Earlier this week our friends at SBNation.com listed the five NFL coaches most likely to get fired once this season ends. SBN's Joel Thorman opined that Steve Spagnuolo of the St. Louis Rams was No. 1 on that list and Tom Coughlin of the New York Giants was No. 5.
Which leads to an obvious question. If both of those scenarios were to unfold would Spagnuolo be the right choice to replace Coughlin with the Giants?
I know many fans have campaigned for that, and if that doesn't happen you would at least like to see Spagnuolo return to the Giants to reprise his highly successful stint as the team's defensive coordinator.
For some thoughts on Spagnuolo's tenure as Rams coach, and his suitability as a possible future head coach of the Giants, I turned to someone who has watched Spagnuolo closely during the past three seasons. Ryan Van Bibber of SB Nation's Rams website, Turf Show Times, and he sounds decidely unimpressed with Spagnuolo's work during his three seasons in St. Louis.
Here is what Van Bibber wrote in an e-mail seeking his perspective on Spagnuolo:
I don't think Spagnuolo could handle the NY media. Expectations in St. Louis proved to be too much, and he maintains tight control over the Rams. One thing that has troubled Rams fans is a lack of accountability for the 2-12 season. Other teams have overcome injuries to play well, but not the Rams.
Spags plays a conservative game plan, very conservative. He punts on fourth-and-1 in the third quarter, despite being down and owning a 2-12 record. It's maddening. Still learning the nuances of clock management in his third season as a head coach, probably not a highlight on your resume. He still has the defensive mind that made him famous with the Giants. He's struggled with the other parts of the defense in St. Louis, particularly the run defense. The linebackers have played worse despite the team spending some free agent cash to upgrade the outside.
Spags is a pretty even-tempered guy, at least publicly. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? With the loses piling up, fans in St. Louis are getting awfully sick of the same talking points every week, and the insistence that they stick to whatever plan it is that has them where they are now.
As far as what's happening with the Rams, take away the injuries, and I think the biggest problem is just a lack of identity & vision for the team. A head coach needs to be able to tie all of that together, congruence among all facets of the team. Spags has had a tremendous amount of control over the organization, even to the point where he's fired support/front office personnel. That's a tremendous responsibility for a new head coach.
The Rams have gone 1-15, 7-9 and now 2-12 in Spagnuolo's three seasons, for a combined 10-36 record. The distressing part of that is the slide from being decent a season ago to awful this year -- something that has never happened to the Giants under Coughlin's direction.
SB Nation's Thorman sees that as the primary reason Spagnuolo is likely to get the boot.
Reports are already stating that the Rams plan to "blow things up" in the front office and coaching staff, which isn't a major surprise. The Rams are 2-12 on the season and they should be much better. I'm not saying this is a team with Super Bowl talent but they won seven games last year and have a competent quarterback -- a two-win season shouldn't happen.
Is Spagnuolo simply in an impossible situation in St. Louis? Or, is he at least somewhat at fault for the Rams falling apart this season?
Here is a more relevant question for Giants' fans who have supported Spagnuolo as a potential future head coach with the Giants. Has any of what happened in St. Louis soured you on the idea of Spagnuolo possibly replacing Coughlin?