Rams hire former Giants’ defensive coordinator Spagnuolo as head coach

One day after VP of Personnel Billy Devaney said that Cowboys’ offensive coordinator Jason Garrett was the Rams’ “leading guy” to replace Scott Linehan/Jim Haslett, the team hired former Giants’ defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo as their next head coach.

Steve SpagnuoloUPDATE: The NFL Network is reporting that Spagnuolo and the Rams have agreed on a four-year contract worth $11.5 million. I was unable to independently verify this information and have no idea if it’s accurate.

Spagnuolo, 49, was the Giants defensive coordinator in 2007 and 2008 and came up with the game plan that resulted in five sacks of Tom Brady and a shocking upset of the undefeated New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII.

Before that, Spagnuolo learned his trade under acclaimed Philadelphia defensive coordinator Jim Johnson, working as an Eagles defensive assistant from 1999-2006. Spagnuolo came out of the Philadelphia experience with a variety of multiple defensive formations and blitz packages that he put to great use with the Giants.

Rams GM Billy and Spagnuolo have been friends for many years and that relationship obviously created a trust factor that helped Spagnuolo feel comfortable about taking the Rams job.

After devising a defensive scheme to beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl last year, Spags became one of the hottest names in the coaching ranks. The Rams are definitely getting a quality coach and one that understands what it takes to reach the Super Bowl. Given the team’s struggles over the years on defense, it’s not a big surprise that the Rams went with a defensive-minded coach, but one has to wonder if they gave up on the next great offensive mind in Garrett.

Still, defense wins championship so it’ll be interesting to see what Spags can do for a player like Chris Long.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

Memo to Rams – think QB next April

Rams-49ersIt’s incredibly way too early to be thinking about the 2009 NFL Draft but if I were general manager of the St. Louis Rams, I’d definitely be thinking about making my first pick a quarterback next April.

The effort that Marc Bulger turned in during the first half of the Rams’ 35-16 loss to the San Francisco 49ers was absolutely abysmal. Bulger’s final numbers weren’t that bad – 34 of 53 for 295 yards, 1 TD, 2 INTs – but most of that came in the second half when the Niners were already up 35-3 and were on cruise control.

Jim Haslett doesn’t have much of a choice but to go with Bulger as his starter because Trent Green is even worse (if that’s even possible). But St. Louis has to do something at quarterback next year because Bulger clearly isn’t a quality starter anymore. Against the 49ers on Sunday, he repeatedly threw into double and triple coverage throughout the first half and worse yet, he didn’t even look like he was trying to read the defense. He also lost a fumble on a bad exchange with the center, which San Fran promptly turned into a touchdown. Bulger’s overall effort was absolutely pitiful.

And speaking of Haslett, how does he expect to land another head coaching job with how bad the Rams have played the past three weeks? The front office for St. Louis should feel fortunate that Roger Goodell reminded them of the Rooney Rule when they tried to offer Haslett a full time job following the team’s win against the Redskins in his first game as interim head coach.

The Lions might be winless, but I’d bet the house that they could beat the Rams right now. At least Detroit gives a little effort.

NFL Week 11 Primer

John HarbaughSunday’s Best: Ravens (6-3) at Giants (8-1), 1:00 PM ET
Who would have thought this game would be the best matchup of the week with the Chargers playing the Steelers and Cowboys taking on the Redskins in the same weekend. The job first-year head coach John Harbaugh and his staff has done with rookie quarterback Joe Flacco has been amazing and the rest of the Baltimore players have really bought into the new regime’s system. They’ll get their biggest challenge this season on Sunday, however, as no team outside of the Titans is playing better than the Giants right now. There are a couple of great matchups within this game, but none bigger than New York’s power running game vs. the stingy Baltimore run defense. One advantage the Giants have is that this will be the Ravens’ fifth road game in six weeks and they might start to wear down. Flacco will face a ton of pressure from a quick Giants’ front seven, but getting Willis McGahee, Ray Rice and Le’Ron McClain going will help neutralize what New York does best defensively. This will be the most physical matchup of the weekend.

Upset Watch: Rams (2-7) at 49ers (2-7), 4:05 PM ET
Everyone is scrambling to be the first to predict the Jaguars to upset the Titans this weekend, but people have been waiting for Tennessee to fall for weeks and still they remain unbeaten. It’s hardly a huge upset to predict one 2-7 team will beat another, but after their strong showing on Monday night, football pundits might assume this game will be an easy victory for the Niners. While there’s nothing to like about the Rams following their abysmal performance last week against the Jets, this is a better team than what they’ve shown and San Fran is a bit dysfunctional right now after their debacle on Monday Night Football. Jim Haslett is still fighting for a head coaching job (as is Mike Singletary) and there’s no doubt he’ll have his team more prepared than they were last week in New York. Of course, a win for the Rams would mean that Marc Bulger has to get his head out of his ass and someone has to find Torry Holt. But as usual with my “Upset Watch”, I won’t predict an outright win for St. Louis, but I say they at least cover the 5.5-point spread.

Tony RomIntriguing Matchup: Cowboys (5-4) at Redskins (6-3), 8:15 PM ET
Tony Romo will be back in action this week, but will he need a game or two to shake off the rust? Unfortunately for him, Dallas can’t afford to lose any more ground in a stacked NFC East. The Redskins are also fighting to keep pace in the division and will look to avenge their ugly loss to the Steelers on Monday Night Football two weeks ago. They’ll have to do it without Clinton Portis, however, as he currently is sidelined with a MCL injury. Jason Campbell has been solid this season, but he’ll need to make plays without Portis in the backfield. If the Cowboys are going to walk away with a win, they’ll do so because of a strong defensive effort – not the play of Romo.

Other Notable Games:
Titans (9-0) at Jaguars (4-5), 4:15 PM ET
As previously noted, everyone is waiting for the Titans to slip and this very well could be the weekend they do. But they don’t seem like the team that gets ahead of themselves and every one of their wins has been a dogfight. The Jaguars rebounded with an impressive win over the Lions last week, but let’s not forget that they lost to the Bengals and Browns in two games prior to that.

Bears (5-4) at Packers (4-5), 1:00 PM ET
This is a must win for both teams because the Vikings are right back in the division hunt again. If the Packers lose, they might be able to kiss the playoffs goodbye. Kyle Orton is expected to play for the Bears.

Vikings (5-4) at Bucs (6-3), 1:00 PM ET
We’ll find out a lot about Minnesota this Sunday and whether or not they’ve returned from the grave. A win over a solid Tampa team would go a long way in proving they’ve rebounded from earlier seasons struggles.

Broncos (5-4) at Falcons (6-3), 1:00 PM ET
The legend of Matt Ryan continues this week in the Georgia Dome. Ryan is 4-0 at home this year and will have plenty of opportunities to make big plays against a horrible Denver defense. But Jay Cutler as lit opposing defenses up this year and there could be a wild finish to this game in the making.

The Rams are an embarrassment

Jim HaslettRemember when Jim Haslett took over for Scott Linehan about a month ago and the Rams beat the Redskins in Washington and then crushed the Cowboys at home the very next week? Well, those wins are nothing but a distant memory.

The Jets hammered the Rams 47-3 at Giants Stadium on Sunday, but it wasn’t even that close. St. Louis trailed 40-0 at halftime, turned the ball over five times, managed only 200 total yards and were just 4 of 10 on third downs. Even when they marched into the red zone, they still couldn’t muster any points.

It was impressive how the Rams responded when Haslett was chosen as interim coach. They showed emotion, played inspired and actually resembled a football team. But their last two games have shown that the front office needs to completely blow this team up. They need a new quarterback because Marc Bulger has been a disaster and Trent Green should have retired two years ago. They need an offensive line. They need a secondary and they need a new direction.

As for the Jets, I know Brett Favre gets all the attention for the team’s turnaround this year but the defense deserves a ton of credit too. Eric Mangini has the defense playing more aggressively and unsung players like Abram Elam are stepping up big. If the Jets make the playoffs this year, Favre would have played a big part. But it’ll be the defense that will determine just how far they eventually go.

NFL Week 9 Primer

Brad JohnsonSunday’s Best: Cowboys (5-3) at Giants (6-1), 4:15 PM ET
This game has lost a lot of its luster with Brad Johnson starting at quarterback in place of the injured Tony Romo and the uncertainty of Jason Witten’s (ribs) status. But it’s still a classic NFC East matchup and the Dallas defense is coming off its best performance of the season in a win over the Bucs. Let’s be frank – the Giants should roll. Their pass rush should eat Johnson alive, which could mean we see Brooks Bollinger before the day is over. But the wildcard in this scenario is Marion Barber. If the Cowboys can get him going and Johnson doesn’t turn the ball over, Dallas might be able to play conservative and sneak out a win. But if they get down early, a second half comeback is unlikely and New York might post a double-digit victory. The Cowboy defense will have to produce an effort similar to the one they did last Sunday against Tampa or else Eli Manning, Brandon Jacobs and the rest of the G-Men offense should have no problem putting up 30 points.

Upset Watch: Cardinals (4-3) at Rams (2-5), 1:00 PM ET
Since Jim Haslett took over in St. Louis, the Rams are playing more physically sound football. They hung tough against the Patriots last week in Foxboro despite not having Steve Jackson in their backfield and the defense is starting to show signs of life. The Cardinals are coming off a disappointing loss to the Panthers, a game in which they led 17-3 early in the third quarter. Arizona continues to struggle on the road and although he’s played well this year, Kurt Warner can’t seem to avoid costly turnovers. Jackson might not play again this week, but the Cards’ defense doesn’t post that much of a threat and the Rams should have enough offensively to pull out a win. Obviously they’ll need to keep Warner and ‘Zona’s prolific passing attack at bay, but this could be one of the better upsets in Week 9 if St. Louis keeps playing hard under Haslett.

Indianapolis Colts
Intriguing Matchup: Patriots (5-2) at Colts (3-4), 8:15 PM ET
Boy this game has lost a lot of pizzazz hasn’t it? Who would have thought that when this game was schedule, it would feature a Tom Brady-less Patriots and a 3-4 Colts team? Regardless, this is still the most interesting matchup on the Week 9 schedule. Indy has to win this game to at least keep within sniffing distance of a Wild Card berth and New England is in a great battle with the surprising Buffalo Bills in the AFC East. The Colts have major issues on the defensive side of the ball and things got worse earlier this week when it was discovered that starting CB Marlin Jackson would miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL. Without Jackson and Bob Sanders in the secondary, the Colts are giving up big plays on third downs. If they sell out to stop the run, opposing quarterbacks are picking apart the beleaguered secondary. If they play not to get burned deep, opposing backs are having a field day running against Indy’s smaller front seven. A loss to the Pats on Sunday night could mean a Colts-less postseason in the NFL. That’s hard to imagine.

Other Notable Games:
Packers (4-3) at Titans (7-0), 1:00 PM ET
With “Elbow Bad” Johnson starting for the Cowboys this weekend in New York, the Green Bay-Tennessee game might wind up being the best matchup on the Week 9 schedule. With the Titans coming off a short week and finally getting the monkey off their backs in beating the Colts, are they primed for the taking? Aaron Rodgers vs. the Titans’ D should be an intriguing battle.

Ravens (4-3) at Browns (3-4), 1:00 PM ET
Some believe that Baltimore is a legitimate playoff contender in the AFC and Cleveland is starting to resemble the team that many thought would take the next step this year. You gotta love it when Art Modell has to travel to Cleveland, too.

Dolphins (3-4) at Broncos (4-3), 4:05 PM ET
Miami continues to be one of the better surprises this year in the NFL and will look to build off their impressive win over Buffalo last Sunday. Denver needs to shake off its embarrassing loss to the Patriots two weeks ago on Monday night.

Related Posts