Over at SI.com Don Banks has a look at the league's 11 new head coaches and their chances to make some gains in the win column next season. What does he have to say about Rams new head coach Steve Spagnuolo? Obviously, Spags has some work to do when it comes to building a playoff contending roster, but he's off when he carries the ownership/front office uncertainty meme too far.
Winning with the Rams figures to be difficult for a while yet, mainly because the organization is going through such significant restructuring internally while waiting to be sold. While rookie head coach Steve Spagnuolo begins the process of turning over a rapidly-aging roster in key spots, you've got St. Louis responding to the departure of team president John Shaw and general manager Jay Zygmunt, and the installation of temporary (for now, at least) general manager Billy Devaney. That's a lot of change and uncertainty to overcome.
First of all, he clearly missed the memo that Devaney has been given the reigns to the football operation. There's no "interim" in Devaney's title; majority owner Chip Rosenbloom laid out the chain of command at Rams Park, and Devaney's role is clear. As we've said around here for a long, long time, clearly defining the roles and responsibilities in the front office and turning those decisions over to true blue football guys was the first step in rebuilding a winning team. That move will do more good under the Dome than all the cash in the world to sign and draft players.
As for the team's "waiting to be sold" status, well, that's a little bit misleading. The reporting team at the Post-Dispatch and the Belleville News Democrat has done a bang up job keeping track of this situation. The Rams are for sale in that they'll listen to offers, but the team isn't actively being shopped. Not that it won't be in the future, but Chip Rosenbloom is operating as though he will continue to own a majority stake in the team for the foreseeable future. It's also worth remembering that with the economy in its current state, buyers aren't exactly lining up, especially those who would need to get credit to buy the team. One more point, the Rams, regardless of owner, aren't moving without incurring major penalties for the next six years. That might change when 2015 rolls around and triggers a clause in their lease on the Ed Jones Dome that allows them to opt out if the stadium isn't among the league's top quartile of facilities.
For the Rams, the change and uncertainty thing has officially been flogged to death.
Now, Banks is right on when it comes to the personnel side of the ledger for new coach Steve Spagnuolo. The Rams do have lots of questions and lots of needs to fill, including whether or not Marc Bulger can get back up to speed. Not even the most optimistic fan is mistaking these Rams as the next incarnation of the '72 Dolphins, but this is a team capable of winning games next year, with the right moves and new, inspired leadership. They had the talent to win 5 or 6 last season, before other factors intervened.
Make no mistake about it, player personnel questions aside, these Rams finally have leadership and direction, and that's the free agent they've been struggling to find for a long time now.