The quarterback question facing the St. Louis Rams for the remainder of the season is open for discussion, so let's get to the other hot button issue facing the Rams: Richie Incognito.
To bench or not to bench...
Incredibly, the hot headed guard committed two personal foul penalties yesterday. He lost his cool in what was a chippy, physical game. It's tough to look at this game and the image of Incognito jawing with Spagnuolo on the sidelines, giving his coach the old "not my fault" rejoinder and not think that the guy should spend some time on the bench. After all, this isn't the first incident of this kind for Cogs, hell, it's not even the first game of the season in which he had two personal foul penalties. Not that the Rams would have scored points anyway, but his penalties yesterday were drive killers.
Now, the other side of the coin. We mentioned Incognito's other game this season in which he collected two personal foul flags; it was the season opener in Seattle. He spent a little time on the bench during that game and some time reflecting with the coach in the days after. Fans, myself included, were ready for his head on a platter. But, he managed somehow to get it together and became one of the team's better blockers.
Spagnuolo has some sliver of his reputation on the line with this week's decision on Incognito. Bernie Miklasz from the PD took both player and coach to task today.
Here’s the deal: Spagnuolo stood by Incognito early this season when Incognito pulled the same kind of stuff at Seattle. Spagnuolo took the hit from fans and media by giving Incognito another chance and by, in so many words, defending him. And how did Incognito repay Spags for that?
Why would Spagnuolo (and GM Billy Devaney) believe they can win with with this guy?
Because of Incognito, Spagnuolo comes across as a weak guy who can be taken advantage of by players.
Without a doubt, Cogs' move was a blow to Spags, but Miklasz ignores the results the Rams head coach got from his starting right guard after the week one incident. So, in the wake of the first incident Spags didn't come across as weak, he came across as right. Now, after weeks of solid play and a few weeks on the sidelines with a foot injury, Spags has to make this decision again.
Miklasz is being short-sighted, forgetting what happened with Incognito after week one, but he's absolutely right in that there has to be some accountability for the guard now. Though the Jacob Bell injury situation might impact the decision to bench Cogs, it's worth remembering as we start planning for the 2010 season that during Adam Goldberg's time filling in for Incognito the Rams lost nothing in performance from that position. The troubled guard may be talented but he's not irreplaceable.