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Spagnuolo seen as Rams' savior

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  • Spagnuolo seen as Rams' savior

    Sports Columnist Bryan Burwell

    Sometimes, the biggest trouble with watching a really bad team labor through a season is figuring out where to train your eyes. Call it visual over-stimulation —the impossible task of zeroing in on one compelling character of stability when chaos is swirling around and scattering conflict, controversy and confusion like a Kansas twister.

    The woebegone Oakland Raiders are definitely that sort of bad team, with an in-way-over-his-head young quarterback who can't complete a pass, an embattled head coach who could be facing criminal assault charges any day now and a formerly great owner who apparently hasn't flipped his own personal football calendar since the late 1970s.

    The slapstick Washington Redskins are that sort of unsightly bad team, with an eccentric young owner who hired a head coach with no visible qualifications to do the job, then spent the past few years doing everything to undermine him, and now can't quite figure out why his expensive NFL toy never works like it should.

    When it comes to distracting swirls of chaotic activity, the one thing you can say about the 0-5 Rams is that despite the NFL's longest current losing streak — 15 and counting — they can at least cling to the belief that they are past the worst of it.

    If you listen to the smart voices around Rams Park, there is a real sense that the eye of the storm has already blown past this place. The players who have been around here long enough to have survived the madness of Mike Martz, the incompetence of Scott Linehan and Jay Zygmunt and the Rome-is-burning fiddling of John Shaw continue to preach that the storm is over and they are knee deep in post-disaster relief.

    And when they tell you this, they all point to one guy as the central figure in their stubborn belief that the worst is over and that the best isn't that far away:

    Steve Spagnuolo.

    These players all believe that Spagnuolo is the guy who keeps the chaos away. This is not delusional happy talk, either. In many instances, the comments come from the voices of veteran players who already have been to the puppet show and seen the strings. They're not easily impressed or often fooled.

    In public and private, they see Spagnuolo setting the tone for an organization fighting to prove to the football world that the Rams don't belong in the same conversation with all those other miserable franchises anymore, even as they keep piling on one more ugly loss to the carnage left behind by the ousted regime.

    Like a metronome — or depending on your level of cynicism, a scratched record — Spagnuolo keeps repeating the same positive message every single day. On Monday, when someone asked him if he ever imagined 10 months ago when he took the job that this monumental task would turn out to be this difficult, he rejected the negative description in typical Spagnuolo fashion.

    "Well, first of all, don't assume that I felt that way, that it was monumental," he said. "I felt really good about coming here because of the people here, the players ... I mentioned this way back that when I would watch film at the end of the season, this team was still playing hard. I think there's something to be said to that and they're doing that now and we'll hang our hat on that. ... You are probably tired of me saying that, but I won't stop saying it and when we win five in a row, it will be the same thing. I just think that's how you do it in the league."

    Based on the current evidence, you might think the man's delusional. He probably would argue that he's a stubborn visionary. But he would do it quietly. Firmly, but without much fanfare. It's not Spagnuolo's style to handle his business in a demonstrative public fashion. He gets after guys, but he doesn't necessarily need a news conference to deliver his message, or any elaborate public confirmation, either.

    When he benched offensive tackle Alex Barron a during the ***** game last week, Spagnuolo barely made a peep about it. But based on how Barron responded Sunday, it clearly lit some sort of spark under the chronically listless lineman. Going against perhaps the best defensive player in the league in Vikings defensive end Jared Allen, Barron played lights out and without any of the miscues that have been typical of his game day experiences.

    And on Monday, Spagnuolo quietly made it quite clear to the team and to second-year wide receiver Donnie Avery that his little "stinky leg" touchdown dance in the fourth quarter with the Rams trailing by 21 points was not going to cut it either. He didn't rant, but the message was delivered clearly enough for everyone in that team meeting room to understand that this is not the way the Rams will do business.

    Too many unsuccessful people in the public eye are paralyzed by the capricious whims of the public. Spagnuolo's not that guy. I still don't know how successful he will be here in St. Louis, but here's what I love about him. His success or failure will be as a result of sticking to his methods, not putting his fingers into the air to see which direction the wind is blowing.

    To be blunt, I don't think Spagnuolo expends an ounce of energy worrying about whether or not the general public can see his vision right now.

    It would be nice, but not essential.

    He's not asking anyone to be prescient, merely patient enough to allow him the time to prove that his methods will work.

  • #2
    Re: Spagnuolo seen as Rams' savior

    I like the article I do believe that Spags can right the ship with time.


    • #3
      Re: Spagnuolo seen as Rams' savior

      best article i have read on spags


      • #4
        Re: Spagnuolo seen as Rams' savior

        In DeSpags I trust. We definitely have the right coach and the right GM in place. Spags will get the turnovers and the penalties under control in due time. Once that happens, we will be on our way back up in the rankings.

        Aside from the turnovers, so many good things were happening for us in the Vikings game that you could just feel that something has "clicked" with this team. They are displaying a quiet confidence and it is starting to show up in their play. It was the difference betwen night and day. In particular, with the offensive line, run blocking and play calling. Boller looked sharper than the last game. When he went down, my confidence with Bulger coming in was much higher than it had been at any time in the last two years. Because I just felt that with the protection the Oline was giving, that with Bulger's accuracy he would have time to move this team even better than Boller did.

        I think next week we will have a breakout game. And I know I'm not the only one around here who feels that way.

        GO RAMS!!!
        Last edited by viper; -10-13-2009, 01:35 PM.


        • #5
          Re: Spagnuolo seen as Rams' savior

          Spags is certainly keeping his cool through a very rough start to the season. It's obvious that he has confidence in his plan and isn't going to waver or panic, despite all the madness right now. What he's done with the defense is nothing short of amazing and his influence on Barron looks to be spreading through the offense. My guess is we see a completely different team against the Jags.


          • #6
            Re: Spagnuolo seen as Rams' savior

            If Spags can just get the penalties (Our offense has the 3rd most in the NFL to date) under control and get our defense to start creating the turnovers we need so badly the wins will come. (Our offense has also lost the most fumbles in the league to date) After the GSOT years I never thought I would say this but..."Our offense is killing us!"

            I have faith in Spags.

            GO RAMS!!!
            sigpic :ram::helmet:


            • #7
              Re: Spagnuolo seen as Rams' savior

              Good read. It is ironic that Coach Spags is indeed considered the Rams savior when he currently is the martyr.

              I too believe he will change this team for the better. Thus the importance / critical need that we keep faith. :helmet:


              • #8
                Re: Spagnuolo seen as Rams' savior

                Yes a calming leadership style and a knowledge of the game--two important traits the Rams need. Just as incouraging is FO giving him the room to manover and support to help and not hinder the progress of getting this team back to being respectable


                • #9
                  Re: Spagnuolo seen as Rams' savior

                  Just having everyone pullling in the same direction is a HUGE improvement over the former regime. No finger pointing, no snide backhanded comments by players, front office, or coaching staff. Hats off to Chip for what he has quietly done so far. We may not have a win yet, but even the pundits who seeminly love to hate the Rams are not dissing Billy D. or Spags. I like our winless team much better than last year's version. Spags is setting the tone, and the team is buying in. When bad stuff happens and a group looks to its leader, calm always prevails over panic. I haven't seen any panic emanating from Spagnolo .. none at all. Don't know when we'll get our first win, but it will come. Until then I'll have to be satisfied with our team showing improvement each game ..


                  • #10
                    Re: Spagnuolo seen as Rams' savior

                    Originally posted by MauiRam View Post
                    I like our winless team much better than last year's version.
                    I wholeheartedly concur with that. This year's losses aren't hurting (me at least) as much as last years, because I see things slowly changing and problems being addressed. A quick fix would be great in the short term, but I'd rather long term foundations be laid and on that score, in Spags I trust.


                    • #11
                      Re: Spagnuolo seen as Rams' savior

                      I agree with all the posts in this thread. Steve Spagnuola is the best to happen to our team in a very long time, at least since Dick Vermiel. I agree with the posts that say we will play our way out of this. Further, I feel we have a FO that knows how to evaluate talent and will find players in the draft to fit our schemes. Good things eventually happen to teams like ours and the NFL is full off stories like this. Hang in there fellow Clanner's, "this too shall pass". I hope we get a nice win the Jax this weekend.

                      Go Rams!


                      Related Topics


                      • r8rh8rmike
                        Burwell: Blame This Loss On Spagnuolo
                        by r8rh8rmike
                        Burwell: Blame this loss on Spagnuolo

                        BY BRYAN BURWELL,
                        Monday, November 28, 2011

                        There have been plenty of times during the course of his struggling run as the Rams' coach that when the smoke cleared on another Sunday afternoon debacle you could always find some thin wisp of promise in Steve Spagnuolo's reclamation project. Sometimes— heck, most of the time — it took a lot of squinting to see the good amidst the disaster of a 10-33 record.

                        But there always has been something this man's focused, relentlessly optimistic, tunnel-vision public approach and his unwavering "My way or the highway" control-freak personality behind the scenes that convinced me Spagnuolo eventually would find a way to fix this mess of a franchise and turn the Rams into championship contenders.

                        That faith was shaken hard Sunday. The results we've been waiting to see — the big turnaround after last year's surprising leap from a 1-15 disaster in 2009 to a 7-9 season that had everyone believing the Rams were on the verge of winning the NFC West title— just have not happened. The Rams are getting worse, not better. With a 23-20 loss to Arizona on Sunday, the Rams are now 2-9 and guaranteed of an eighth consecutive non-winning season.

                        In the midst of all this losing, here's what continues to be so fascinating about Spagnuolo. He does not show any of the normal signs of an embattled head coach. Watch him during and after games. He does not show any of the disturbing body language of a coach on the hot seat. There are no slumped shoulders, no hang-dog expressions, no back-against-the-wall emotional flailing. Spagnuolo did not sound like a coach on the endangered list full of regret and half-baked alibis.

                        Even while the rest of us are screaming at the results of some of his coaching decisions, Spagnuolo conducts himself with the confident air of a man who firmly believes he still is in complete control of his environment.

                        "I think our team is passionate," he said. "I mean the work I see when they go out, I don't think there's a lack of effort. We know we're a little short-handed in some spots. ... But my pride and competitiveness says that no matter what, we've got to find a way to win."

                        But the cold-blooded business of coaching does not reward coaches for their outstanding personality traits or hand out A's for effort. The halls of Canton are full of jerks, reprobates and brow-beating maniacs who have stalked NFL sidelines. This is a bottom-line business and winning is all that matters. What does it mean that his players don't quit? What does it mean that they fight to the bitter end every Sunday? What does it mean that his team is full of real professionals who refuse to use injuries as excuses?

                        It doesn't buy him much more than the opportunity to let the season play out, giving him the full 16 games...
                        -11-28-2011, 01:30 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
                      • RamWraith
                        This time, the coach really has a chance
                        by RamWraith
                        By Bryan Burwell
                        ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
                        Tuesday, Jan. 20 2009
                        Everything looks good at a press conference. In the controlled setting of a
                        crowded auditorium on Monday morning, Steve Spagnuolo stuck out his lantern jaw
                        and calmly declared himself fit for the daunting responsibility of becoming the
                        24th head coach of the Rams.

                        If it was all about first impressions, then Spags nailed this one.

                        He walked up to that podium and said all the right things. He didn't stutter.
                        He didn't sweat. With an earthy New England brogue spicing his well-rehearsed
                        mission statement with plenty of extra vowels, Spagnuolo sounded like a
                        self-assured man who knew that this enormous moment was not too big for him.

                        "To me — and only because I think I have a little confidence in myself — I
                        think this has been a natural progression," the 49-year-old Spagnuolo said when
                        someone asked the question that is on the minds of everyone with a rooting
                        interest in the Rams:

                        How does he know he's ready to succeed as an NFL head coach?

                        A little smile seemed to curl up beneath that thick mustache, and a
                        matter-of-fact answer came out of his mouth. "I (coached) linebackers and
                        (defensive backs), then I progressed to (defensive coordinator) and the next
                        natural progression to me is to have the whole team."

                        Spagnuolo convincingly stated his case that he had arrived at this point not
                        like some anointed golden child being pushed too rapidly through the system,
                        but rather like an earnest craftsman who'd risen from apprenticeship to skilled
                        master artisan all in due time.

                        Spagnuolo talked about the daily lessons learned from his highly successful
                        coaching mentors Tom Coughlin and Andy Reid. He talked about how they carefully
                        prepped him, seasoned him, and then turned him loose only when they knew he was
                        ready to fly under his own power.

                        Now comes the hard part. Prove it.

                        NFL coaching annals are full of gifted assistant coaches whose résumés gave
                        them the appearance of can't-miss head-coaching commodities, but ultimately
                        exposed them as Peter Principle poster children. So there are no guarantees
                        that Spagnuolo will turn out any better than Scott Linehan or Rod Marinelli.

                        However, for the first time in nearly a decade at Rams Park, Spagnuolo at least
                        has a fair chance.

                        On Monday I heard something that I never thought I would hear someone say. A
                        few minutes before the press conference, the man who hired him — general
                        manager Billy Devaney — unraveled the biggest mystery in the history of Rams

                        He told me who was in charge.

                        Ever since I arrived in St. Louis seven years ago, I have asked a...
                        -01-20-2009, 04:30 AM
                      • r8rh8rmike
                        A New Rams PLan
                        by r8rh8rmike
                        A new Rams plan

                        By Jim Thomas
                        ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH

                        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
                      • r8rh8rmike
                        Burwell: Spagnuolo Doesn't Seem Stressed About Job
                        by r8rh8rmike
                        Burwell: Spagnuolo doesn't seem stressed about job

                        BY BRYAN BURWELL, Post-Dispatch Sports Columnist
                        Tuesday, November 29, 2011

                        For all the emotional ups and downs that can happen in the course of a typical NFL season, there's no more potentially tumultuous month on the pro football calendar than December. Most NFL wise guys will tell you that the next four weeks of the regular season can — if you let them — leave you a blubbering basket case or an ascending star. Just take a quick glance at this week's league standings for the basic clues to the emotional state of your favorite football team.

                        December isn't life or death. It's much more important than that, NFL lifers will say, only half jokingly. You're either on an emotional high, jockeying to get into the playoffs, or an emotional wreck scrambling for your professional lives.

                        So at Rams Park on Monday, it was December business as usual. Assured of another losing season, this is a building full of people who know they're fighting for jobs and careers. Players need to get evidence on tape to document that they belong on an NFL roster, not the waiver wire. Coaches know that they're being scrutinized just as hard, maybe even harder. When there hasn't been a winning season around here in eight seasons, everyone already knows what's at stake, and they're just praying that their fates have not already been determined.

                        Yet here's the strangest thing. This still doesn't feel like the typical place under emotional siege. "As frustrating (and) tough as this is," head coach Steve Spagnuolo said, "one of the ways to pull yourself out of a situation like this is be very grateful and thankful for things that you do have. When you do that, when you get inside of yourself, that becomes positive energy, and I think that's what you need ... and that's how you pull yourself out of it."

                        The conversation all over town right now is fueled by an assumption that there's nothing Spagnuolo or anyone else out there can do to save jobs or turn this lost season around into something remotely positive. I'm not so sure of that. While I know owner Stan Kroenke is keeping a very close eye on what's already transpired, I keep hearing the same thing over and over again around the Rams Park corridors. He wants to see what lies ahead before he makes any conclusions about who should stay and who needs to go at season's end. It's not automatic that there will be mass organizational head-chopping.

                        Kroenke's history as a pro sports owner and entrepreneur suggests that he isn't into rash emotional decisions in his business dealings. He's meticulous and patient in every business move he makes. He does not act quickly, but when he strikes, it is decisive. Just because you don't see him out in the open getting TV face time on the sidelines or in his luxury box like a Jerry Jones doesn't mean he isn't...
                        -11-29-2011, 02:48 PM