Three NFL teams are still without a win following their week 7 games. The St. Louis Rams were blown out by the Dallas Cowboys in a record-setting loss. The Miami Dolphins blew a 15-0 lead in the fourth quarter against Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos. The ugliest loss of all happened last night, as New Orleans scored a whopping 62 points in a win over the Indianapolis Colts. Jim Caldwell and Tony Sparano are feeling the heat this morning. Will the seat be as warm for Rams head coach Steve Spagnuolo?
Take a guess at who made this fine utterance of coach speak:
I have to take responsibility for our team and the way that they played. We just didn't play well. I think the guys fought. We didn't execute well, but I think the effort was good.
Sound familiar? Except for the opening sentence, it sounds exactly like what Steve Spagnuolo says after each and every Rams game, dating back to last season's week 17 flop on national television. It was actually Colts' coach Jim Caldwell, whose team has been ever worse than imagined without Peyton Manning.
The Rams were without their starting quarterback for the first time yesterday, but the results didn't matter. A defensive-minded head coach watched his defense get gored, allowing rookie RB DeMarco Murray to set records. It was the second time this season that the Rams run defense allowed more than 200 rushing yards in a game. This after signing some free agents to try and address a problem that was exposed last year versus runs on the outside.
You can expect quarterbacks and wide receivers to take advantage of a secondary filled with straw men, but the Rams' efforts against the run are simply embarrassing, especially after the progress this team made on defense last year. Even more troubling is that the play of the defense's best players is not improving. James Laurinaitis is widely regarded as one of the best young linebackers in the game. The quarterback of the defense, he's responsible for recognizing offensive alignments, getting his guys lined up and in the right gap. And the Rams front seven is as bad as it's ever been, even compared to the years before 2009.
You could say the same thing about second-year quarterback Sam Bradford, who has really struggled this season.
When a team's most talented players are invisible, it's a big problem, one the coaches have to answer for.
I can get as statistical as you want to get, but with coaches, it all comes down to a simple set of numbers: wins and losses. Steve Spagnuolo is 8-30 since taking over as head coach of the Rams. Tony Sparano is 25-28 since taking over as the Dolphins head coach in 2008; he's 14-23 over the same period of time that Spagnuolo has been a head coach. Jim Caldwell is 24-14 since he earned the Colts coaching gig the same year the Rams hired Spagnuolo.
Caldwell and Sparano could be fired by the end of the day. If not, the end of the season will certainly bring some reckoning for them.
As for Spagnuolo...