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News » St. Louis Rams Inside Slant 2009-02-03

St. Louis Rams Inside Slant 2009-02-03

St. Louis Rams Inside Slant 2009-02-03
The day after the Rams ended the 2008 season with a 2-14 record, newly anointed general manager Billy Devaney got down to work finding a new coach.

Less than three weeks later, he had his man with the hiring of New York Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. But even Devaney admits when the process began, Spagnuolo wasn't realistically on his radar. That's because Devaney expected the Giants to be in the Super Bowl, and he knew the Rams weren't in position to wait until early February to hire a coach.

As Devaney was moving along with interviews, the unexpected happened on Jan. 11. Spagnuolo's mentor, Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Johnson, helped knock the Giants out of the playoffs.

That's when Devaney's wheels started spinning wildly. He scheduled interviews that week in Los Angeles with Leslie Frazier, Jason Garrett and Spagnuolo, with Spagnuolo going last on Jan. 15.

Said Spagnuolo, "When it was all said and done, I had a good feeling. I was sold, as they were. When you feel the right fit, when you feel you're around the right people, and it's something that has been in your heart for a long time, that's the time to do it."

Less than 48 hours later, he became the Rams' seventh head coach in 15 seasons, including interim coaches Joe Vitt and Jim Haslett.

Concluded Devaney, "While Steve is a friend of mine, at the end of the day, the guy's a phenomenal coach. Friendship aside, he's the guy that can take us to championship level and the fact that I know him and I know what kind of person he is, that's a bonus. Maybe the football Gods were finally looking down on us."

Now, Devaney and Spagnuolo will put together their plan, implement it and, most important, stick to it.

As Spagnuolo said when asked what realistic expectations fans can have, "They will have a group that will be team-first, that will be team-oriented and will build a foundation that will help us be successful and sustain success. I think that's what it's all about.

"There has to be a beginning before you can go anywhere else. I threw four words at you on the pillars. Now faith was the first one; there has to be some faith. Faith in what we're doing, faith in our philosophy and we certainly hope to have a little bit of patience. It will be a process."

The other "pillars" are character, core values and team first. Spagnuolo said, "As a head coach, I will be committed to doing everything possible to bring success to this franchise. I'm not about predictions, I'm not about bold statements. But those will be the four pillars we will hang our hat on."

Spagnuolo used the word "process" a lot during his first day meeting with the media. He believes it, and learned it from Eagles coach Andy Reid. Spagnuolo joined Reid's staff in 1999 a year after the Eagles were 3-13.

Spagnuolo said, "One thing I learned from Andy Reid is, it's a process. And we're going to have to start at the beginning here, take it one step at a time and build on it. Get the team-first (attitude) together and then we'll move on.

"I like this challenge I'm involved with; it's very similar. There's some excitement about the fact that I've gone through it already one time. And because I went through it with a guy (Reid) that I have a great deal of respect for and thought did it exactly right, I'm hoping I can draw on that experience here."

Not lost on Devaney, who has known Spagnuolo for years, is that he has grown accustomed to winning. Since 2000, in nine seasons with the Eagles and Giants, those teams have won 97 regular-season games, six division titles, made the playoffs two other seasons, advanced to five conference championship games (winning two) and won one Super Bowl. The only non-playoff season was 2005 with Philadelphia, when quarterback Donovan McNabb tried to play with a sports hernia, finally missed the last seven games and the Eagles started 4-2 only to lose eight of their last 10 games.

Overall, in his 10 seasons as an NFL assistant, the teams he has coached have an overall 102-58 record in the regular season, plus 12-7 in the playoffs.

Spagnuolo concluded, "It's not about one person. It's about people, a lot of people. You get all the people heading in the same direction and you've got a fighting chance. It will always be about team. It's not about egos. The teams that function the best I believe in any industry are those where nobody cares who gets the credit; everybody just cares about the team."

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: February 3, 2009

Trent Green Name: Trent Green
Position: QB
Age: 38
Experience: 15 years
College: Indiana
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