Late Monday night, Florio posted on a report that Jon Gruden and A.J. Smith could be headed to St. Louis as part of a package deal to replace Steve Spagnuolo and Billy Devaney as coach and general manager.
That report by Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune also offered some information about Spagnuolo’s possible landing spot if he is relieved of his duties with the Rams. Per Acee, league sources are saying it is “all but certain” that Spagnuolo would return to Philadelphia as part of Andy Reid’s coaching staff as defensive coordinator.
Spagnuolo served as a defensive assistant under the late Jim Johnson from 1999-2006 when he left to run the defense for the Giants. His return would spell an end to the Juan Castillo experiment, obviously, and would signal a return to the blitz-happy system that Johnson ran while he was in charge of the Eagles defense.
That would be a big shift from the system put in place by Castillo and defensive line coach Jim Washburn this season. The “Wide-9” scheme favors creating pressure by rushing four men, so a return by Spagnuolo would likely necessitate installing a whole new approach for the second straight season. The Eagles have shown marked improvement defensively in the last few weeks, but the early season struggles could still lead to a move back to a more familiar system come 2012.
Should Spagnuolo get fired in St. Louis, there figure to be plenty of teams interested in bringing him aboard to help their defense. Whether or not Philly is at the front of that list remains to be seen.