CLEVELAND — The Cleveland Browns are continuing their search for assistant coaches to fill out the staff under new head coach Freddie Kitchens, and reportedly, the front office is making inquiries about former St. Louis Rams head coach and long-time NFL defensive assistant Steve Spagnuolo.
NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported the Browns have begun doing background work on Spagnuolo.
Spagnuolo spent the 2018 season out of football after serving as defensive coordinator/interim head coach for the New York Giants in 2017.
Before his elevation to interim head coach, Spagnuolo was the defensive coordinator for the Giants on two occasions (2007-2008, 2015-2017), as well as the top defensive coach for the New Orleans Saints (2012).
In his 20-plus years as an NFL coach, Spagnuolo has been a defensive assistant (1999-2000), secondary (2001-2003) and linebackers coach (2004-2006) for the Philadelphia Eagles, as well as a senior defensive assistant and secondary coach for the Baltimore Ravens in 2013 and 2014, respectively.
Prior to his NFL career, Spagnuolo spent 16 years in the college ranks and one season with the Barcelona Dragons (1992) in NFL Europe.
Spagnuolo was the defensive coordinator for the Giants’ team that spoiled an otherwise perfect season for the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII. Spagnuolo’s defense sacked Patriots quarterback Tom Brady five times in the game, the most of any contest the veteran quarterback played in that season.
Should the 59-year old Spagnuolo, a native of Whitinsville, Massachusetts, be hired as defensive coordinator, he will take over a side of the ball that will be well represented at the Pro Bowl later this month.
Second-year standout Myles Garrett became the first Browns defensive end to make the Pro Bowl since Rob Burnett in 1995, while cornerback Denzel Ward was the franchise’s sixth rookie selected for the postseason honor.
Fully healthy coming into his second NFL season, Garrett emerged as a leader for the Browns’ defense and registered 44 total tackles, including 35 solo stops, while playing in all 16 games for the team who selected him with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.
Of those 44 tackles, 13.5 were sacks on opposing quarterbacks for 75.5 lost yards.
With 20.5 sacks, Garrett registered the most by a Brown in the first 27 games of a career, as well as the most by a Cleveland defender in his first two professional seasons. This season, Garrett ranked sixth in the NFL with the 13.5 sacks and fourth in the AFC with four forced fumbles.
Garrett was the Browns’ first front seven defender to reach All-Pro status since linebacker Jamir Miller in 2001 and first defensive lineman since Michael Dean Perry made the AP All-Pro Team in 1994.
A two-time Pepsi Rookie of the Week (Weeks 1 and 5) and one-time AFC Special Teams Player of the Week (Week 5) honoree, Ward is among the AFC leaders with three interceptions.
The No. 4 overall pick of the Browns in the 2018 NFL Draft out of The Ohio State University, Ward ranked tied for second in interceptions and passes defended, tied for third in forced fumbles and tied for first with two fumble recoveries among first-year players.
In his 13 games with the Browns this season, Ward registered 53 total tackles, 41 solo stops and 12 assists along with three interceptions, which he returned for 26 yards, 14 passes defended, one forced fumble and two recoveries.