Devaney rattles off excuses for Rams’ collapse in 2011

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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, 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.

11 responses to “Devaney rattles off excuses for Rams’ collapse in 2011

  1. Much of what he said had merit; the Rams had three different owners in four years.

    When you have that kind of instability at the top, it’s tough to establish anything. Plus there was no George Young, Ron Wolf, Bill Parcells, Ozzie Newsome type leader in the FO to see them through.

    However that is why the draft was so important; Devaney acquired many interchangeable parts but few true difference makers, the type of players that form the nucleus of a playoff team.

    The end result was a ship without a rudder that eventually crashed on the rocks. My hope for 2012-2014 is that Snead and Fisher can do what Rich McKay did with the Bucs in the early 90s; find the players(Lynch, Brooks, Sapp) that can define who you are and where you’re going.

  2. Butterfly effect: Saints beat Rams (as they were heavy favorites to do so) the Saints host the 49ers… Saints win likely. Saints host Giants – likely win. Saints vs. Patriots in the Superbowl..different champion.

    Or if Tony Romo’s pass to Miles Austin is a second later.. different champion as Dallas goes to the postseason not the Giants.

  3. I have nothing against the Rams, and wouldn’t mind seeing them win. That being said, it’s really hard to not immediately get bored whenever anything is said about them.

  4. justwinbaby29 – here is another “Butterfly Affect”: Rams score more points against every team they play in regular season, go 16-0. Rams score more points than all of the teams they play in the playoffs and SuperBowl. 2011/2012 NFL SuperBowl Champion St. Louis Rams………….. Okay, not a “Butterfly Affect”, more like an “Extremely Delusional Rams Fan Affect.”

  5. randallflagg52: I agree completely. I will get thumbs down for this and I don’t care, but I’m not convinced at all by Sam Bradford. Apparently though people believe for a quarterback who threatened a hold out as a rookie that he is doing amazing. I guess I have a different understanding of what the highest paid rookie in the NFL should have done by the end of his 2nd season. But hey 6td passes in 10 games is worth $50 mil guaranteed, right?

  6. From everything I have read, Devaney and “Spags” were a pair of horse’s arse’s. They say karma always has the final say and we can see it was true in this case.

    I never judge how a coach/GM did during his tenure by so much as what they did but by what they left behind. Did you go 5-11 two seasons in a row but left behind a nucleus of players that allow a new coach to go 11-5? If you did then you may get another chance–if you didn’t then you don’t deserve one.

  7. thefam3132 shows what unknowledgeable fans think, these are the people who think Jamarcus Russell was the next best thing since Peyton Manning! Sad

  8. Devaney had more high draft picks in all rounds than any other team as a result of winning about 20% of the games during his tenure, and there were simply way too many draft whiffs. His regime focused heavily on winning the media relations game and never fully understood that you need many fast, talented players to win in the NFL. His selection of Spagnuolo hurt the organization, too, as he was clearly not ready to be a head coach. The other NFL teams had similar challenges as the Rams and the teams with strong leadership overcame those challenges. The Rams are much better off with Jeff Fisher and Les Snead running the team.

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