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It's unfair to grade Spagnuolo in Year No. 1

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  • It's unfair to grade Spagnuolo in Year No. 1

    It's unfair to grade Spagnuolo in Year No. 1

    Sports Columnist Bernie Miklasz

    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    10/31/2009

    I have no plans to nominate Steve Spagnuolo for the NFL Coach of the Year award, and while I've been disappointed in some of his game-day decisions, it's too early to know the kind of head coach he'll become. At least for now, I believe Spagnuolo's steady leadership and unflappable personality are a plus in a horrible situation.

    Outside of Oakland, which is hopelessly dysfunctional, the Rams' head coaching job is the most thankless in the NFL right now. The coach who took the Rams gig had to be willing to tear down the roster, suffer through beatdowns, endure criticism from media and fans, and remain calm while patiently building a team in a slow, difficult process.

    So that's why I respect Spagnuolo, so far. He isn't a carnival barker. He's a case worker. Gimmicks and hollering won't solve the issues at Rams Park. We can't have a reasonable discussion about Spagnuolo's pluses and minuses until the Rams begin restoring their talent base.

    With the Rams heading to Detroit to play the Lions, it's a good time to ponder the depth of the massive project handed to Spagnuolo. And we'll see one of the prime culprits on Sunday: Lions offensive coordinator Scott Linehan, the former Rams head coach.
    Linehan and his football partner Jay Zygmunt all but destroyed the Rams' roster in a short time. Linehan took over a pretty decent roster in 2006 and got the Rams off to a 4-1 start. But Linehan somehow lost seven of the final 11 games in '06 even though Marc Bulger and Steven Jackson were having career years, even though Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt had 1,000-yard receiving seasons, and even though the Rams defense had 34 sacks and 32 takeaways.

    From there, things rapidly deteriorated because of horrendous personnel decisions. Linehan had substantial power over the draft and free agency. He wanted Drew Bennett at wide receiver instead of Kevin Curtis. So the Rams threw away $30 million on Bennett the most notable of several free-agent failures.

    Of the 11 players chosen by Linehan and Zygmunt in the first three rounds of the 2006-08 drafts, six are already gone, and another (Adam Carriker) is a bust on injured reserve. Several are still here. Chris Long has been a serviceable defensive end, cornerback Jonathan Wade and offensive lineman John Greco don't start, and wide receiver Donnie Avery has exciting potential but can't stay healthy.

    Billy Devaney, now the Rams' GM, was brought in after the 2007 season to help in personnel but didn't have final say over the 2008 draft. But it's at least fair to say Devaney shares some of the responsibility for the 2008 draft class.

    If the right 11 players had been picked in those premium rounds from 2006-08, the Rams would have a fine nucleus to build around. They don't. What they have are too many roster holes and a salary-cap predicament. And Spagnuolo didn't create them.



    Linehan went 7-24 in his final 31 games as head coach. At least he had a fighting chance in 2006. The roster that Linehan inherited from Mike Martz was in much better shape than the roster that Linehan left for Spagnuolo.

    You'd have to be loony-tunes if you honestly believe any coach could, in less than a year, step in and repair the devastating amount of damage caused by Linehan and Zygmunt.

    We'll be able to fairly evaluate Spagnuolo at some point, but it's too soon. After the brief Linehan era, Spagnuolo is still in the process of trying to fumigate and disinfect Rams Park.
    :ramlogo:

  • #2
    Re: It's unfair to grade Spagnuolo in Year No. 1

    I agree that it's too soon to fairly evaluate Spagnuolo at this time, but I'm just concerned that we haven't seen much of a change in attitude with this team. For example, I would think Spagnuolo would have this team playing a little better than they played last year. I look at how Mike Singletary changed things around with the Whiners with talent I wouldn't rate too much above that of the Rams. In fact, I'd take Bulger and Jackson over Gore and the QB committee of Hill and Smith any day of the week. I'm NOT comparing the Rams to the Whiners by any means, but I think Spagnuolo could do a better job preparing this team to play every Sunday while eliminating the losing attitude.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: It's unfair to grade Spagnuolo in Year No. 1

      Honestly i disagree guys sorry.

      This is obviously a tough job for any coach taking over for linehan. But i hate when people use these stupid excuses. I dont think it's too early to grade Spags. However i do think it is too early to label him a "bad" head coach.

      Why can't we give Spags an initial grade? I would give him a "D" i mean we havnt seen results in the record or the scoreboard. But i do see improvements in the team's fight because they fight till the end. And i dont see any of our player calling Spags (Larry Johnson). Or any former player calling out a current player (jeff garcia- jamarcus Russel).

      But we horrible lost 3 games. 28-0 (@ seattle), 35-0 (@ SF), 42-10 (vs. Det). And it's all about accountability. The way spags leads that locker room no player points fingers so spags should take responsibly and be held accountable for it.

      Remember "Grades" can always change so im hoping my "D" grade becomes better come January.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: It's unfair to grade Spagnuolo in Year No. 1

        Originally posted by BarronWade View Post
        Honestly i disagree guys sorry.

        This is obviously a tough job for any coach taking over for linehan. But i hate when people use these stupid excuses. I dont think it's too early to grade Spags. However i do think it is too early to label him a "bad" head coach.

        Why can't we give Spags an initial grade? I would give him a "D" i mean we havnt seen results in the record or the scoreboard. But i do see improvements in the team's fight because they fight till the end. And i dont see any of our player calling Spags (Larry Johnson). Or any former player calling out a current player (jeff garcia- jamarcus Russel).

        But we horrible lost 3 games. 28-0 (@ seattle), 35-0 (@ SF), 42-10 (vs. Det). And it's all about accountability. The way spags leads that locker room no player points fingers so spags should take responsibly and be held accountable for it.

        Remember "Grades" can always change so im hoping my "D" grade becomes better come January.
        i agree that he can be graded to this point,I think he was handed the keys to a car that is a little big harder to drive than a normal car,I have said this before but asking a first time head coach to rebuild this mess could be asking to much of him, a very good def coordinator with talented players does not always turn into a very good head coach. I guess time will tell

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: It's unfair to grade Spagnuolo in Year No. 1

          I agree. You cannot really grade Spagnuolo yet. He inherited a colossal screwup.

          But there have been some worrying developments that I don't like both in terms of personnel (giving away Witherspoon, cutting Pace, cutting Draft, not getting a legitimate new QB prospect to start developing etc.) and game-day decisions (not activating Adeyanju) & playcalling (let's go with a draw on 3rd & 10 again, let's give Jackson 3 carries in a whole quarter when the game is still close etc.). So I'm starting to be more doubtful that we're going in the right direction than I was at the beginning and it doesn't even have all that much to do with our abysmal record - though I believe poor decisions to some extent have contributed to it.

          There is no question Spags gets a 2nd year, but next year at the half-way point we better not be having this exact same conversation and the same record. Or else that amount of goodwill a new coach usually gets is going to be depleted shortly.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: It's unfair to grade Spagnuolo in Year No. 1

            this season has been about wiping the canvas clean but seeing what little bits can be left on the canvas before Spags starts painting..
            the picture that was on the canvas that Spags inherited was very ugly..including the parts that some had grown fond of because they were prettier in years gone by when first laid on the canvas.
            they needed to be removed so that Spags could in future years have space to lay down all parts on the canvas that he desires.

            to say Spoon etc..should have stayed.. is like telling Rembrandt he should have painted a Cherokee Indian on The Abduction of Europa painting...some things just dont fit.

            plus you forgetting the Salary cap....

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: It's unfair to grade Spagnuolo in Year No. 1

              If i were to grade him now, i would have to take into account the terrible talent level of this roster, and the fact the Rams came close to winning in games against the Redskins and Jaguars. That, combined with the fact that we have suffered a lot of injuries, and i would have to give Spags a pretty decent grade. Probably like a B or so. I think it would be unfair to give him lower than a C anyway all things considered.
              @EssexRam_

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: It's unfair to grade Spagnuolo in Year No. 1

                Here are some grades for Spags...


                A+ - For leaving a Superbowl caliber winning team to take over this shipwreck. I seriously doubt the list was long.

                A - For making the tough but necessary monetary decisions to give this team a chance at building a strong foundation. I loved Pace, we all loved Pace but you just aren't living in a realistic world if you think we could have kept him or Holt and still have signed our draft class.

                B - For the draft. JL almost by himself makes this an A but because of injury I haven't seen enough of Smith to raise it up. Full disclosure I usually only look at the 1st two rounds for this... everything else is to much of a crap shoot.

                A - When faced with injury after injury after injury he has never whined, given up or pointed fingers.

                A - The way he has handled himself and his job through all of this.

                C - For our record. I would have hoped for a couple of wins by now but can't go any lower for all of the stuff he has had to deal with.


                Overall Grade = A -

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: It's unfair to grade Spagnuolo in Year No. 1

                  Originally posted by Ramblin` Ram View Post
                  to say Spoon etc..should have stayed.. is like telling Rembrandt he should have painted a Cherokee Indian on The Abduction of Europa painting...some things just dont fit.

                  I am giving you rep for bringing a little bit of sophistication to the board.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: It's unfair to grade Spagnuolo in Year No. 1

                    why thankee sir..

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: It's unfair to grade Spagnuolo in Year No. 1

                      Jimmy Johnson won 1 game his first season with the Cowboys. Andy Reid won 5 games in his first season with the Eagles. He has the full support of the team and it looks like the Rams are headed in the right direction. You certainly can't judge a coach by his success in his first season.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: It's unfair to grade Spagnuolo in Year No. 1

                        OH yes you can Grade Spagnuolo, but not so much on win/loss record.

                        The Rams are indeed a mess and with notable exceptions are deficient in talant and full of under achievers on the roaster.

                        With 8 weeks gone there are two games where Spag rates a (D-/F+)(Seahawks & Frisco games). With Redskins & Jags, Spag earns a comfortable C. The ViKings game would be a (I)--incomplete since the Rams ought to have scored 21 more points. He earns (A-/B+) verse the Packers. For 1/3 of the Grade at this mid-term that is a (D).

                        The other 1/3 is effort, the Rams are still fighting and not rolling over (A).

                        The other 1/3 of his grade was the off season...those player he acquired, those he cut, those he drafted. Along with that its how he has motivated and got up to professional caliber style of play. Spag earns (C-). But thats a hard earned (C-) considering all the needs the Rams had at all phases of the game--to be far a (B) or and (A) would have been a miricel to have earned.

                        Total Grade at Mid-term (C-)

                        If there is a slight I have to say about Spag is the scheming of the offense. It strikes me that he is trying to Smash a round peg in a square hole. I see what he wants the Rams to be able to do, but see that the Rams don't have the personal to accomphish his dreams. All great coaches in the pass have found success one of two ways:

                        Building from within to fit a system--long and laborious with but once build is a halmark of the NFL.
                        Or work with what you do have and adapt a plan that uses it.

                        Spag is of the former mind set then the later. If he is successeful, the Rams can look forward to a long reign of dominence.

                        Still in a total rebuild its the 3rd year that reall counts. The second year however has to show a complete turn around in improvement to know if the Rams are on a path to excellence.

                        Comment

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