Did Spags Spurn the Jets?

With Steve Spagnuolo headed to St. Louis, that can mean one of two things. Because of the clandescent method of coaching searches and interviews, we may never find out the true story. But the former Giant defensive coordinator was definitely on the Jets radar and rumored to be one of the finalists, along with Ravens defensive coordinator Rex Ryan.

Spags is now off to St. Louis. (Bill Menzel/NYSD)
Spags is now off to St. Louis. (Bill Menzel/NYSD)

In the past few days, reports were that the Jets were leaning towards Ryan after they sat down together for five hours recently. With Baltimore facing Pittsburgh on Sunday in the AFC Championship Game, the Jets cannot officially sign him, even if they have already made a ‘wink-wink’ agreement. If that is the case, then they may have informed Spagnuolo that they were headed in a different direction.

But just couldn’t there have been a chance that ‘Spags’ either turned down the Jets or simply felt that the Rams job was more appealing? Of course, money and length of contract come into play, but without insider information we have to make our own conclusions.

As first reported by the NFL Network’s Adam Schefter, Spagnuolo signed a four-year, $11.5 million contract with St. Louis, who is coming off a 2-14 season. They lost their last 10 games and besides running back Steven Jackson, defensive end Chris Long and wideout Donnie Avery, their roster isn’t exactly filled with much promise. They do have the second overall pick in the upcoming NFL Draft and will be looking to upgrade an offense that averaged a meager 14.5 points per game, low enough to finish tied for 30th in the league.

Following their ‘Greatest Show on Turf’ run with Kurt Warner, the Rams have run into some hard times. They haven’t had a winning season since 2003 and snuck into the playoffs a year later at 8-8. They have been on a steady downfall since and cannot have been that attractive from a personnel standpoint to the Massachusetts native. But he did take the job and one of his former players had nothing but praise for him. “He is one of those coaches that has certain attributes about him that you can’t replace,” said Giants defensive end Justin Tuck.

Perhaps the Jets were leaving Spagnuolo hanging without a definite answer and he wanted to ensure a big payday before his star ran out. That may certainly be the case, but it’s also easy to speculate that he wanted nothing to do with a franchise that has had a black cloud hanging over it for then past 40 years.

Who would know that better than someone associated with a team that plays in the same stadium, the one that it was built for and named after? The stigma of not having their own identity will continue when the new stadium opens in 2010, one that will have a neutral corporate name but ultimately be called the “new Giants Stadium” by fans and scribes alike.

Over the years, regardless of who was the head coach or on the field, the Jets have made crushing defeats and disappointment a part of their culture. The mere mention of names such as Bill Simpson, A.J. Duhe, Vance Joseph or Rich Kotite will bring a litany of choice words from anyone who has bled Jet green over the long years. If you were in Spagnuolo’s shoes and had a choice, would you be rushing over to the ‘Same old Jets?’

With an unsettled quarterback situation and coming off a December collapse in which they lost four of their final five games, the Jets have many questions heading into the offseason. That had to make some type of impact on Spagnuolo when he was sitting down being interviewed by Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum.

This may all be a moot point if the Jets end up with a candidate that they wanted all along. But speculation such as this may have some legs to it.

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