Today, ESPN reported that the St. Louis Rams are going to fire their general manager, Billy Devaney, and head coach Steve Spagnuolo. Now, I have been a Rams fan for well over a decade (and a Saints fan for about five years), but I think this is one of the worst decisions made by St. Louis, well since giving QB Sam Bradford $70 million.
First off, I do not care about general manager Devaney, but Spags was not the problem. Obviously, he has a losing record, 10-30 in three season, but look at what he inherited. Three years ago he took over a team that had no offense, a weak defense, and not much of a special teams. When Spags was brought to St. Louis, the majority of the supporting coaching staff remained (the Coordinators have been replaced over the past three years). That was mistake number one. Spags should have been able to build a new coaching staff.
The second mistake made by the Rams was in 2010. The drafting of Sam Bradford excited Rams fans for a few months, but it became apparent that the offensive line was still weak. A high price QB is nothing without an offensive line. The problem? Bradford’s high price tag tied the hands of the Rams. They could not afford any big name players and RB Steven Jackson needs help.
The third issue came with the issue over the Rams ownership shortly after Spags’ arrival in St. Louis. The turmoil certainly made things much more difficult for the coaching staff, players, and general management.
Finally, lets look back. Dick Vermiel was an impressive coach, but was only in St. Louis from 1997 – 1999. Mike Martz had a good record…at first, but once the “dreamteam” broke up, he left in 2005. Since then, the Rams have gone through (counting Spags) four head coaches, Joe Vitt (2005), Scott Linehan (2006-2008), Jim Haslett (2008), and Spags (2009-2011). Do you see a trend? They obviously are impatient with their coaching staff. These head coaches could not work a miracle, but life is not like The Little Giants. A team made up of mostly mediocre players will lose games in the NFL.
The Rams have had a dismal decade and have gone through a number of coaching changes. Instead of placing the blame on Steve Spagnuolo, the Rams need to accept the fact that they have multiple problems. They do not have enough big name players, they lack proper management, and they gambled on a QB that limited their cash to acquire other players.
Everyone likes to blame the head coach for a teams failures, but there are almost always a variety of problems. Problems that the head coach has no control over.
I blame the general managent and the owner, Stan Kroenke (along with previous owners), for not knowing how to manage the team’s money, roster, and coaching staff. I was not thrilled when I learned Kroenke was taking majority stake in the team because his interests are spread too thin (he also owns Denver Nuggets of the NBA, Colorado Rapids of Major League Soccer, Colorado Avalanche of the NHL, Colorado Mammoth of the National Lacrosse League). If changes are not made in the management, Rams fans are going to continue to use the head coach as a scapegoat and they are going to continue to the trend of replacing the head coach every few years.
UPDATE: It’s official. Rams owner E. Stanley Kroenke issued the following statement this morning.
“I would like to personally thank Steve and Billy for their dedication to the St. Louis Rams organization over the past several seasons. This was a difficult decision for many reasons. We have tremendous respect for Steve and Billy as people and football professionals.
“No one individual is to blame for this disappointing season and we all must hold ourselves accountable. However, we believe it’s in the best interest of the St. Louis Rams to make these changes as we continue our quest to build a team that consistently competes for playoffs and championships. We wish Steve, Billy and their families the very best in the future and thank them again for their commitment to our organization and the city of St. Louis.”