Former Protégé, Steve Spagnuolo, Relishes The Challenge Eagles Present

By Frank Benditt III

Steve Spagnuolo spent eight years with the Philadelphia Eagles working under then-defensive coordinator Jim Johnson.  Johnson passed away in July of 2009 due to the diagnosis of melanoma.  Spagnuolo was one of his star pupils.

Entering his third year as head coach of the St. Louis Rams, Spanuolo has certain expectations of improvement.  Last year, the Rams went 7-9 finishing second in the NFC West.  This year, Spagnuolo has his eye on winning the division.  The division is wide open.  The Seattle Seahawks won the division last year, but many expect them to take a step back since they really do not have a credible quarterback.

Conversely, the Rams have a franchise quarterback, Sam Bradford.  He was the first overall pick in the 2010 draft.  His rookie season was very encouraging for Ram’s fans.  Bradford had over 3500 yds with 18 tds and 15 ints while completing 60% of his passes.

The Rams defense is a good unit and is led by former Eagle, safety Quintin Mikell.  Spagnuolo knows his defense will be challenged by the explosive Eagles offense.  He was quoted by writer, Dave Zangaro, saying, “we realize that this is one of the elite teams we’re playing. We have our hands full.”

Spagnuolo is smart.  He knows he has an advantage that he dare not speak of:  he knows Andy Reid’s tendencies.  Additionally, the Eagles offensive line is questionable at best.  The Birds have shuffled the lineman like a Vegas blackjack dealer.  Almost every lineman is learning a new position and the center is a rookie.

Michael Vick will be blitzed, often.  Spagnuolo will have unique schemes that will disguise the defense intentions.  Vick will have to be sharp.  One of Vick’s big weakness is defensive recognition.  The offensive line will need to be cohesive or Vick will be running for his life.

Steve Spagnuolo is chomping at the bit for this game.  He wants his team to make a statement.  The Eagles have a large target on their back.  Being a home game, Spagnuolo’s Rams will be looking to hit a bullseye.

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