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.