Should the Philadelphia Eagles consider Steve Spagnuolo for their defensive coordinator position? In surprising news, Spags was fired by Sean Payton and the Saints yesterday.
I wanted to put this out there because I can’t believe there hasn’t been more talk of bringing Spags back to Philly. Last year at this time, after he was fired in St. Louis, he was the hot topic around here to replace Juan Castillo as our defensive coordinator.
Once I heard the news last night, I was expecting Eagles fans to start clamoring for Spags again, but that doesn’t appear to be what’s happening.
Why is that?
Is it because his defense in New Orleans was historically bad last season? Is it because he’s a 4-3 guy and all signs from Chip Kelly are pointing towards installing a 3-4 scheme? Because of his bad season with the Saints and now being relieved from two jobs in consecutive years, has he just lost his luster as a coach?
Is everyone really settled in on Ed Donatell as our next DC (rumors and reports have him as Chip’s guy)?
I see Donatell as an “okay” DC prospect, but I certainly don’t view him as a “must have” guy. I researched him the other day as part of an article to see where his defenses ranked during his seven years as a DC in Green Bay and Atlanta, here’s what they were:
- 2000 – 15 in total yards, 14th in points against
- 2001 – 12th in yards 5th in points
- 2002 – 12th in yards, 12th in points
- 2003 – 17th in yards, 11th in points
- 2004 – 14th in yards, 4th in points
- 2005 – 22nd in yards, 18th in points
- 2006 – 22nd in yards, 15th in points
Those numbers are mediocre…not great but not that bad. His defenses looked better when checking the sacks and INT stats. In his four years in Green Bay, all four seasons his defense was in the top 10 in interceptions and three of the four years he was in the top 10 in sacks (and never ranked worse than 14th in points against).
Those numbers make Donatell look a little more appealing, but overall I see him as just an okay candidate. I won’t be disappointed if he’s the guy, but he’s not overly exciting either.
Spags has the Philly connection and is the type of guy Eagles fans can get behind.
He originally came to the Eagles in 1999 as part of Andy Reid’s initial staff. He worked under Jim Johnson as an assistant coach and worked his way up from defensive assistant to defensive backs coach, and then to linebackers coach.
In 2006, when Eagles offensive coordinator Brad Childress took the head coaching job in Minnesota, he wanted Spagnuolo as his defensive coordinator. However, Andy Reid refused to let him out of his contract in Philadelphia.
Reid wasn’t trying to just block Spags from a promotion, he just recognized that Spagnuolo was a good, ascending coach and viewed him as Jim Johnson’s replacement if Johnson was to leave for a head coaching job.
In 2007, Reid gave permission for the Giants to interview him and Spags ended up leaving to become the DC in New York.
He took over a Giants defense that ranked 25th in the NFL in 2006. In his first season as the head man on defense, he improved the unit all the way up to a No. 7 ranking, including an NFL-best 53 sacks.
Spagnuolo’s inaugural season as defensive coordinator culminated with a Super Bowl victory in which his defense shut down the explosive, and then undefeated, New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII.
Quite a rookie debut, I’d say.
Spagnuolo kept the Giants’ defense playing at a high level in 2008 and ended the season as the No. 5 ranked defense. Two stellar seasons as a coordinator catapulted him into a head coaching job for the St. Louis Rams.
After a miserable three-years in St. Louis where he accumulated just a 10-38 record, Spags was fired. Andy Reid tried to convince him to come back to Philly for something Reid referred to as a “spot on the staff” (not as a DC in title) but Spags wanted to be the guy in charge.
So he took a job with the Saints who were entrenched in a season of turmoil due to “Bountygate” and had a terrible year. With everything that was going on in New Orleans last season, in my mind I can erase what kind of job Spags did or didn’t do.
Basically, I can give him a mulligan for 2012.
With all that said, I’m not saying that Spags should be our next DC. I’m very intrigued by the idea of switching to a 3-4 style of defense and at this point, I think that’s the way to go.
All of Spags’ experience is as a 4-3 guy so if Kelly is adamant about a 3-4, Spags will not be the guy to run it. If Kelly is still considering keeping a 4-3 (or even some hybrid form), then he should at least interview Spags to see if they’re a good fit.
At this point, I’d be okay with or without Spags as our next DC. I’m just surprised there isn’t more scuttlebutt about the possibility given how most of Philly would have given their left arm for him one year ago.