What a new culture means to Rams' Spagnuolo

March, 25, 2009
3/25/09
1:35
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

DANA POINT, Calif. -- We'll have more Rams fans resurfacing if coach Steve Spagnuolo and the new leadership can turn around the organization.

In the meantime, Cardinals fan HornerJD50 provided a Rams-related question (see comments here) for the NFC coaches' breakfast media session Wednesday morning at the NFL owners' meeting.

HornerJD50: Much was made about the Cardinals' losing culture last year, and while the Rams don't have the long history of losing like the Cardinals, recently that's all they have been doing. What is Spags' step-by-step process in changing the culture of his franchise?

HornerJD50 also asked about what traits the Rams would value in a potential successor for quarterback Marc Bulger. I didn't get to that subject, figuring Spagnuolo would dance around it, anyway. I did ask about the culture part. Spagnuolo provided a thoughtful answer.

Spagnuolo: What it means to me is figuring out the character of the people that are in the building. And I'm not talking about just players and coaches, but the whole building. I think this will be a whole organizational effort [and] goal. And I really believe that the people in the building at Rams Park, everybody is headed in the right direction. It's easy right now. It's a honeymoon period. It's new. The test will be a year from now, depending on how the season goes. Will we still be able to feel that way? There is always an element of that throughout the building in order to get everybody headed in the same direction and have a chance at success.

It begins with the players. What I learned most in this league is veteran leadership is tremendously key. We'll try to identify those leaders on our team and hopefully they'll step to the forefront in those tough times that you know you are going to have on no matter what team in the league in a 16-game season. I remember vividly going through it in Philadelphia and I remember Brian Dawkins, Jeremiah Trotter and Donovan McNabb at a certain point in the season deciding, 'Hey, guys.' They did little things with the other players, very unseen things, but they made a big difference in us turning it around.

The Rams have parted with a long list of veteran players since Spagnuolo took over, including Torry Holt, Anthony Becht, Orlando Pace, Drew Bennett, Trent Green and Corey Chavous. The team has gone from being one of the five oldest in the league to being one of the five youngest.

I raised that fact with Spagnuolo. He said sometimes established players must leave before new leaders can feel comfortable emerging. I thought back to a recent conversation with cornerback Ron Bartell. We'll find out if he's one of the new leaders.

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