Spagnuolo closes in on coordinators

Thursday, January 22, 2009

ST. LOUIS -- Steve Spagnuolo is moving quickly to fill out his coaching staff.

Several reports on Wednesday said the new St. Louis Rams coach was about to name Pat Shurmur as offensive coordinator. And, Spagnuolo was reportedly on the verge of hiring Ken Flajole to run the defense.

Rams spokesman Rick Smith said no deal was in place for either position.

Shurmur, 43, has been with the Eagles since 1999. He began in Philadelphia as tight ends coach, but has spent the past seven years coaching quarterbacks. He was a finalist for the head coaching job at Michigan State, his alma mater, in 2006, before that job went to Mark Dantonio.

Flajole, 54, is a veteran NFL assistant, most recently as linebackers coach at Carolina.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the Philadelphia Inquirer both reported that Shurmur was expected to go to the Rams. The Post-Dispatch and the Charlotte Observer reported that Flajole appeared headed to St. Louis.

Spagnuolo and general manager Billy Devaney are both in Mobile, Ala., this week for the Senior Bowl, where they were expected to interview several prospective coaches. Devaney told the Rams' website,, that both Shurmur and Flajole are being considered as coordinators, but did not elaborate.

Shurmur was an all-conference center and team captain at Michigan State in the 1980s, then was an assistant coach for the Spartans for 10 seasons. He spent one season as offensive line coach at Stanford before joining the Eagles in 1999.

As quarterbacks coach he helped Donovan McNabb earn three of his five Pro Bowl berths.

Flajole has been credited with developing several top-tier linebackers at Carolina, including Will Witherspoon, who has spent the past three seasons in St. Louis. He began his career at Wenatchee (Wash.) Community College in 1973. His first NFL job was with the Packers in 1998. He coached in Seattle from 1999 to 2002 before joining Carolina in 2003. His collegiate coaching career included a stint at Missouri from 1989 to 1993.

Devaney told the Post-Dispatch the Rams have sought permission to interview Minnesota special teams coach Paul Ferraro. Like Spagnuolo, Ferraro is 49. They were teammates at Springfield (Mass.) College.

The Rams have told Al Saunders he is out after one season as offensive coordinator, a source close to the team confirmed.

Smith said none of the Rams' defensive coaches are expected to return. That includes Jim Haslett, the defensive coordinator who took over as interim coach when Scott Linehan was fired after an 0-4 start.

Some offensive coaches are still under contract and could be back, but all are free to speak with other teams, Smith said.

Just a little over a year after the death of longtime owner Georgia Frontiere, the Rams are taking on a whole new look after two disastrous seasons -- St. Louis is 5-27 since the start of 2007. This season, St. Louis was 2-14, lost its final 10 straight, and ranked 27th in offense, 28th in defense.

Team president John Shaw and president of football operations Jay Zygmunt resigned in December, and Devaney, hired a year ago, was promoted to GM and put in charge of player personnel decisions including the draft, free agent acquisitions, trades and other transactions. He interviewed Haslett and four other finalists before choosing Spagnuolo, who comes to St. Louis after two seasons as defensive coordinator for the Giants.

Frontiere's children, Chip Rosenbloom and Lucia Rodriguez, are now majority owners of the Rams.

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