The St. Louis Rams organization went through a major overhaul this off season. Seizing the opportunity to bring in new talent, Rams owner Stan Kroenke went after the top coaching name available in Jeff Fisher. The big benefit of bringing in someone with Coach Fisher’s pedigree and experience is that you draw instant interest from professional coaches across the league, and you have coach Fisher’s circle of friends and long-time associates chomping at the bit to work with him. Read on to learn a little about our new Special Teams coaches.
Special Teams- John Fassel
Football fans may remember the name Jim Fassel from the 2000 New York Football Giants who went to the Super Bowl. The Rams have brought in none other than his son John Fassel, to coach up our special teams. The Rams created a big need for a solid Special Teams Coordinator when they released Josh Brown this off season and decided to go with rookie kicker Greg Zuerlein. St. Louis also has several prospects to hit the return game, having drafted some speed at receiver, running back, and defensive backs in Chris Givens, Isaiah Peed, Daryl Richardson, and Trumaine Johnson.
John Fassel has had his hand in some great coaching efforts but he didn’t start out in the NFL as a coach. John played wide receiver at Weber State before being picked up by the Colts as an undrafted free agent. His career didn’t pan out as a player. John’s first coaching jobs were menial with Bucknell and Idaho State as a graduate assistant.
A graduate assistant like Fassel is hired due to potential talent or pedigree, and given a job to start out in coaching. Most of their duties involve getting coffee or learning to analyze film. Often graduate assistants are being groomed for higher level coaching jobs due to connections they may have in the coaching world. John went on to work with the now defunct NFL Europe Amsterdam Admirals as strength and conditioning coach (2000). He coached again at Bucknell (2001) as the wide receivers coach. John moved on to New Mexico Highlands (2002-2003) as Head Coach and the Assistant Athletic Director.
John was the Assistant Special Teams Coach with the Baltimore Ravens from 2005-2007, where his units finished in the top 10 in punt and return coverage in 2006 and 2007. After his success with the Ravens, John was picked up by the Oakland Raiders as Special Teams Quality Control (2008). What does a quality control coach do? Glad you asked! Do the names John Gruden or Eric Mangini ring a bell? Well Rams fans, these guys started out as quality control. Remember that graduate assistant thing we covered earlier? Take that and put it on steroids. We are talking breaking down film of opponents 5 to 6 weeks in advance, grabbing coffee and donuts, sleeping in the office, doing statistical analysis on down and distance until your eyes bleed, and most importantly, being able to articulate and run reports for the coaches so that they can make personnel and player package decisions, along with game plans and even what time to schedule the plane to take off for the east coast. Whew! Those guys do a lot.
John must have impressed because the very next year he was offered the job of Special Teams Coordinator. From 2009 to 2011 John coached up the special teams units of the Raiders, with his highest marks coming in 2009 and 2010 when the team led the league in special teams’ takeaways and turnover differential. John should be able to help the beleaguered Rams special teams. He is a tough bastard, having competed in triathlons, and having finished 3 Iron Man Competitions (Arizona 2006, and Couer D’Alene 2007, 2008). Fassel is also big into yoga, "yoga is exactly what my body needs. I try to plan a run or ride immediately before class, which is a great combo. I travel a lot so now I do some of the poses when I'm on the road too." Perhaps he can translate some of that flexibility onto the field when working with our punters and kickers!
Special Teams Assistant- Paul Boudreau Jr.
Another name familiar to the Rams should be Paul Boudreau, who coached here in the Lou from 2006 to 2007. Well, as with John Fassel, Fisher has brought in another son of a coach, Paul Boudreau Jr., to flesh out his staff. Having spent the last 16 years in college coaching, Paul Jr. is ready to get on the practice field with the Rams. Paul Jr. has coached mostly at small programs such as North Eastern (97), Cincinnati (98), Brown (99-06), and Central Connecticut (07-08), Fitchburg State (09), Mass Maritime (10), Widner (11). During his collegiate career he has been quarterbacks coach, running backs coach, passing game coordinator, wide receivers coach, and game/analysis coordination.
His professional resume is much shorter, having coached special teams with our northern brothers in the Canadian Football league with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in 2008. Paul Jr. also served with the Rams when Pops was in town as an assistant coach (Tight Ends, Special Teams, Quarterbacks, and Wide Receivers). Paul Jr. brings with him a solid back ground in coaching, and with this being Paul Jr.’s second stint with the Rams he hopes to help John Fassel make the Rams special teams relevant again. If he is anything like his father, the Rams can expect a tough, technically sound coach putting them through the ringer every practice.