There's no doubting that the St Louis Rams have taken a disastrous step backwards in Coach Spagnuolo's third year. How can we possibly build an argument to keep him? Bear with me while I explore some thoughts.
Wednesday, on his radio show, Bernie Miklasz outlined some very pragmatic reasons why Stan Kroenke might stick with Spagnuolo, including:
- There's still a year left on his contract.
- Replacing the GM might be the first move instead.
- You may not be able to bring in anyone better next year.
None of these are very satisfying, but they're all logical. But if Kroenke felt, as many angry Rams fans do, that there's just no chance of winning under Spagnuolo, then all of that logic gets blown out the window.
Reasons to say "Just fire the guy and move on."
To my mind the biggest reason to punt on Spagnuolo has nothing to do with his roster decisions or his record to date. The roster he has is playing hard, and with more talent or better luck with injuries, the record would be better by a certain measure. Neither of those are in his control.
“But wait!” you say. “He has final authority on the 53 man roster!” True, but talent acquisition is a slow process in the NFL, where you have three times as many competitors as in the fantasy football leagues we’re used to gaming. The Rams have more talent on their team now than they did three years ago, but not enough to compete with the Saints or Packers or even the Raiders in raw accumulation of skills.
The process is made slower by the fact that they have been drafting (John Greco, etc.) and signing (Ben Leber, etc.) system players that end up being poor fits for the system. Part of that failure is on the signing, and part is on the player. But those mistakes are made all over the NFL, not just here. (See: Haynesworth, Albert.)
Those mistakes are balanced by low-cost finds in Danny Amendola, Brandon Gibson, Darian Stewart and Josh Gordy that have blossomed in this system. Would I like to see them acquire more high-end talent? Yes. That was the approach in this year’s draft, which was much heavier on athletes (Quinn, Kendricks, Salas, Jabara) than in years past. That change is already underway. It has just been slow to pay off.
No, the biggest reason to doubt Spagnuolo, the biggest reason to believe that the Rams will never be able to win with him, is his appalling lack of gameday feel.