Rams: Meet The New Boss, Same As The Old Boss?

Brian McDowellCorrespondent IMay 9, 2009

EARTH CITY, MO - MAY 2: Head coach Steve Spagnuolo of the St. Louis Rams watches his team during a mini camp on May 2, 2009 at the Russell Training Center in Earth City, Missouri.  (Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

It is difficult for unfortunate fans of the St. Louis Rams to look at the upcoming season with too much optimism, and a big reason for that is that our team of choice hasn't had a decent head coach since Mike Martz. Since his brief reign,  the former Greatest Show On Turf has been overseen by a string of cheap, depressing ringmaster hacks, all of whom haven't seen an impressive victory since the last time they watched a DVD of the movie Braveheart. The once great Rams have been devalued, and disheartened. After last year's utterly forgettable two-victory depression-fest of a season, one in which our team's former underdog of a quarterback led our city's former underdog of a football team roaring into the Super Bowl, the owners of the Rams have brought in a new head coach, Steve Spagnuolo, a long-time east coast defensive coordinator who's never been the head coach of a team before.

It is difficult to dismiss Spagnuolo's job credentials,  because he put together the brilliant defensive strategy that saw the much hated Tom Brady get sacked five times and powered the New York Giants to be the unlikely winners of last year's Super Bowl. He also was defensive coordinator for the Eagles, who are perennially among the NFL's most intimidating teams. Spagnuolo's mastery of the blitz-heavy 4-3 defense should improve the prospects of the battered Rams.  However, his skills as a defensive strategist are difficult to reconcile with the Rams' decision yesterday to release the scrappy leading tackler from last year's team, Pisa Tinoisamoa, which seems like, to a lot of us, a disastrously stupid decision. Still, it's a safe bet that Spagnuolo and new defensive coordinator, Ken Flajole, will at least make the Rams' defense more effective than it was last season.

It is difficult to predict what Spagnuolo will do to improve the Rams' offense, since that's never before been his area of expertise. He has brought in a former Quarterbacks Coach from the Eagles, Pat Shurmur, as an offensive coordinator, and reportedly, the two are busy putting together a "west coast style" offense, that will rely heavily on runningback Stephen Jackson, which seems like a smart and logical plan. Essentally, Marc Bulger is, at best, ineffective quarterback who has no real established receivers to throw to. So, yeah, in lieu of putting some real money into getting a decent young quarterback, beefing up the offensive line and increasing the effectiveness of the Rams' running game is the only move that can be expected to improve last year's dismal lack of touchdowns.

How well is this attempt to transform a terrible team going to work? I have a small amount of optimism, but I think longtime fans of the Rams have learned to hope for the best, but always prepare for the worst. Still, we all wish Spagnuolo and his new crew lots of luck. They're definitely going to need it.