Spagnuolo works outside his comfort zone in building staff…

Soon after the Rams hired Scott Linehan as their Head Coach in 2006, it became apparent that, as he assembled his staff, he was putting together a group of old buddies to coach the team with him.

Offensive coordinator Greg Olson had grown up in the same area. Running backs coach Wayne Moses was a buddy from Washington, Linehan had coached quarterbacks coach Doug Nussmeier at Idaho. He had worked with Brian Baker in Minnesota and tight ends coach Judd Garrett at Miami. While Linehan hadn’t had a prior relationship with Jim Haslett, the defensive coordinator brought in his guys to coach the defense. All in all, when combined with the acquisition of players like Corey Chavous, Gus Frerotte, Adam Goldberg, Donnie Jones, Rich Owens, Travis Minor and Raonall Smith, among others…many people in Rams Park became known as FOSL’s…Friends of Scott Linehan.

Fast forward to 2009. Linehan was fired four games into the ’08 season, and Steve Spagnuolo has replaced him. It’s been interesting to watch Spagnuolo put together HIS staff. His first hire was a FOSS…a Friend of Steve Spagnuolo…in offensive coordinator Pat Shurmer. The two had worked together in Philadelphia for eight years. After that, it appears as if Spagnuolo has taken a “best man wins” approach.

Defensive coordinator Ken Flajole, coming from Carolina, had never worked with Spagnuolo. Neither had Dick Curl, Assistant Head Coach/Quarterbacks, who most recently was in Kansas City, wide receivers coach Charlie Baggett, defensive coach Paul Ferraro or offensive coach Frank Leonard.

Most recently, Spagnuolo has hired two of the most respected assistants in all of football in former Green Bay running backs coach Sylvester Croom (former Head Coach at Mississippi State) and former Packer strength coach Rock Gullickson. Ironically, with those two and administrative assistant Bruce Warwick, there’s more of a Green Bay flavor on the Rams’ staff than Eagles or Giants.

To be transparent, Ferraro was a college mate of Spagnuolo’s, and defensive coach Andre Curtis was on the staff with the Giants.

My point is this…on the last staff, it was fair to question whether or not the best man got the job, or if he got it because he was a friend of the head coach. Now, the way Spagnuolo has built his staff, it seems pretty clear that he’s after the best assistants he can get. And THAT is how you win in the NFL, with a staff that can develop unpolished players, and make good players great.