Following a 34-27 loss to San Francisco today in their final game of the season, the Rams organization have decided to fire head coach Steve Spagnuolo and general manager Billy Devaney after the team finished the 2011-12 NFL season with a 2-14 record, including a 0-6 record in the NFC West.
Devaney started off with the organization back in 2008 when he served as vice president of pro personnel and was promoted to general manager late in the year. He would make the decision to hire Steve Spagnuolo as head coach, bringing him over from the New York Giants, where he served as defensive coordinator from 2007-08. Spagnuolo decided to take the job with the Rams after having time to consider offers from the Denver Broncos, New York Jets and Detroit Lions.
This was only the beginning of the changes coming to the Rams front office during Devaney’s time there, which includes the controversial decision of hiring former Denver Broncos head coach Josh McDaniels as offensive coordinator, who was formerly served in that position for the New England Patriots. He would also hire Ken Flajole as defensive coordinator.
Spagnuolo’s first season as head coach during the 2009-2010 season would not be a successful one, finishing the season 1-15. The team didn’t perform well, as the team was in rebuilding and there were several players out with injuries, including running back Steven Jackson and defensive end Chris Long. This would give the Rams the very first pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, in which they drafted quarterback Sam Bradford from the University of Oklahoma.
After some wise playmaking from Spagnuolo and staff, the Rams would be in the race to win the NFC West divisional berth with only seven wins, but would fall short of the 2010-11 NFL postseason after losing to the Seattle Seahawks, who also finished the regular season at 7-9. Bradford would become Offensive Rookie Of The Year for the season, finishing with a 60% completion percentage, 18 touchdowns and 15 interceptions.
The 2011-12 season would not turn out well, as Bradford was out with hand and ankle injuries for most of the season, as Kellen Clemens and A.J. Feeley swapped QB duties for the majority of the season. Bradford would only complete 191 passes for 2,164 yards with six touchdowns and six interceptions. With an offensive that appears confused and Jackson carrying most of the offensive load with some assistance from Danario Alexander and Cadillac Williams and a defense standing flat in their tracks like a deer in the headlights, the Rams couldn’t win a single game in the NFC West.
Spagnuolo will leave the Rams with a 10-38 record, while the rumors swirl around on what further fallout will come forth, whether or not McDaniels and other staff will be fired and who will be head coach for the 2012-13 season and where they sit at on their draft picks in the 2012 NFL Draft. Perhaps this is a changing of the guard that could turn the organization around and once again become a playoff contender? Only time can tell.
UPDATE 10:24 AM 1/2/2012: The Rams have released their press release confirming the firings of Spagnuolo and Devaney. The search for a new head coach and general manager are underway, while the Rams have the second overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft.
UPDATE 4:49 PM 1/2/2012: There was a press conference held by the Rams at 3:30 PM CST, with Executive Vice President of Football Operations Kevin Demoff addressing the firings of Spagnuolo and Devaney to the press. Former coach Dick Vermeil and former running back Marshall Faulk have been brought in as consultants in the search for a new head coach, one of which includes former Tennessee Titans head coach Jeff Fisher. Demoff stated that all coaching personnel, except offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, will have their contracts honored until February.