And just what did the Rams new head coach have to say? Well, nothing earth-shattering in his first press avail since hiring all his coaches and coordinators (20 including Spags). A couple points of note:
On hiring his coaches...
What I tried to do as a model, and I think we kept to it pretty much, was if I hadn't known somebody personally or worked with them, what I tried to do was have it just be one person removed.
As I look around the staff, that pretty much held true...that either somebody on the staff had worked with that person, or I had worked with them. What we were looking for — the whole model for all of the staff — was to get great teachers, high-character (people). And the only way to really know how somebody teaches is to see 'em in action.
That's not a revelation, since familiarity is usually the unwritten item at the top of any candidate's resume for those doing the hiring. However, with Spagnuolo representing a new direction for the Rams, this is refreshing to hear. Coaches will be operating in a style consistent with Spagnuolo's 'team first' philosophy. Though we always joked about the "Friends of Linehan" hiring program, there were some key hires that didn't match well with the former coach, most notably Jim Haslett. Linehan and his defensive coordinator differed in their opinions and approach and that conflict really exposed itself in personnel decisions, letting LB Brandon Chillar walk and releasing CB Fakhir Brown for example.
There was some discussion in this thread about assistant/position coaches and what they bring to the players. In a word: teaching. It's not unlike the good teachers you remember from your school days (or bad teachers). They have a way of helping players put things together, taking a page in the playbook and translating it to action on the field, harnessing the motivation and direction from the head coach to get the best out of each player. Assistants know, in full detail, the strengths and weaknesses of their guys, delivering that knowledge to the coordinators and the coach as they hammer out the larger game plan. Spagnuolo's success with the Giants centered on sticking to his aggressive rush-first plans, even when that wasn't successful in the early going, but tapping into the talents of his players he made it work, all the way to the Super Bowl.
Now, I'm not going to get all Pollyanna on ya here, and let myself believe that Spagnuolo is some sort of football King Midas. I'm a long-time Rams fan, and that instills a certain degree of cynicism, too much cynicism to think like that. But, I do see, for the first time in a long time, a thoughtful, organic approach to assembling a team and making it work. Systems always work better when their various parts, from top to bottom, flow without much interference.
The other nugget of goodness in Spags presser was an update on where things stand with personnel evaluation and decision making. Spags...
I think we're going to have to rely heavily on Billy. He's been here for a year. And the (three assistant) coaches that we retained, who have a feel (for the personnel).
Because you can only see so much on film. But we'll use any and all of the resources that we have to get a bead on who we think can help us going forward.
Devaney's got a proven track record in his time so far with the Rams. Sure, there have been the free agent quasi-busts, like Jacob Bell (he'll get better), but he presided over a solid draft and found waiver wire pickups like Kenneth Darby that contributed and can continue to be useful contributors. Throw into the mix the first Pro Personnel evaluation staff in almost a decade, and there's reason to be confident in the Rams offseason movement.