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It's Early, But Spags Has Shown Potential

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  • It's Early, But Spags Has Shown Potential

    It's early, but Spags has shown potential

    Sports Columnist Bernie Miklasz

    Having learned a few embarrassing lessons along the way, I'm hesitant to hype rookie NFL head coaches. I don't get worked up over what happens in training camp. So I'll hold off on trying to nominate new Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

    Let's see him in a real game. Let's see what happens when the injuries cut into an already thin roster, or when the squad is shaken by the inevitable losing streak. Let's see how the young coach responds if players question him or ignite a controversy. Let's see if he grows rabbit ears or develops overly sensitive skin when there's a feeding frenzy among frustrated fans or media.

    So what do we make of the Rams and Spagnuolo a week before the regular-season opener in Seattle?

    To state the obvious: The roster still has gaping holes, and only time and better judgment will fill them. Spagnuolo and general manager Billy Devaney didn't create this roster; they inherited much of it. And they are turning it over as fast as they can.

    Quality, intelligent leadership eventually will take the Rams higher. So what about Spagnuolo as a leader?

    I haven't seen any signs of panic. Spagnuolo's stability is an attribute considering that three NFL head coaches (Kansas City, Tampa Bay and Buffalo) freaked out last week and fired their offensive coordinators.

    Spagnuolo is demanding but sincere and that earns respect. He's run a peaceful, orderly and businesslike camp. That may not have people rushing to the ticket windows, but this is a welcome change for an organization that was undermined by constant dysfunction. And compared to some other rookie coaches around the NFL who are yapping a lot or trying to project some tough-guy persona, Spagnuolo seems comfortable with who he is. He doesn't seem to feel a need to put on a show, or to draw attention to himself. I don't see Spagnuolo firing ego bullets in some misplaced display of authority.

    Here's the most important thing: Spagnuolo has gotten the players to embrace his approach. So far — and I repeat, more severe challenges are coming — Spagnuolo is receiving the necessary commitment from his players. That was a constant (and failed) struggle for Scott Linehan, the previous rookie head coach brought in by the old regime at Rams Park.

    Spagnuolo is connecting.

    "I think we've got a bunch of hungry guys," Spagnuolo said. "I think it's good to be hungry. It's a hungry football team that wants to be a team. We've talked a lot about it and I think the guys have embraced it. At least their actions and the attitudes and what comes out verbally says that to me. So if we can rally around that, that would be good."

    That's why Spagnuolo thanked the squad in the team meeting the evening before they faced Kansas City in the final preseason game. He asked a lot of them in a physical camp, and they gave him what he wanted. That's where leadership begins: getting players to play for you.

    "That means a great deal," Spagnuolo said. "I thanked them the other night. The night before the game for what they did. Back in offseason program, right through training camp, it was a new training camp. It was a different hotel and we're here. New staff, new this or that, and they didn't skip a beat. They really bought in to it."

    Friday at Rams Park, Spagnuolo took the time to express gratitude to his staff. They will be vital to his success, or failure.

    "It all starts with a good staff," he said. "I think it's a staff of character — that is how we built it and I think it is a cohesive staff. I think that is important. I think the players feel that. (If) we're all together on the same page, it permeates into the locker room."

    And yet Spagnuolo has the awareness to realize that this means little unless he can maintain that loyalty over the next 16 games.

    "I'm perfectly aware that all of this is a honeymoon period," Spagnuolo said. "That's not lost on me. The real challenge is upcoming. It will be here before you know it. No team goes through 16 games without some adversity."

    Miracle fixes?

    Bold promises?

    Not this coach.

    Spagnuolo is old-fashioned in a way. He's all about energy and enthusiasm and being earnest. In terms of personal style, think of a young Dick Vermeil. Spagnuolo knows it's going to take a lot of hard work to turn the Rams around. And that's what this coach is all about: rolling up his sleeves and getting to work, and convincing his players to join the effort. I don't know what's ahead, but this is a good place to start.

  • #2
    Re: It's Early, But Spags Has Shown Potential

    It seems that everything I see, read, or hear about Spags gives me confidence he can right this ship.

    It will be a process, to be sure, but I am tired of the prognosticators giving automatic wins to teams the Rams play any given week. I even read where one said the Rams are worse than the Lions. OUCH!

    So here's to guarded optimism and a return to Rams Glory! :helmet:

    GO RAMS!!


    • #3
      Re: It's Early, But Spags Has Shown Potential

      Originally posted by ramsanddodgers View Post
      It seems that everything I see, read, or hear about Spags gives me confidence he can right this ship.

      It will be a process, to be sure, but I am tired of the prognosticators giving automatic wins to teams the Rams play any given week. I even read where one said the Rams are worse than the Lions. OUCH!

      So here's to guarded optimism and a return to Rams Glory! :helmet:
      I'm too, "tired of the prognosticators" and I also have confidence that Spags can turn this ship in the right direct, sooner than later.

      I bet Spags will want to come out and PUNCH the SeaChickens in the mouth, right off the bat! I feel he's the type of Coach that'll send the message....NO MORE BS! Look for Spags to drastically change the Rams image. (NO MORE PUSHOVERS)

      CONGRATULATIONS ramsanddodgers on 1,900 POSTS! KEEP IT GOING! :king:


      • #4
        Re: It's Early, But Spags Has Shown Potential

        I think the article is spot on. The early returns on Spagnuolo are promising, as he's run a tough, physical camp and has guys believing in a system and sharing his vision. Gone is some of the dead weight from last year and a lot of the malaise that infected Rams Park and the franchise in 2008. The old saying says that "A fish stinks from the head down", and no where was this better illustrated than in the Rams organization the past several seasons. Front office strife and ineffective leadership from the head coach were big reasons for the weekly circus we suffered through each Sunday.

        Like all head coaches, he will be judged on the record. But for now, it's about playing respectably, being competitive and building a winner. That starts by establishing expectations and accountability. The Rams have some obvious holes, but recent history tells us that this team doesn't have to be down for long.

        I've said it multiple times previously; I sincerely believe that Billy Devaney and Steve Spagnuolo are the right guys to orchestrate this turnaround and return the Rams to glory.


        • #5
          Re: It's Early, But Spags Has Shown Potential

          I think its telling that a lot of the veterans on the roster that were bought in to help us "win now" by the Linehan regime have gone to be replaced by players with a lot of upside

          The Rams are now filled with young players with a lot of potential. This is clearly a build for the future. The lucky thing for Spags and Devaney is that they arent trying to rebuild things in a team that won 6 or 7 games last year. The Rams won only two games last year. If the Rams improve on that win total, then brilliant. If they dont, its not a huge deal because its a rebuilding year.

          I hope Rams fans understand that. Spags should not be put under pressure because the team is failing to win this upcoming season. He is doing his best to turn this team around, but its going to take more than one offseason.


          • #6
            Re: It's Early, But Spags Has Shown Potential

            I think the Atogwe story says a lot about what Devaney,Spags, and Demoff have accomplished already.No holdouts,no scandals, no jawbreaking...

            Even as honeymoons go, it's been pretty exciting and yet trauma-free.

            Spags may well have the charisma of a young Vermeil but I have to say I think he's more prepared than DV was in Philly & perhaps even at the start here. Not so mercurial nor such a control freak.

            Bodes well for the tough times;he seems to have an even keel and the ability to share the load. Delegation is teamwork,right? All about trust and mutual responsibility.The man practices what he preaches. Gotta like that.

            And then there's the technical savvy. Nice to have the very real possibility that teams will be watching the Rams defense for the latest innovations over the next few years.

            I really thought Leslie Frazier was going to get the job & I still think he would have been good. But there's no one else among the available options except maybe Cowher-never a real option,anyway-that I think could have done as good a job so far.


            Related Topics


            • MauiRam
              "'You've got to tell me everything now,'" .. Said Flajole to Spags ..
              by MauiRam
              Stull's staff at Mizzou went places

              BY Jim Thomas

              When the Rams hired Ken Flajole as defensive coordinator, no one outside of the Flajole family was happier about it than Bob Stull. "I've known him forever," Stull said. "My wife talks to his wife every Monday and gabs. He's a real hard-working guy, a really detailed guy. He's done a nice job wherever he's been."

              Nearly 20 years ago, when Stull was struggling along with a 15-38-2 record as head coach at the University of Missouri, who knew that his staff would become a cradle of NFL coaches? Flajole becomes the fourth member of Stull's Mizzou staff (1989-93) currently working in the NFL as a coordinator, joining Marty Mornhinweg (Philadelphia), Dirk Koetter (Jacksonville), and Dave Toub (Chicago). Mornhinweg and Koetter are offensive coordinators; Toub is special teams coordinator with the Bears.

              Mornhinweg also had a two-year stint as head coach of the Detroit Lions. Of course, the most famous alumnus of Stull's Missouri staff is Andy Reid, a two-time NFL coach of the year with a 107-68-1 record over 10 seasons for Philadelphia.

              "It was a great group," Stull said. "I think when we first arrived there, people questioned who are these young guys? Where'd they come from?"

              Now look at what they've become. So it's a nice story to be sure. But in a recent interview with the Post-Dispatch, Stull added a fascinating new twist to the tale.

              Guess who was a frequent visitor to the Mizzou campus during Stull's five-season tenure as Tigers coach?

              None other than current Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo.

              "I'll tell you the history of Spags," Stull said.

              Here it is:

              One of Spagnuolo's very good friends in the coaching business was Steve Telander; they had coached together at Massachusetts in the early 1980s. When Telander subsequently joined Stull's staff at Texas-El Paso, Spagnuolo made frequent trips to UTEP for coaching clinics, spring football, etc. When Stull took his entire UTEP staff with him to Mizzou in 1989, Spagnuolo continued such treks to Columbia.

              "That's where he met Andy Reid and Flajole and Dirk and all those guys," said Stull, now the athletic director at UTEP. "He'd spend three or four days 'clinic-ing' with all those guys. He used to come down all the time to visit with us."

              As an ambitious young coach trying to work his way up the ladder, Spagnuolo figured the more knowledge he could soak up the better.

              "There were a number of times I'd go out there when I was coaching at Lafayette College in Pennsylvania and then I was at the University of Connecticut," Spagnuolo said. "And you go to the UTEPs and the Missouris just to get football knowledge. That was really...
              -04-12-2009, 02:41 AM
            • MauiRam
              Bernie: Spagnuolo ready to tackle season ..
              by MauiRam
              By Bernie Miklasz Thursday, September 9, 2010 12:35 am

              Steve Spagnuolo is absolutely, positively ready for his second season as the Rams' head coach.

              We know this because he's sleeping in the bathroom again.

              Umm ... the bathroom?

              Yes, it's tucked in the back of his office on the second floor at Rams Park. The bathroom has the usual amenities, including a shower, a lavatory and toiletries. But last season Spagnuolo added a single bed.

              And when the coach stays up late at the office, reviewing video, he tries to sleep in the bathroom for a few hours to save time and make a quick pivot back to work in the morning.

              Not that a 1-15 rookie coach can sleep peacefully. When I asked Spagnuolo what it was like to go 1-15 last season as a rookie coach, he laughed and pointed to the bathroom. "You see that small little room? I spent some time back there," he said.

              Probably getting sick to his stomach from the pain and anguish of losing. Or perhaps it was his refuge. Spagnuolo would close the door and try to sort everything out in his mind.

              Emotionally and mentally, Spagnuolo absorbed quite a beating last season. His relentlessly upbeat nature was tested as never before. He won a single game. In the 15 losses, his team was outscored 426-148. Some of his friends wondered if Spagnuolo had made a career-smothering mistake by leaving his post as the New York Giants' successful defensive coordinator to take on such a thankless, hopeless job.

              "I don't think this way," Spagnuolo said. "I don't know about people saying that it might kill my career, because I simply don't think that way, go through life that way. I've always had to do things this way."

              Spagnuolo smiled, noted his diminutive stature and added, "At 5-8, and always having to overcome things, it's never been easy for me. I wouldn't know how to go into a situation where it was easy. I only know about starting from a tough situation and working from there. Maybe I function better that way. It hasn't been easy. It's been trying. Have I even wavered at times? Sure, I'm human. But I've never let it last long."

              It explains why Spagnuolo became a buzzsaw center on his high school ice hockey team at Grafton, Mass. He was an aggressive pest who would torment taller and more skilled opponents. He played second base on the state championship baseball team. He was a quarterback who ran the wishbone offense. Go ahead. Try to knock him down.

              This resolve carried Spagnuolo through coaching stops that took him around the world over a 27-year period before he became the Rams' coach. The odyssey took him to three countries, six colleges and four professional teams in small towns and big cities.

              When asked why he hired the largely unknown Spagnuolo as defensive coordinator, Giants coach...
              -09-09-2010, 01:48 AM
            • NJ Ramsfan1
              Head Coach Steve Spagnuolo- disturbing
              by NJ Ramsfan1
              "I'm not mad at the team"
              "I have no explanation for it. I wish I did"

              These are two quotes from Steve Spagnuolo in a couple of the STL Today articles in today's paper. The more I read, the more I see quotes like this from him. If this is a sampling of Coach Spags true assessment, then we're in a helluva lot of trouble. And I question whether he's the guy to bring us back to being a good team.

              I understand it is counterproductive to just fly off at the handle. But if you're not mad at the team following yesterday's disgraceful debacle, something is seriously wrong. And if you can't explain WHY this team has strung together three consecutive poor performances- each one worst than the last- then HOW do you expect to fix it?

              These coaches and players should be confined to the facility until they find some answers.
              -09-26-2011, 04:34 AM
            • MauiRam
              SpagnoloTaking Rams by the horns .. Boston Globe.
              by MauiRam
              Spagnuolo primed for first head coaching job
              By Mike Reiss
              June 28, 2009
              To some New Englanders, Steve Spagnuolo is known as the mastermind behind the defensive plan that derailed the Patriots’ hopes for a perfect season in Super Bowl XLII. But for long-timers in the region, he is much more than that. To them, Spagnuolo is the local guy who hit it big, doing it the right way. He’s the coach who grew up in Whitinsville, attended public high school in Grafton, attended Springfield College, earned his master’s degree in sports management from UMass-Amherst, then diligently worked his way up the coaching ranks - in college and the pros, in the United States and Europe - before landing one of the most coveted jobs in football: NFL head coach.

              Spagnuolo was hired to lead the St. Louis Rams in January, and true to the three-decade process he followed to land his first head coaching gig, he arrived with a plan.

              On the lookout for hungry players, he first watched the last 4-5 games of the 2008 season, when the Rams were already eliminated from playoff contention.

              “Even though they had struggled to a 2-14 season,’’ said Spagnuolo, “I saw a team that continued to play hard in all of those games, and that’s a credit to the staff that was here before and also a reflection of the players that are here. I feel like if you at least have that, and can do some of the right things in building around that, then you have a chance.’’

              Spagnuolo, 49, has already proven that unexpected things can happen when the right ingredients come together, for few had given the Giants a chance in that Super Bowl.

              But thanks to a magnificent defensive effort that pounded Tom Brady, and coaching wrinkles such as using ferocious end Justin Tuck in a two-point stance next to the nose tackle, the rush-minded Giants pulled off the shocker. It’s a performance most often associated with Spagnuolo’s name - he was in his first season as defensive coordinator - and one that put him on the fast track to becoming a head coach.

              To Spagnuolo’s credit, however, he has deflected the praise.

              In an era when coaches often receive more acclaim - and blame - than they deserve, Spagnuolo has maintained the victory was “about the players.’’

              “We had a bunch of guys on that day that decided they weren’t going to be denied,’’ he said. “I was just blessed to be a part of it.’’

              Now the challenge is finding a similar formula in St. Louis.

              “We’d like to have a bunch of guys that are physical and aggressive and that play with a lot of character,’’ he said. “I believe you can do that. I believe you can be a class group of football players and still go out and be nasty on the field and play physical and play tough.’’

              Key questions facing the Rams: Can quarterback Marc Bulger rebound? Can a reconstructed offensive line...
              -06-28-2009, 01:32 PM
            • HUbison
              Expect a tougher Rams team
              by HUbison
              Expect a tougher Rams team
              By Roger Hensley

              QUESTION: Now that St. Louis Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo has his coaching staff in place, looking over all the hires what kind of personality do you expect the Rams to have in coming years?

              JIM THOMAS
              There’s no doubt that teams reflect the personality of their head coach. In Steve Spagnuolo, the Rams have an intense, high-energy, driven personality. As for the rest of the staff, it’s way too early to tell. As is the case with a bunch of new players, when you have 20 new coaches assembled together for the first time, it takes a while to jell.

              BERNIE MIKLASZ
              In some respects, the assistants are irrelevant. Don’t get me wrong; they can have a lot of impact. Just look at what offensive coordinator Mike Martz did for the 1999 Rams, and what defensive coordinator Lovie Smith did for the 2001 Rams. But if the head coach is a dud, or overwhelmed, he can have the greatest assistants in the NFL and it won’t matter much. Not only do head coaches lead players, but they lead the other coaches, too. They set the example, the tone, the direction. They put a philosophy in place and the assistants coach accordingly. On the surface it appears that Spagnuolo has done a fine job in assembling his first staff; in particular I hear wonderful things about offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur. And that’s important, because I fully expect Spagnuolo to have a major hand in running his own defense. But the best thing Spagnuolo can do is emerge as a strong leader who gives this team — and his coaches — a winning personality.

              BRYAN BURWELL
              While offensively Spags says he won’t put labels on it, Marc Bulger tells me it clearly is the West Coast offense. It’s the same offense he ran during the 2007 pro bowl working with Pat Shurmur and the Eagles staff. Defensively, it will be an aggressive defense with bigger players and, ultimately, it will be a pressure-the-quarterback reliant attack that Spags made so successful in New York.

              JEFF GORDON
              The head coach is all business, so long-suffering Rams fans can only hope the team — and the whole organization — takes the same persona. Spagnuolo is not theatrical, like a Jon Gruden. He is not a lump, either, like Scott Linehan. Spagnuolo looks like he will keep things simple and work very hard. As this point, with the Rams going back to square one, that is the approach everybody at Rams Park should take.

              KATHLEEN NELSON
              Given the Rams’ stated chain of command, the team personality will reflect the personality of Spagnuolo and Billy Devaney more than the assistants. Those two have been front and center and will stay that way. The personalities of assistants tend to mesh, not clash, with the head coach. Which just reinforces that the team is a reflection of Devaney and Spagnuolo, as opposed to assistant coaches.

              KEVIN WHEELER (Host of “Sports Open...
              -02-12-2009, 09:11 AM