SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Steve Spagnuolo is back in the Super Bowl, where the Kansas City Chiefs‘ defensive coordinator often does his best work.
His game plan against the New England Patriots 15 years ago spoiled Bill Belichick’s perfect season. And his tactics in Super Bowl 54 throttled a 49ers offense that ranked second in points that year.
So you can be sure he’ll have something special cooked up for Jalen Hurts and the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday.
Then if the Chiefs return to the big game for the fourth time in five years, 12 months from now, Spags will be a big reason why. And perhaps by that point, someone will finally realize he deserves at least consideration to once again lead a team of his own.
Will Steve Spagnuolo Ever Be a Head Coach Again?
Spagnuolo has nearly a quarter-century of NFL coaching experience, the last four as the Chiefs’ defensive coordinator.
Like any career, Spagnuolo has had ups and downs. And certainly, a low point of his career was from 2009-2011 when he was the head coach of the then-St. Louis Rams. He lost 38 of 48 games during those three seasons, including 14 of 16 in 2011, which sealed his fate.
Spagnuolo didn’t fare much better as the Giants’ interim coach in 2017, losing three of four. And that, in terms of his time as an NFL head coach, was probably that.
An uninspiring body of work, Spagnuolo’s age (63) and his area of expertise (defense) are likely a triple whammy. Five teams had openings this cycle. Spagnuolo didn’t get a single interview.
That’s unfortunate. Because he, at the very least, deserves a chance to show he’s not the same coach now that he was more than a decade ago.
“The people that make that decision, they’ve got to make that decision for their own organization,” Spagnuolo said on Wednesday. “I’m eager. If it happens, it’ll be a great thing. If not, I’m content working here for the Chiefs.”
Spagnuolo has told the same to almost anyone who’s asked this week.
“We’re prideful guys, so you want a chance to prove you’re better than the way you finished,” he told the Giants’ website. “I enjoyed it. As hard as it was in New York that last month, I enjoyed representing the Giants as the head football coach.”
He also pointed out that many failed coaches learn from their mistakes and do a better job if given a second chance. That — and Spagnuolo’s undeniable defensive chops — are the arguments for him getting another HC job.
But he knows the arguments against it as well. He agreed with a reporter’s premise that Kansas City’s defense gets overlooked because of the performance of the Chiefs’ offense. He knows that age works against him.
Plus, it’s true that not every coordinator — no matter how good — is cut out to be an NFL head coach. And it’s possible that the deck is stacked against defensive coaches simply because the league is so skewed toward offenses.
“Most guys in the organizations that are decision-makers, sometimes they go opposite of what they were before,” Spagnuolo said. “Sometimes they look at another team, ‘Oh, they went in that direction. We have to do the same thing.’ They make their decisions. I let the good Lord above take care of it. If it happens, great. If not, I’m OK with it.”