Let’s be honest, at this point Steve Spagnuolo is a dead coach walking. Even if the conspiracy theorists are right and Stan Kroenke is okay with tanking the season, making a move to Los Angeles that much easier. I cannot imagine Stan is okay with failure of this magnitude. Regardless of the end game.
In the NFL some are destined to be great head coaches others to be great coordinators. And that is okay. We all have our station in life and the sooner one knows and accepts it the better of they will be. Dom Capers and Dick Labeu come to mind as coordinators who dabbled in head coaching but eventually accepted their roles as coordinators and went on have great success.
The last three head coaches of the Rams came up the ranks as coordinators, and successful ones at that. Mike Martz and Steve Spagnuolo won Super Bowls running the offense and defense respectively for the Rams and Giants and Scott Linehan had great success running the offense for Minnesota. Both Linehan and Martz went down in flames here in St. Louis but have gone on to resurrect their careers to a point…as coordinators in Detroit and Chicago.
Some men excel carrying the big clip board and making the big decisions. Others do much better from the booth. As a head coach you have to be aware of both sides of the game and work to develop each. In his time as Rams head coach Martz’s blatant disregard for defense and the draft for that matter didn’t have that much of an impact while he still had Vermeil’s GSOT players on the roster.
Scoring at a clip of close to 40 points a game covers up a lot of mistakes. Well as those players dwindled out and Martz was left with what he built, well. We all know how that ended. Linehan was just bad and working with what Martz left behind did not do him any favors. Steve Spagnuolo is in even deeper. While he has done better in the draft than either of his predecessors (though this is not saying much) he has failed to develop that talent on both sides.
The defense has improved even acknowledging this year’s regression. But the offense does not appear to be moving forward…at all. Bringing in offensive mastermind Josh McDaniels to work with All-Pro running back Steven Jackson and wunderkind Sam Bradford has not lit the spark many thought it would. And at the risk of pointing out the elephant in the room shouldn’t Sam Bradford be further along right now?
I am sorry but Spagnuolo does not get a pass here. This is his realm, his ship…HIS team. He cleaned house over the last couple of years with the help of Billy Devaney (no pass here either) and put this team together. Should they be 6-2 at this point, No. Hell, it would be easier to even accept their 1-7 record at this stage if the level of play wasn’t sp poor and Spagnuolo’s decision making so maddening.
Much of the troubles for Martz, Linehan and now Spagnuolo can be attributed to first time head coaching mistakes. Best way to cut down on that…QUIT HIRING FIRST TIME HEAD COACHES. Everyone wants to talk about and address the culture at Rams park. Part of that comes from experience. Experience Spagnoulo does not have the same way Martz and Linehan did not. Being 2nd in command is not the same as being top dog. As top dog there is no deflection (at least there should not be).
I do not have the answer for who should be the next head coach here in St. Louis nor do I have a list of candidates. Rather I would like to propose a new direction to Stan Kroenke as the inevitable search soon gets underway. Stay away from the next big thing assistants and the one year wonder coordinators. Please God do not call Rob Ryan. Take a look at the guys with head coaching experience, college or NFL. There is a deep pool of talent out there. Go for a swim.
Head coach of the St. Louis Rams is not a destination job, but that does not mean it has to be a training one either.
@sportsbyweeze It's an interesting point on Spagnuolo, but I don't think you should tar all coordinators with the same brush. Mike McCarthy had never been a head coach before taking over the Packers in 2006, and that's working out pretty well. Same with Mike Tomlin in Pittsburgh. Ken Whisenhunt may be on the hot seat now, but he stepped out of the coordinator ranks and took the Cardinals to the Super Bowl. Chan Gailey was a guy who was always known as a clipboard-carrier, even with a couple of short-term stints as the head coach, but he's a coach-of-the-year candidate now in Buffalo.
I think you just have to find that extra quality that sits in some people, that ability to motivate, to drive people to excel, and that has to be paired with a strong system knowledge to put people in place to succeed.
Linehan was a spectacular failure in the motivation game, but his system knowledge is working for him again as an offensive coordinator. I would put Martz in a similar category. His quarterback juggling and bickering with Warner frustrated the entire team, and he took almost no responsibility for anything on the defensive side of the ball.
Spagnuolo was a step forward as a leader of men from Linehan, and was able to build a team that pulled together from player 1 to 53. But his conservative bent on offense hurt the team in the first two years, and he and Devaney had a rough go in free agency this year, a black mark on their ability to correctly identify people who fit into their system.
Whether he's in a rut, or is being exposed as a guy who just doesn't have that extra something, is tough to say. I'd have to have more locker room access -- to multiple teams, not just ours -- to form a firm opinion on that. But it's clear that his prospects for continuing to coach here are awful slim. 2-3 wins down the stretch and a handful of promise won't get the job done. He needs to show that he has that extra something, and that he can communicate it through the team and translate it into wins. A lot of them. In a hurry.
Or else, the search begins.
You're right and I am not intending to lump all coordinators in together. Just noting the Rams "luck" with them. And you support my point in how well Martz and Linehan are doing back in their coordinator roles. Also what can be implied as well from the Tomlin, Whisenhunt and McCarthy mentions is the organizational structure and most importantly talent that was already in place.
In my opinion having more experience can help with pulling talent out of what you have. Something Spags and the Rams are struggling to do. Granted the next assistant the bring in could be the second coming of Bill Walsh for me, it's just a big risk with where this franchise is and the next coaching hire is going to be a huge, huge move for the Rams.
Also, I really wanted to make a stand for good discussion rather than coming of wishy-washy
@SportsbyWeeze Taking a stand is a good thing. And I will say that out of the short list of known candidates out there right now, Jeff Fisher is the most intriguing to me. So take my defense of coordinators with a grain (or a full shaker) of salt.