With the Combine on the slate for the next few days, I have a few thoughts on a player who was up for scrutiny in Indianapolis two years ago. The announcement a few weeks back that Steve Spagnuolo would be the next coach of the St. Louis Rams comes as very good news to fans of Brian Leonard.
Sure, that required Spags's departure from New York, but it was bound to happen sooner or later. The good part about him landing in St. Louis, is that the Rams now have a quality head coach in place. Linehan was a disaster for the entire franchise, but Leonard in particular suffered from his tenure.
There are two main schools of thought when it comes to NFL offensive playcalling. Either use more of a vertical passing game, and rely on a power rushing attack to control the clock; or do the latter with a short passing game. I still believe that Brian Leonard can contribute at tailback in the NFL out of multiple tight end sets. That's the role that Linehan coveted him for two years ago. Problem being, the entire St. Louis roster was in disarray, no more so than on the offensive line. Orlando Pace is in decline, they've had several high profile personnel busts, and the passing attack isn't exactly potent owing to age and injuries. After a solid 2007, Leonard was moved to fullback last year, even though Linehan's offense required more of a mauler at the position. His season quickly went downhill following a major shoulder injury.
Enter Spags. For the vacant offensive coordinator role, Spags looked back to his roots with the Eagles and hired top assistant Pat Shurmur to install the West Coast Offense. If Leonard is going to stick at fullback in the NFL, that's going to be an excellent fit for him. The Giants fans among us were very conflicted two years ago. The Eagles were by far the best possible fit for Leonard's skillset, but fortunately for us (or so we believed), the Rams swooped in just as the Eagles were set to grab him in the second round. With his soft hands, Brian is probably the ideal fullback for the West Coast Offense. It's almost as if Bill Walsh, apologetic for the whole Shea debacle, created the ideal WCO fullback for us as compensation.
Hell yes I want Leonard to turn into the next Larry Centers in 2009. Not only does he deserve (more than) a modicum of success, but I'm sick of getting ribbed for a season in which Leonard barely played due to several reasons largely out of his control. Godspeed Spags.