Tag:St. Louis Rams
Posted on: January 2, 2012 10:27 am
Edited on: January 2, 2012 11:28 am
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Steve Spagnuolo fired by Rams

The coaching hot seat begins to claim victims: St. Louis dumps Steve Spagnuolo after three seasons

By Ryan Wilson

Steve Spagnuolo made his name during Super Bowl XLII, when he devised a game plan to stop the thought-to-be-unstoppable 2007 New England Patriots, who were 18-0 heading into the championship game and went back to Foxboro 18-1. A year later, Spagnuolo replaced Jim Haslett (who had replaced Scott Linehan) as the Rams head coach.

Now, three years later, he'll be replaced by the next guy the organization thinks can save the Rams. On Monday, St. Louis fired Spagnuolo after going 10-38 in three season, including one win in '09 and two in '11. The news was first reported by Fox Sports' Jay Glazer.

Much like Raheem Morris in Tampa Bay, Spagnuolo may have been a victim of his own success. In 2010, the Rams were 7-9 and a Week 17 victory away from winning the division and going to the playoffs for the first time since 2004 (where, incidentally, they qualified as an 8-8 team). Now St. Louis is headed for the No. 2 overall pick in April's draft two years after they selected quarterback Sam Bradford with the first-overall pick.

"We considered some very qualified and outstanding candidates for this position but we kept coming back to Steve Spagnuolo," General Manager Billy Devaney said in January 2009. "Steve has been on some outstanding defensive staffs during his 10 seasons in the NFL. He represented what we were looking for."

And that was the plan: Spags would bolster the Rams' porous defense (in 2008, they were 30th, according to Football Ousiders; 27th against the pass, 32nd against the run). Except that didn't happen: St. Louis ranked 31st in '09, 20th in '10 and 19th in '11. It was an improvement, but clearly not enough to change the Rams' fortunes. Exacerbating matters: the offense was worse, even with Bradford under center for parts of the last two seasons.

(Before Spags) 2008 - 32nd overall, 32nd passing, 29th rushing
(With Spags) 2009 - 32nd, 32nd, 25th
2010 - 30th, 27th, 31st
2011 - 32nd, 31st, 32nd

Now what? There were reports last week that Jon Gruden and A.J. Smith could be headed to St. Louis but Gruden said later that he's returning to ESPN. So the Rams will look elsewhere. As for Spagnuolo, he could end up in Philadelphia as the Eagles' defensive coordinator.

That could mean curtains for Eagles incumbent Juan Castillo, the longtime offensive assistant hired as the defensive coordinator prior to the season. There were reports earlier this month that Reid's future in Philly was contingent on parting ways with Castillo. (Reid later denied it.)  Of course, Castillo could return to coaching the offensive line, a position he held from 1998-2010 in Philly. As for Spags' imminent arrival, there are some logistics to take care of first.

Spags is certainly qualified for the job but the Eagles also have Jim Washburn as their defensive line coach. Washburn came to Philly from Tennessee and he brought the "wide nine" with him. It's a scheme built on getting pressure from the front four and involves little blitzing. Spags was a zone-blitzing maniac during his DC days.

Whatever happens, Spagnuolo's talents will be in demand. And if he again proves himself as a coordinator he'll likely get another chance at a head-coaching gig down the line.

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Posted on: January 1, 2012 12:47 pm
Edited on: January 1, 2012 1:09 pm
 

Casserly: 'Strong sentiment' for Caldwell return

Caldwell appreciates the Colts trying to save his gig. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

There's a lot of chatter about potential coaching changes around the NFL, with Black Monday looming in less than 24 hours. Jim Caldwell of the Colts, Norv Turner of the Chargers, Andy Reid of the Eagles and Steve Spanguolo of the Rams are all considered on the proverbial hot seat.

The Giants Tom Coughlin is much-maligned in New York too, but CBS Sports Charley Casserly reported on Sunday that Coughlin's gig is safe ("he will be back") regardless of whether or not the Giants make the playoffs this season.

Casserly also broke down the status for the other guys -- Reid is the safest of the bunch by far.

"I expect Andy Reid to be back as head coach of the Eagles next year," Casserly reported on The NFL Today. "As far as defensive coordinator Juan Castillo, as of yesterday, no decision had been made. However, it is Andy Reid's total decision."

That could make for an interesting in-house argument in Philly. So could Caldwell's status as head coach, according to Casserly.

"There's strong sentiment in the building to bring him back because of how hard the Colts have played this year," Casserly told James Brown.


That's pretty shocking. The Colts have won two games in a row and are looking for three against Jacksonville but even the late-season run seemed like a classic case of too little, too late. Apparently Caldwell's still got a shot at saving his gig, which would be ironic, considering he'd probably have to lose out on Andrew Luck to do so.

Not having a shot? Spags and Norv, according to Casserly.

"I do not expect [Turner] to be back as head coach [of the Chargers], however, I look for him to get many opportunities as an offensive coordinator in the league," Casserly said.

One of those spots could be with the Jets, as we noted earlier when talking about Rex Ryan's candle-lighting that Norv's a candidate to replace Brian Schottenheimer, depending on how the dominos Sunday.

Spags is in a similar boat, Casserly reported, as he'll be out as head coach and chased by several teams as a coordinator.

"In St. Louis, expect changes to be made and Steve Spagnuolo to be out as head coach," Casserly said Sunday. "However, he will be a highly sought-after defensive coordinator next year."

To sum up: heads are going to roll in the offseason (just like every year). The question is just how many.


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Posted on: January 1, 2012 10:33 am
Edited on: January 1, 2012 12:51 pm
 

Ray Anderson's name keeps popping up for NFL jobs

 NFL VP Anderson at the draft.(US Presswire)
By Will Brinson

When we mention NFL VP Ray Anderson around these parts, it's typically involving some sort of disciplinary action regarding an illegal fine. But for the second time this season, Anderson's name is popping up in rumors for front-office jobs around the NFL.

This Sunday, Jason LaCanfora of the NFL Network reports that while Anderson currently "loves" his gig with the NFL, he's a candidate for any of the potential front-office jobs that open up. The Raiders, Rams and Chargers are notable spots that could experience a front-office shake-up.

Anderson played in the NFL, he was an NFL agent, he's worked with the NFLPA and now he's worked with the league. He's well-connected and obviously has management skills, since he runs football operations for the entire league.

As LaCanfora points out, Anderson could potentially become the first African American team president in NFL history and, as a "historian of the game," that's likely something that would intrigue him.

And there's this: NFL.com (the website of the company that employs Anderson) is rolling with "Teams eyeing Anderson" as the headline. With all due respect to the NFL for doing a great job of separating church and state (as it were), if the NFL tells us that teams are currently eyeing one of their employees, it's a pretty good bet that teams are currently eyeing one of its employees.

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Posted on: December 31, 2011 3:23 pm
 

For the gambler in you, Week 17

By Josh Katzowitz

Each week, we’ll take the best -- and most clever -- odds collected by Bovada for the upcoming week and give our take. This is important stuff, perhaps the most important post you’ll read all week. Because if you can’t lose money while watching a game in which you have absolutely no effect, what’s the point of watching sports at all?

Will the winner of the Giants vs. Cowboys game win their opening playoff game?   
    
Yes 5/7

No 6/5

Thanks to the handy help of our post-Week 16 playoff picture, we can tell you that the Giants-Cowboys winner will end up as the No. 4 seed. That means the victor will play either the Lions or the Falcons in the wild card round. If Detroit beats the Packers, the Lions would travel to the New Meadowlands or Cowboys Stadium, but if they lose to Green Bay and the Falcons beat the Buccaneers, it’d be Atlanta with the No. 5 seed. I favor the Falcons to be the No. 5 seed, and I’d favor the Giants, but not the Cowboys, to beat them. But if the Lions come through, I think they’d beat either squad.

All of that means I have no idea. But I guess I’d go “no,” if for no other reason than this is a game it just feels like the Cowboys and Giants would lose.

How many head coaches will be fired between Sunday, January 1st and the 1st Playoff game kicks off?

Over 3 (-140)

Under 3 (EVEN)

Well, Jack Del Rio, Tony Sparano and Todd Haley are already gone. Steve Spagnuolo, Raheem Morris and Norv Turner are soon to be (probably). I think Jim Caldwell will survive. As will Andy Reid. I guess the best way to approach this bet is to avoid it, because I don’t see more or less than three coaches getting axed.

Who will finish the 2012 regular season with more TD passes? (Note: Both quarterbacks are tied with 20 touchdowns)      

Cam Newton (CAR) QB 7/5       

Andy Dalton (CIN) QB 8/5       

Tie 7/4       

Newton faces the Saints, one of the worst pass defenses in the league. Dalton faces the Ravens, one of the best overall defenses in the NFL. Newton likely will spend much of his day throwing the ball because the Saints probably will jump out to a big lead. Dalton could be involved in a run-oriented, defensive game. Thus, go with Newton to throw more touchdown passes than Dalton.

Which team will win the Number 1 pick in the 2012 NFL draft?  

Indianapolis Colts 1/3

St. Louis Rams 2/1

The Rams play the 49ers, and St. Louis almost assuredly will lose. The Colts play host to the Jaguars, where Indianapolis, riding that two-game unbeaten streak, very well could win. I think the Rams take the No. 1 pick for next year and then trade it for a boatload of draft picks.

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Posted on: December 31, 2011 12:27 pm
 

Gruden says 'I'll be back at ESPN' next year

GrudenBy Josh Katzowitz

Rumors have been swirling the past few weeks that Jon Gruden will leave ESPN’s Monday Night Football set and return to the sidelines to coach in 2012.

Two of Mike Freeman’s sources told him recently that Gruden is indeed leaning toward coaching next season. As Freeman wrote, “Some of this might be semantics. I'm told Gruden wants to see what positions he could possibly get before making a 100 percent final decision and that he hasn't officially made one yet because of the uncertainty … And while I fully expect Gruden to issue a statement with some sort of non-denial/denial saying he's happy at ESPN, he's eyeing a return.”

And now we’ve got that non-denial/denial saying he’s happy at ESPN.

"I love my job and I'll be back at ESPN with the guys,'' Gruden told the Tampa Tribune. "I'm not going anywhere.”

The hottest rumor states that, assuming A.J. Smith is fired as general manager by the Chargers, the Rams will hire him and Gruden to help turn around that franchise. We’ve even got to the point of wondering whether Smith and Gruden would prefer Robert Griffin III or Andrew Luck at quarterback instead of Sam Bradford. Not so fast, Gruden said.

"I enjoy being with our ESPN team,'' Gruden said. "I'm staying put.”

But be advised to be wary of whatever Gruden says. After all, if you listen to former VP of officiating Mike Pereira, Gruden is a blowhard, and even more damning than that is when Gruden’s former quarterback, Shaun King, called him "inherently dishonest.”

Which means, I guess, that we still have no idea what Gruden ultimately wants. And probably won’t until the Rams (or some other squad) ultimately are in need of a new coach.

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Posted on: December 30, 2011 4:57 pm
Edited on: December 30, 2011 4:58 pm
 

Top Ten with a Twist: Draft needs

A. Luck should be a No. 1 selection in next year's draft. Who will select him, though (US Presswire).

By Josh Katzowitz

As we enter the final weekend of the season, a number of squads are just playing out the string, hoping to put a solid performance on film, ready to clean out their lockers and look ahead to next year. While only four games on this week’s schedule mean absolutely nothing in terms of the postseason, quite a few of those teams are just looking to play spoiler.

And looking to the 2012 draft, where they can begin to rebuild their team or shore up that one position that could put them over the hump for next season. That’s why we’re taking the 10-worst teams in the league this year and finding one major flaw that needs to be fixed from April 26-28 in New York City’s Radio Music Hall.

For these teams -- and their fans -- the time has come to salivate at the prospects of landing the exact right guy that could change their fortunes for years to come.

10. Bills: Defensive line -- I didn’t like the Ryan Fitzpatrick $59 million extension earlier this year, and I hate it now. But I think Buffalo has other concerns for the moment, and they come on defense. For one, Buffalo has a tough time stopping the run. First-round pick Marcell Dareus has been a bit inconsistent at the nose tackle, but he also has the ability to play like a monster. The 3-4  ends, though, need to be better. Injured tackle Kyle Williams obviously will help when he returns next season, but the ability to rush the passer once in a while also would help (Buffalo’s 25 sacks ranks 30th in the league).

9. Dolphins: Quarterback -- Look, the Dolphins have some talent. They proved that when Tony Sparano’s job was on the line, and they started winning games. They proved it by nearly beating Tom Brady, and they proved it by nearly beating Tim Tebow (that last point was a joke). While Matt Moore has been much better than expected after taking over for Chad Henne, he’s a Band-Aid. I think most of us would agree that Henne isn’t the answer as the starter, and perhaps, he and Moore could have a battle to see who could back-up a legit starting quarterback. Reggie Bush established himself as a 1,000-yard rusher, and with a talented quarterback like Robert Griffin III (if he lasts that long in the draft), the Dolphins could begin pushing for AFC East crowns.

8. Browns: Pass rushers -- Cleveland got two defensive linemen early last year (tackle Phil Taylor in the first round and end Jabaal Sheard in the second), and they’ve done a nice job on the left side of the defensive line. But the defense ranks 25th in the league in sacks, and defensive end Jayme Mitchell hasn’t had a great season. Marcus Benard, coming off a solid rookie season last year, is on IR, and if the Browns could get one more high-end rusher in the draft, they’d have talent and depth.

7. Redskins: Quarterback -- It’s probably time for Mike Shanahan to come to the realization that his quarterback picks the past two years have been disastrous (Donovan McNabb, Rex Grossman, John Beck). He said the other day that the rebuild of this franchise has taken more time than he thought, but a standout quarterback obviously would help that process along. Shanahan also said that there was no question in his mind that he’d be back next season, but unless he finds a way to invigorate his offense, that might be a different story this time next year.

6. Chiefs: Right tackle -- Looking across Kansas City’s depth chart, there’s not one position group that so obviously needs to be overhauled. The Chiefs have talent, even if some of those positions don’t have much depth. But right tackle Barry Richardson has badly struggled this season. According Pro Football Focus, Richardson is the worst-rated offensive tackle in the league (the decision to cut Jared Gaither near the end of the season was a bad one). Left tackle Branden Albert is solid, but the right side of the line needs to be reworked.

Minnesota's secondary has been a big concern this year (US Presswire).5. Buccaneers: Run defenders -- The Buccaneers tried to shore up their defensive end spots last draft, taking Adrian Clayborn in the first round and Da’Quan Bowers in the second round. Considering Tampa Bay ranks dead last in sacks, the experiment hasn’t paid off immediate dividends. But the Buccaneers are also terrible against the run, and even though tackle Albert Haynesworth has played better than most of us had a right to expect, there are still huge holes to fill in the lineup.

4. Vikings: Secondary -- The Vikings rank as the 31st-worst defense in the NFL, but in reality, their front seven has talent (for instance, Jared Allen, Kevin Williams and Chad Greenway). Minnesota lost Antoine Winfield (its best corner) early in the year, Chris Cook has legal troubles, safety Jamarca  Sanford has struggled badly and the rest of the safeties have been ravaged by injuries. It’s no  wonder opposing quarterbacks dominate the Vikings defensive backs. On the season, Minnesota has recorded seven interceptions, worst in the NFL. The Vikings need to find somebody who can force turnovers in order to improve this unit.

3. Jaguars: Receivers – Oh, how they need receivers. Yes, Blaine Gabbert has been, by far, the worst rookie quarterback to play this year, but Jacksonville, even with new ownership and a new coach, probably needs to give him more than a season to see if he’s a quarterback of the future. He also needs somebody who can catch his passes. Here are Jacksonville’s top-three receivers: Mike Thomas, Jarret Dillard, and yeah, nobody else. In fact, there’s a good chance running back Maurice Jones-Drew will end up as the team’s leading pass-catcher this season. Hard to blame Gabbert completely when his receiving corps is so bad.

2. Colts: Running backs -- Assuming Peyton Manning returns healthy next season -- admittedly, a huge assumption -- his receivers should continue to be fine (this, of course, depends on what happens with free agents Reggie Wayne and Pierre Garcon). But we’ve seen this year that without a running game, a Manning-less Colts squad has very little chance of doing anything (mostly because Manning makes up for SO many team deficiencies). Joseph Addai, who’s averaging 3.8 yards per carry and probably won’t get to 500 rushing yards on the season for the second year in a row, might be released into free agency, and Donald Brown, while improved, isn’t a legit No. 1 running back. The Colts obviously have a big decision to make regarding Manning and Andrew Luck, but taking a running back probably wouldn’t be a bad idea.

1.Rams: Offensive linemen -- There’s been talk that maybe the Rams should grab Luck if they end up with the No. 1 pick. Which, with Sam Bradford on the team, would be ludicrous. Instead, St. Louis should be focused on how to put together an offensive line that doesn’t lead the league in sacks allowed. The biggest problem, not including injuries to Jason Smith and Jacob Bell that have hurt the unit, has been the line’s interior. Linemen aren’t the sexiest position, but damn, St. Louis needs to find some that can stay healthy and keep Bradford and Steven Jackson out of danger.

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Posted on: December 29, 2011 11:35 am
 

Mike Pereira thinks Jon Gruden is a 'blowhard'

'Loudmouth' Gruden got ripped by Fox's Pereira for his rules analysis. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

As the former VP of Officiating for the NFL, Fox Sports analyst Mike Pereira's been able to provide some nice insight into the world of officiating from the angle of a broadcaster. But in his latest column, he decided to go meta and play the role of media critic, harshly ripping ESPN analyst and former Buccaneers coach Jon Gruden.

In Pereira's column, which is actually focused on Gruden, the Fox analyst calls Gruden a "blowhard" who was a "loudmouth" as a coach. Pereira then writes that he has "very little respect for [Gruden] when it comes to officiating and his knowledge of the rules."

So, um, yeah, it's a bit awkward. And it could get worse -- what happens if, as our own Mike Freeman reported, Gruden comes back to coaching and returns, hypothetically, to a team like the Rams?

They play in the NFC and their games are more likely to be aired on Fox, where Pereira could have the responsibility of objectively analyzing Gruden's challenges and the interpretation of NFL rules as they apply to Gruden's hypothetical future team.

Even though Pereira says he respects Gruden's "knowledge about X's and O's when it comes to coaching and playing the game of football," but it's difficult to believe that Pereira, who appears to hold a grudge dating from Gruden's coaching days, could do so.

Pereira's beef with Gruden's interpretation of the rules relates to helmet-to-helmet hits. It's pretty obvious that Gruden simply doesn't care for the new rules; by stating that he doesn't "understand how the games are officiated" Gruden's not actually speaking to his lack of knowledge of the rules. He's speaking to his distaste for the actual rules.

With Pereira, there's no question though. His distaste is with Gruden.

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Posted on: December 28, 2011 6:12 pm
Edited on: December 28, 2011 9:24 pm
 

Al Harris retires, says 'I had an awesome time'

HarrisBy Josh Katzowitz

A day after 37-year-old Dolphins defensive end Jason Taylor decided that it was time to retire, 37-year-old Rams cornerback Al Harris will follow suit.

Unlike Taylor, who said he’s unsure of what’s next for him, Harris knows exactly what he wants. He wants to coach football, according to Rapid Reporter Ron Clements.

On Wednesday, though, Harris, currently on season-ending injured reserve, thought back on his 14-year career that included two Pro Bowl appearances and a string of strong years playing in the Packers secondary.

“I had an awesome time,” Harris said. “I thank (Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo) for giving me an opportunity to come and help out. I hope I left a positive impression on everybody.”

He also took the time to defend Spagnuolo, who most likely is on his way out as St. Louis’ coach.

“Coaches can only coach,” he said. “I think Spags has done a great job of getting guys to buy in. That’s the hardest part when you’ve got a relatively young team. … Injuries, you can’t help. … My heart goes out to (Spagnuolo). I know how much work he’s put in.”

While Harris was a dependable player in his heyday, his last three years have ended with trips to the IR list. After he tackled Browns receiver Josh Cribbs on Nov. 13, he tore his ACL -- an ACL he’ll have repaired by surgery next month -- Harris decided it was time to say goodbye to pro football.

And he’s not going to change his mind.

“I’m going to come back to coach. I’ve got my mind made up about that,” he said. “Professionally, I hit every single goal I set out for myself. Now it’s time to turn the page and set a new set of goals.”

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com