help -Ė and neither did the arrival of his buddy James Butler, the starting safety acquired via free agency.

    His career was summed up by Tony Gonzalezís preseason TD caught against the Rams in Atlanta. Hillís lack of size precluded him from making a play on the ball, but he also turned the wrong way for good measure.

    Even though he struggled during the preseason, Hillís departure was a mild surprise. Sure, Jonathan Wade has earned the starting job with a strong preseason. And í08 preseason standout Justin King has come back nicely from injury.

    Depth at cornerback can be hard to find, but Spagnuolo preferred to go with youngsters instead. Bradley Fletcher, Quincy Butler and Cordell Parks remain on the depth chart as the Rams prepare to face Kansas City in the Governorís Cup game.

    The Klopfenstein exit was less startling. The previous Rams management team believed he could develop into a pass- catching threat.

    He didnít. And since the Klop was never much of a blocker, there was no place for him in the new West Coast-style offense here.

    Randy McMichael, Billy Bajema and Daniel Fells will do the job just fine. The Klop was kept around to help get the team through all those drills in training camp.

    When that task was completed, it was time to move him out and focus on guys who can actually play at the NFL level. The days of propping up high draft picks are over.

    That the Klop was picked 46th overall in 2006 meant nothing to Devaney and Spagnuolo. They werenít here then.

    So Hill and Klopfenstein moved on, joining earlier '06 Draft washouts Claude Wroten, Jon Alston, Dominique Byrd, Marques Hagans, Tim McGarigle and Tony Palmer.

    Has this franchise ever suffered a worse draft year? All that is left from that group is defensive lineman Victor Adeyanju, who is fighting for a depth role, and guard Mark Setterstrom, who is pushing for a starting assignment.

    But, hey, the í06 draft is in the past. The Mike Martz/Jay Zygmunt Era fades deeper into the background. So does the Scott Linehan/Jim Haslett tag team. What is done is done.

    This is a Billy Devaney/Steve Spagnuolo production now and the franchise is clearing out the debris from past failures.

    With change will come some pain as the Rams thrust a lot of inexperienced players into important roles. Should injuries hit this team hard again, many no-name youngsters will be forced to fill gaps.

    Spagnuolo can live with the collective inexperience of his supporting cast. What he canít tolerate is non-productive veterans hanging around based on their reputation.

    The Rams lost 27 games the last two years. One by one, the veterans who played a role in that dramatic downturn are departing Rams Park.

    Guys like defensive tackle Adam Carriker, currently in a job battle with drifter Gary Gibson, understand that Spagnuolo will keep and play the best performers regardless of background.

    Anybody who hasnít embraced that message by now probably wonít survive the next round of cuts next week.

  • #2
    Re: Spagnuolo Sends A Clear Message

    Adam Carriker on the clock ????

    Maineram -


    • #3
      Re: Spagnuolo Sends A Clear Message


      Let's review.

      Someone asks Thomas in his Chat which player could be a surprise cut. Thomas answers by naming Carriker.

      Hours later, Thomas writes an article in which mentions Carriker as a player to watch.

      This means:

      (a) Thomas has reliable inside information that Carriker is on the bubble;
      (b) Thomas is throwing the notion of Carriker being released on the off chance that it might happen (allowing him to then say "you heard it here first").

      Answer: b (duh!)

      Thomas' comments about Carriker are no different than mine about McMichael - pure conjecture (and, in both cases, it is almost certain that both players will be retained).


      • #4
        Re: Spagnuolo Sends A Clear Message

        Don't get me wrong, but if somehow Gibson DOES beat out Carriker, and Carriker either gets knocked down to second string or even cut (highly doubtful) I will be fully supportive of the move. We need the best players at each position on the field. It's time we start playing the players who have the best ability and skill, rather than their draft title.

        Hill was an example, and so was Klop. Now they're both gone. It's about time.


        • #5
          Re: Spagnuolo Sends A Clear Message

          This is a performance business. Guys must earn their spot through solid play and not sentiment. Hill's and Klopfenstein's departures remind us of that.

          Our draft classes, as pointed out here and on another thread, leave a lot to be desired and sewed the seeds of crappy play for the past several years.

          Spagnuolo and company will continue to purge anyone from the roster who does not measure up to their standards of who will help this team now and in the future. That's the way it must be done.