Rams Head Coach Steve Spagnulo is known as Spags among his family, friends and NFL peers. In 2009, in his first few days on the job, Spags immediately infused the Rams with discipline, direction and wisdom. The first order of business after assembling his coaching staff was getting his message out. That message? TEAM first! He delivered his address to the organization. Explaining to ALL what they should expect from him as the Head Coach. He wanted to know how he could help each and every department. He spoke about TEAMWORK, DISCIPLINE and TOGETHERNESS. Steering everyone eye to eye, he wanted it understood that it was extremely important that everyone moved in the same direction. That was paramount. Each person would play a very important part of building this championship foundation. The speech was from the heart and every word was meaningful.
I was in my third season with the Rams organization; Spags was the first Head Coach or Front office Executive to address the organization with direction – so refreshing! He continued to meet in small groups with each department as promised.
When photos of former Rams players were pulled off the hallway walls leading to the player lounge and locker room, it stirred up a hornets nest, but for no reason. All the photos in that area of Rams Park were littered with individual shots. His message was loud and clear; find some TEAM PHOTOS to hang because we need that locker to be 53 strong, one heartbeat.
This young energetic Coach has paid his dues and is well prepared to lead 53 men and the Rams organization. His football roots go deep. He was a member of the Grafton High school Hall of Fame. He was the 1982 recipient of the Male Scholar Athlete of the Year award at Springfield College in Springfield Massachusetts. He received his Bachelor’s degree in Physical Education.
His first coaching stop was as the GA (Graduate Assistant Coach) at University of Massachusetts, were he earned his Master’s Degree in Sports Management. He made two stops in the NFL on the personnel side of the house as an intern in ’83 with the Washington Redskins and then ten years later as a scout with the San Diego Chargers.
He has the natural ability and passion for teaching and coaching, along with strong leadership qualities. Spags jumped back into College football – sharpening his skills at Lafayette College, University of Connecticut, Maine along with Rutgers and Bowing Green. He took a few trips across the pond and coached in the WLAF (World League of American Football’s, (a league funded by the National Football League), Frankfurt Germany (Galaxy) and Barcelona Spain (Dragons).
The Philadelphia Eagles hired Spags as a Defensive Assistant in 1999. He was promoted to Defensive Backs Coach in 2001 and Linebackers in 2004. His tenure with the eagles (’99-2005) was successful – they made four NFC Championship appearances and one Super Bowl. Having coached on the defensive side of the ball for most if not all of his career, he accepted the Defensive Coordinators position with the New York Giants in 2007.
After great success with the Giants and a Super Bowl Victory, Spags’ name was bantered around the league for head coaching vacancies, and deservingly so. Spags as paid his dues, prepared through the tutelage he received from coaches like Andy Reid (Philadelphia Eagles), Tom Coughlin (New York Giants) and the late Jim Johnson (the beloved Defensive Coordinator with Eagles), and all the stops along the way.
He formed his own package, surrounded himself with very capable coaching staff. Soon after he arrived in St. Louis, the team was purged – it went from the third oldest to the third youngest in a few months. This team was stripped to bare bones, and it played like its roster read – an expansion team.
This defensive minded Head Coach has a proven plan. He needs playmakers on both sides of the ball. This will allow him to build a high pressure defense and insert weapons to surround Sam Bradford and Steven Jackson. He is a good judge of talent because he works at it. He studies film and grills scouts on their convictions on a player.
This Coach needs to have more of a voice in the Draft Room – possibly the final say on which players are chosen. The Draft is the bloodline of the organization. There should be a good mix of Coaches and Personnel input but ultimately Spags should have the final say on any roster upgrades or changes.
He has the knowledge to handle such a chore for a young Head Coach. To go 1-15 his first season with a bare bones roster, with his team still fighting in the last minutes of the final contest and not quitting on him, says a lot about the man and the coach. As a fifteen year Personnel Man in the NFL, I worked with five Head Coaches counting Spags; He has my respect as a Head Coach and talent evaluator.