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Madison Embraces Mentor Role

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  • Bralidore(RAMMODE)
    Guest replied
    Re: Madison Embraces Mentor Role

    I believe he is just in for OTA's and a bit of training camp. Kind of floating around it seems. Came in as a favor to Spags from the article.

    Leave a comment:

  • RockinRam
    Re: Madison Embraces Mentor Role

    So he is just helping out our CB's?

    Are we hiring him to be the position coach?

    Leave a comment:

  • MauiRam
    started a topic Madison Embraces Mentor Role

    Madison Embraces Mentor Role

    By Nick Wagoner
    Senior Writer

    After playing in no less than 12 games in each of his first 11 NFL seasons, it would have been easy for Sam Madison to step away from football in 2008.

    Upon suffering a broken ankle just seven games into his third season with the New York Giants, Madison could have simply gone home to Florida. And nobody would have blamed him.

    But those who know Madison know better than to assume he would ever do anything that would take him away from the game he loves.

    Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo was the Giants defensive coordinator at the time and it was during that season that Spagnuolo saw all the makings of a player who is probably destined to become a coach should he so choose.

    “Most guys that are hurt, they get on the sideline and watch the game,” Spagnuolo said. “They become a spectator; they talk with their teammates a little bit. Here’s Sam and he had a steno pad on the sideline. I didn’t even know he was doing it. And he would watch our defense out there and he’d take notes. And when the series was over, he would go over and sit in between the corners and tell them what he was seeing. I walked over to coach the guys and I turned around and walked away. I figure he would do it better than I was so I just let him do it. I have never forgotten that.”

    With that memory still as vivid as can be, Spagnuolo recently placed a call to Madison to ask him to come to St. Louis to help the team’s cadre of young cornerbacks.

    For the better part of the past decade, Madison carried a reputation as one of the league’s most dominant shutdown cornerbacks.

    When coaches like Spagnuolo and general managers like the Rams’ Billy Devaney use the term “scheme fit” to describe a player, it means that player possesses the skills that can best be utilized in a particular offense or defense.

    If ever there was a match made in scheme fit heaven, it was Spagnuolo’s press coverage heavy defense and the relentlessly feisty Madison.

    “I always knew that he was the kind of guy when he played, he was coaching,” Spagnuolo said. “He helped those young guys. I loved having the guy around, I love his energy, I love what he’s all about. He loves football. I just felt like if he could come up here and kind of mingle in with our secondary, I just felt there was value to that. He fits in anything that has to do with football.”

    Miami used a second-round pick on Madison in the 1997 NFL Draft and soon after he became the Dolphins’ top cornerback. In the next nine seasons, Madison, along with bookend corner Patrick Surtain, formed one of the league’s most dynamic cornerback tandems.

    Rams cornerback Ron Bartell remembers watching Madison and taking notes of his approach to the game.

    “He was so feisty and he was great in bump and run coverage,” Bartell said. “He never gave a receiver a free release. Him and Patrick Surtain in Miami, they were one of the best cornerback duos this league has seen.”

    When Madison signed with New York in 2006, Spagnuolo was still working in Philadelphia. After one year with the Giants working in a defense a bit more unfamiliar to him, Spagnuolo was hired as New York’s defensive coordinator.

    It was a perfect fit from the first day Spagnuolo installed his defense and philosophy.

    “When he came to New York, it was an opportunity for me to do the things I was doing for nine years in Miami and that’s play press technique,” Madison said.

    Madison was the driving force in the Giants secondary, coming up with four interceptions (tied for a team high) and a team-leading 15 passes defended.

    Madison’s reward for his contributions? A Super Bowl ring that added the final piece to a career puzzle that saw him go to four consecutive Pro Bowls and named first team All Pro twice.

    In 2008, Madison suffered the ankle injury that limited him to just seven games. For as long as he could remember, Madison had tried his best to set an example for his younger teammates but it was in that season that he fully embraced the role.

    “It kind of played right into my hands and I was able to pick up his scheme very well because it was something that was natural,” Madison said. “Not only was I able to implement his defense, I was able to coach some young guys up on it as well.”

    Beyond the Super Bowl ring, Madison had also made a lifelong friend in the form of Spagnuolo. The ankle injury kept Madison out of football last year but it didn’t mean he was completely disconnected.

    “He always kept me in mind and I always stayed in touch with him last year,” Madison said. “When he called me, I told him I hoped I could take a little bit of pressure off of him and be able to work with the defensive backs.”

    During his year away, Madison wasn’t exactly resting on his laurels. He began a training facility in Fort Lauderdale with Surtain, Brian Walker and others to help teach young defensive backs. There, Madison worked with everyone from youngsters to college players.

    When he wasn’t helping a young player improve his game, Madison was rehabilitating his ankle injury, an injury he didn’t want to hurry back from for fear that he might hamper his long term health.

    When the phone rang again with Spagnuolo on the other end, Madison says there wasn’t much that would keep him from coming to help out the guy he says he loves like a brother.

    “Just being around the game and being around the guys, it’s something that I really like and it keeps my head into it,” Madison said. “When Coach Spags asked me to come up and help these guys, I dropped whatever I had to do and got up here to help out as much as I can.”

    Madison jumped right into the mix at the first Organized Team Activity on Tuesday. He gave technique pointers on everything from footwork to hand placement and went over film with some of the players.

    In his playing career, Madison has long been known for his swagger and approach to the game. And while Madison admits he always has had fun while playing, he says one lesson he tries to get through to young corners is that it’s much easier to play with confidence and swagger when you are secure in your technique.

    “The one thing about it is you have to believe in your technique and your teammates,” Madison said. “It wasn’t just Sam Madison going out there and doing everything by himself. If you can play within the scheme of the defense and go out there and make plays and use your technique, that’s fine. After that, it’s all about being feisty and understanding the defense and being in the right place at the right time. You have to have a short memory because you are going to give up some plays but if you can win the majority of the plays, you will be a very successful corner in this league.”

    There’s no doubting Madison’s theory considering that he’s got the resume of a very successful NFL corner.

    In his 12 NFL seasons, the 36-year old Madison has racked up 433 tackles, 38 interceptions, 145 passes defended, nine forced fumbles and six fumble recoveries.

    That extensive knowledge of the game has already made Madison a hit amongst the Rams’ impressionable corners.

    “It’s great just to have a guy who is a four time Pro Bowler who has played in this system and who has done a lot of things and just be able to pick his brain,” Bartell said. “I know it’s just been great for me, personally.”

    As for a future in coaching, it’s not necessarily at the front of Madison’s mind even as he embarks on what amounts to a glorified coaching internship with the Rams. He will return to St. Louis in a couple of weeks for the more OTAs and the team’s final minicamp if for no other reason than to get his hands on some homemade desserts courtesy of Maria Spagnuolo.

    “That’s one of the things I was trying to get in but she went away for the weekend so I’ll have to come back to get some,” Madison said, laughing.

    In the meantime, Madison has made it a point to exchange cell phone numbers with some of the players so that he can remain in touch until he returns.

    Madison says he’d like to continue playing and says he’s back to 100 percent healthy for the first time since the ankle injury.

    If that doesn’t work out, Madison has plenty to keep him busy back in Florida with wife Saskia, son Kellen, daughter Kennedy and another child due in September.

    Still, for a player with the competitive drive and spirit that Madison has, it’s going to be nearly impossible to keep him away from the game he loves, one way or another.

    “Coaching is something I like doing,” Madison said. “Who knows? Anything can happen. If you keep your mind on it and keep working into that area, it might eventually come to it but for right now I am just going to let my options fall where they may however that happens. Giving knowledge and helping the younger guys, that’s the thing I like to do. If that means getting myself into coaching then I guess that’s what I am working toward. I don’t know what the future holds but I’m just happy I am in the situation I’m in now.”

Related Topics


  • RamWraith
    5 Impressions on Spags
    by RamWraith
    By Bernie Miklasz

    Many of you saw or heard Steve Spanuolo’s first news conference as the Rams’ new head coach.

    I also just had my first one-on-one interview with Spagnuolo and here are my initial impressions of the man on a personal level:

    1. HE IS ABOVE ALL ELSE, SINCERE: I don’t sense a lot of fluff with this guy. He is naturally personable and down to earth. But he’s real. He isn’t trying to charm or schmooze anyone to try to create an image to play to the public. He seems very natural, and comfortable in his own skin. I usually can spot the phonies, but Spagnuolo is anchored. He knows who he is, and knows who he isn’t. I don’t think he’s going to be putting on any shows to score quick points with the fans and the media. Looking at what players have said about him in Philadelphia and New York, this seems to be one of his strongest points. He was a straight-up coach, and the players knew that they could believe what he told them. That credibility in the locker room is important.

    2. HE HAS PRESENCE: He’s a confident guy. He doesn’t brag on himself, but you can tell that he believes in what he does, and that he believes in his own ability to do a good job as a head coach, and that he won’t be meek or shaky around his players. They’ll spot that weakness right away; it’s why Scott Linehan never won the locker room. Spagnuolo has that understated confidence going for him. He’s a secure man. You won’t see this guy stroking his own ego, but he’s pleased to be Steve Spagnuolo. He has a lot of faith in Steve Spagnuolo. He believes that he’s the right man for this job, so let’s get to work. This side to his personality comes through when you talk to him. But on the other hand, he’s quick to make a joke about himself at his own expense, so there’s a touch of self-deprecating humor that works well. You get the feeling: this guy knows who he is, and what he’s doing. I’ve been around a bunch of coaches, and I can usually (not always) tell when a guy is a lightweight. I don’t get that impression with the new coach. Spagnuolo also has a good stare, a good glare. He’ll put that to effective use.

    3. FAITH IS IMPORTANT TO HIM: I know some folks don’t care for that. And hey, that’s up to you. I don’t think Spagnuolo is going to be running around preaching to people. I don’t think he’s going to turn the Rams into a God Squad — and by that, I mean that he won’t be imposing his religious beliefs on players, and that he won’t be favoring players who describe themselves as Christians. He made that clear to me. But it’s obvious that Spagnuolo is a proud Christian. When he signs an autograph, he notes his favorite verse of scripture: Hebrews 11:1. And he relies on his faith to get him through the tough times. He draws strength from it. It doesn’t matter what I think, but to me, that’s a plus. Because …

    -01-19-2009, 03:27 PM
  • r8rh8rmike
    A New Rams PLan
    by r8rh8rmike
    A new Rams plan

    By Jim Thomas

    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.


    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
  • mikhal5569
    Probably The Best Article I've Read All Year
    by mikhal5569
    Spagnuolo has Rams on right track.

    Don Banks.
    First-year Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo has*team on right track - Don Banks -
    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...
    -08-09-2009, 06:52 AM
  • MauiRam
    Little still sees himself as an every down player ..
    by MauiRam
    Aug. 2, 2009

    The Associated Press.
    ST. LOUIS (AP) -Leonard Little feels he's much more than a third-down pass rusher for the St. Louis Rams.

    After Sunday morning's full-pad practice at Rams Park, Little insisted he still can be an every-down defensive end.

    "I'll always be an everyday player if I'm healthy," Little said. "I don't know where people get this thing where, you know, that I'm just a third-down player. I've been playing every down since I've been starting."

    But with a new coaching staff headed by Steve Spagnuolo, Little knows things have changed. All he has to do is look around.

    Little is the only player left from the 1999 and 2001 Super Bowl teams, surviving three coaching changes. The 34-year-old, who was a third-round draft pick in 1998, is heading into his 12th season.

    "It's tremendously valuable to have that kind of experience and leadership," Spagnuolo said. "It's an important position on defense."

    Little acknowledged it's strange not to have Torry Holt and Orlando Pace - both released in recent months - around anymore.

    "I miss the guys," Little said. "You know, we won a lot of games together and we went through a lot of stuff together. It's different because you're used to being around those guys for so long. It takes a little time to get used to it but you've got to realize this is the NFL and stuff like that will happen. You have to adjust to it the best way you can and go out here and play regardless of what happens."

    Admitting he was nervous it could happen to him, Little said he was prepared for whatever happened.

    "You never know what's going to happen next," said Little, who is in the last year of a renegotiated contract he signed in 2006. "I knew I could be next."

    He didn't need to worry though. Spagnuolo liked what he saw from Little on tape and wanted to keep him.

    "In all the evaluations we did, he was part of the plan," Spagnuolo said. "So far, so good."

    The Rams recently signed defensive tackle Hollis Thomas, who turned 35 in January. That move made Little happy.

    "I'm not the oldest guy on the team no more so that's good," Little said laughing. "I told him he could be the grandpa around here."

    Little had six sacks and two forced fumbles to go along with 18 tackles, but played hurt for the second straight season last year. A hamstring injury slowed him, and he didn't start in the season finale at Atlanta. He also sat out during the minicamps.

    He's healed now and ready to go for the upcoming season.

    "I'm fine," Little said. "I'll be fine as long as I keep my body in good condition and stay injury free. I'll do anything they want...
    -08-02-2009, 10:57 PM
  • 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, 12:32 PM