Hard Knocks premiered this week on HBO, and Rams fans might be wondering if hiring Steve Spagnoulo over Rex Ryan was the right decision.
You watched it right? The HBO show that goes behind the scenes of one NFL training camp premiered on Wednesday night. And it was spectacular.
They selected the New York Jets to profile in 2010 for a litany of reasons: LaDainian Tomlinson's first season out of San Diego; the contract drama surrounding Darrelle Revis; Mark Sanchez's devastating handsomeness... but the biggest reason, figuratively and literally? Rex Ryan.
The Jets head coach, son of defensive guru Buddy Ryan, took New York and the NFL by storm in 2009. He was a throwback to the days when the NFL wasn't an antiseptic machine forcing every personality into lockstep, monotone press conferences and horribly un-entertaining, well, everything. You didn't not have an opinion on Rex. He rivaled Tiger Woods for back-page coverage on the tabs. He was in your face and not going anywhere.
In short—he was MADE to be on Hard Knocks.
Let's flashback to the end of the 2008 season. The Rams had mercifully ended the Scott Linehan era and were on the lookout for the new coach. Along with several other teams that weren't in the toilet. Most insiders had Steve Spagnuolo, then the defensive coordinator of the NY Giants Super Bowl team, as the hottest commodity on the open market. As the hiring process began, Spags was a long shot for the Rams job. He seemed destined for a better situation than St. Louis.
Meanwhile, here in Ram country, we kept hearing rumblings of Rex Ryan as the leading candidate for the gig. I can remember thinking to myself that Rex Ryan was not the guy this team needed. I might have even gone so far as to say anybody BUT Rex Ryan.
An hour on HBO proved, as if we needed proof, that I'm an idiot.
Not only that, but I wonder how much further along this franchise would be with Rex Ryan as the face and voice of such a morbid team.
Spags may turn out to be a great coach. He may end up with one of the worst winning percentages in his first two years on the job ever. Time will tell. But since the departure of Mike Martz, the Rams' most glaring deficiency has been personality. They don't have a face to gravitate to. They don't have a personality that makes you skip the Cardinal coverage and move right to the Rams. They don't have a guy that can command national attention, and they barely have a guy that can command actual Rams fans' interest.
Mike Martz you have an opinion on. Steve Spagnoulo, I'm afraid, you do not.
So take the X's and O's out of this. You saw how 'Sexy Rexy' interacted with his team. With the media. With his front office from the bottom up. Are you going to tell me that you wouldn't rather have this guy building your team? You wouldn't be more interested in what he's up to? Wouldn't feel more confident that these guys are going to at least try to whip some ass come Sunday?
Ultimately, time will tell if Spags was the right choice. Hell, he was a major coup as little as 14 months ago. But only an hour into seeing how Rex Ryan does his job I can't shake this feeling that he's not only perfect for New York City and its Jets, but that he could have been perfect for a fan base here in St. Louis that is starving for some excitement. And heck, if you wanted to throw in the fact that Ryan took a team not expected to be in the playoffs and got them very close to a Super Bowl in his first season? Well that's just icing on the cake.
I can't say that the Rams hired the wrong guy.
But I know that Hard Knocks is going to do nothing to persuade me otherwise.