The Rams introduced Steve Spagnuolo as their new head coach on Monday, signaling the start of a new era in St. Louis. Spagnuolo, a defensive mastermind who learned under Eagles coordinator Jim Johnson for eight seasons, was credited as a major contributor in the New York Giants’ improbable win over the Patriots in Super Bowl XLII.
Spagnuolo’s presence should mean a dramatic improvement on the defensive side of the football, though the Rams defense still won’t come off the board in most 2009 fantasy drafts. It will also mean a change in offensive philosophies that could increase in the value of Steven Jackson.
Jackson, who suffered through an injury-plagued 2008 season, appears destined to be the centerpiece of the Rams offense.
“You’ve got to be able to run the football and protect the quarterback,” Spagnuolo said at his introductory press conference. “That doesn’t mean you run the football every snap, but I do believe you’ve got do those two things. We’ll build from there, and we won’t have a fancy name for it. We’ll just try to be successful at it.”
Spagnuolo will re-build from the inside out, meaning the construction an effective offensive line will be a top priority in his first season as the head man. That’s of course an advantage for Jackson, who has first-round talent but could slide into the second round of fantasy drafts because of his proneness to injuries.
While Spagnuolo’s commitment to protecting the quarterback is a positive for Marc Bulger, there’s little chance he’ll rebound and become a prominent fantasy option. This offense will look nothing like the one Mike Martz ran in his time with the team, so Bulger won’t be worth much more than a late-round selection.