A year after nearly making it to the playoffs following a total of six wins in three seasons, the planets aligned for another disastrous season in St. Louis. And a disaster indeed unfolded, in the form of a 2-14 record.
The finish resulted in owner Stan Kroenke cleaning most of the house, firing G.M. Billy Devaney and coach Steve Spagnuolo. On Saturday, Devaney joined Doug Farrar and Rob Rang of KJR radio (via NFL.com), and Devaney offered up a wide variety of excuses for the team’s re-collapse in 2011.
The laundry list of lamentations for losing include: (1) the team went up for sale as soon as Devaney and Spagnuolo were hired; (2) the team had “an old roster,” a “really old roster”; (3) there were “some guaranteed contracts on there that we have to live with”; (4) the lineup was essentially “Steven Jackson and the Pips,” and Devaney said he “probably would have been happier with some of the Pips” (oh . . . snap); (5) the team had to make tough and unpopular decisions regarding receiver Torry Holt and Orlando Pace; (6) there wasn’t much money being put into a team that was for sale; (7) after a successful season, offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur left to coach the Browns; (8) a ton of injuries in 2011; (9) no offseason in 2011; and (10) a “ridiculous” schedule in 2011.
“It was just one thing after another,” Devaney said. “I could tell in training camp — I mean early on, I don’t even know if we started playing a preseason game — things just, especially on offense, things just looked really . . . nobody looked comfortable.”
Then came the regular season, with an opening slate of games against the Eagles, Giants, Ravens, Redskins, Packers, Cowboys, and Saints. But for a postseason-altering upset win over the Saints (if New Orleans had won, the Saints would have hosted the 49ers in the divisional round), the Rams would have started the year 0-8.
“I mean, we were hoping, and this is — we’re trying to be optimistic — we were hoping at the halfway point, we may have had two wins,” Devaney said. “We thought if we could scratch out two wins, the back end of the schedule, we could win a couple of more games. Well, I don’t know if we won any. We may have won one, but by that time, the roster was decimated. We were working corners out on Tuesday and they were lining up and starting for us on Sunday. . . . Five or six of those guys, I couldn’t even tell you who they were.”
The points are all valid, but the lesson for other General Managers and coaches is that, when a team is facing that kind of adversity, it’s important to manage expectations, both inside and outside the building.
It didn’t work internally, or Devaney and Spagnuolo would have gotten another chance to preside over another stunning turnaround.