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Game ball of the week: Steve Spagnuolo

This post is sponsored by Sprint.

The beauty of the St. Louis Rams week 3 win over Washington was that it wasn't just a fluke, a fortunate bounce that put the Rams on top or even an injury to one of the opponent's key players. Every player on the field gave it their all, making effective units on both sides of the ball. 

That's not to imply that it was 60 minutes of absolutely perfect football, but it was an all around great effort. Most importantly, the Rams answered concerns that they lacked the ability to "finish" games, i.e. turn opportunities into points, finish drives and make stops when they were needed the most. 

In the red zone, the Rams converted 2 of 3 chances. On defense, they allowed Washington to convert just 1 of 10 first downs, most of those in long yardage situations, and held them to just 16 points. 

Plenty of players made a case for the game ball this week, not the least of which was rookie QB Sam Bradford, but given the excellent play of the team, I have to agree with C Jason Brown and give the game ball to head coach Steve Spagnuolo.


Fans wondered about the team's propensity to fall apart in the third quarter and their general inability to capitalize on strong starts to each game. This week, the Rams seemed to play better as the game went on, answering the demands of fans and pundits that the coaches make unnamed "adjustments" at the half. And make adjustments they did. John Greco was brought into the rotation at RG to help open middle lanes for the backup running backs. Sam Bradford started making audibles at the line, dumping running plays with defenders stacked up close. They ran the ball out of 3 and 4 receiver sets. Two players shot through the same gap to break into the Washington backfield, and the Rams kept relentless pressure on Donovan McNabb throughout the game with the usual array of unusual blitz packages, even when bringing in two corners resulted in the defense getting burned a couple times. 

More importantly, the players made plays. Players hung onto interceptions, linebackers didn't get lost in traffic, offensive linemen worked into the second level, receivers hit their blocks, running backs kept defenders off the QB, etc. The point being that the Rams executed in way that secured the win. Credit for that goes to the coaches. 

When Spagnuolo was the Giants defensive coordinator, in their championship season, the defense was shredded in the first two outings of the season. The story goes that Spags kept his players believing in the system and themselves. Something clicked, and they went on to ruin New England's perfect season, terrorizing Tom Brady in the Super Bowl that year. It's hard not to wonder if there's something similar at play here. 

We'll know more this week and each week beyond that.