As I write this I am fully aware and prepared that this will be the least popular and poorly received post I have written to date. I considered penning it under a stage name as to protect myself and family from further persecution and shame. Yet as I put pen to paper, rather keystroke to computer these words appear before me…keep head coach Steve Spagnuolo.
I am well aware the numbers and every piece of data imaginable are against me. Through 42 games Spagnuolo has only won 10 and the 2011 Rams are at the bottom of the league in well, pretty much everything. Taking into account that 2009 was considered by most a wash year. Spganuolo inherited absolute garbage of a roster most notable a quarterback choice between battered-quarterback-syndrome Marc Bulger and Kyle Boller. Using this logic that gives Spags one good year and one bad year completely on him.
Meaning 2012 would be the rubber-match year in his head coaching career. Is he the head coach that improved a one win team by six wins in a single year earning coach of the year type praise? Or is Spags the coach who took a seven win team and drove them right into the gutter? In reality he is both.
Everyone, myself included, was so quick to praise after a strong 2011. The defense finished in the top 10 in sacks and Sam Bradford won the offensive rookie of the year and league wide praise. Now everyone, myself included, has lined him up for the firing squad in the midst of what truly is total and complete failure of a season. Are we really that short sighted? Did we all forget that less than a year ago the very same head coach had the Rams one win away from the NFC West title?
While 2010 does not excuse this season’s failures, at the same time the short comings of the 2011 Rams should not wash away last year’s success. It’s a mind bender I know. But one that deserves serious thought.
For example, Sunday’s loss to Seattle featured a terrible offensive game plan offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. In his first year of installing a new and complex offense McDaniels was given little time to prepare and work with his new players. Not to mention installing his new schemes into the Rams offense required Sam Bradford to not only learn another new system but new players as well.
Aside from Steven Jackson nearly every target of his is new to him. Injuries are not an excuse but also cannot be ignored. Danny Amendola went down, Marc Clayton has been around for one game and Lance Kendricks, Austin Pettis, Greg Salas and Brandon Lloyd are all new to Sam. And before he was mercifully let go so was Mike Sims-Walker.
Bradford and the offense did their best to get together during the lockout but most of those parts were either hurt or gone before the season even got underway. And to that point, another issue on frustration for many is the fact that McDaniels did not bring in a quarterback’s coach to work with Sammy franchise. Well, get a QB coach and bring him in early and let them get to work.
If it makes Stan feel better, he can make a list of coaching candidates and keep it in a safe place. If next year goes south early…pull the trigger. That would no more damaging than getting rid of Spagnuolo and McDaniels now, or in the off season, then ushering in regime for 2012. Neither one will speed up the development of Bradford or the team as a whole. Continuity and consistency are good things for a young team. And from all accounts the players like and play hard for Spags.
Give Sam a full off season with his receivers and quarterbacks coach. Give Spagnuolo a healthy roster and what will be a more representative schedule. Give McDaniels the appropriate time to teach this offense. Give Spagnuolo the opportunity to prove 2010 was what can be expected, that this, this ugliness is but a mere outlier of his coaching resume.
Who is Kroenke going to get to come it here anyhow that will appease the masses? Gruden? Nope. Cowher? Even less likely. No whomever replaces Spags is more than likely going to be just a different version of Spags. A top assistant looking to prove himself wearing the big boy pants.
The next Jim Harbaugh is not walking through the doors at the ED and turning this team in the 49ers over not. I hate to be the one to tell you but It’s not happening. No, look at 2012 for what it is. A winner-take-all-rubber-match-battle in Spagnuolo’s coaching career. Find that 2010 magic again and congratulations…you get to keep you job. Loss again and don’t let the door hit ya where the…you know the rest.