The St. Louis Rams are averaging a meager 11.5 points per game. Their defense, supposedly ready for a big leap in its third year under head coach Steve Spagnuolo and defensive coordinator Ken Flajole, is allowing more than 28 points per game. Both numbers represent the second-worst averages in the NFL. Winless through four games, it was never supposed to get this bad for the St. Louis Rams. They were supposed to walk away with the NFC West title, but that's little more than a pipe dream at this point.
What caused the mess? You can find any number of culprits, from dropped passes and woeful protection to a lack of pressure and poor coverage. While any one of those things have proven to be costly, it's the totality of them that has observers concerned. The Rams have picked up right where they left off last season when they came out flat and were exposed in a prime time battle for the division crown against the Seahawks in week 17 last year.
After each of those losses, Spagnuolo stands on the podium and talks about the importance of looking forward. The future, not the past, is what matters for the Rams, according to Spagnuolo.
But he doesn't have to tell us that; we're Rams fans. We've been looking forward toward the future for years now, long before Steve Spagnuolo arrived here and started turning in the same results we were trying to forget about from the past.
The 2011 version of the Rams is a more talented team than the one that took the field last year. Free agent additions should have improved the roster at key spots, from offensive guard to outside linebacker. Young players like Jason Smith and Sam Bradford should have benefited from another year of experience. That's not happening.
Yesterday during the game someone mentioned something about this front office's track record with draft picks, particularly the failure to hit on many players in the later rounds of the draft. To me, that excuses the coaches of their responsibility for developing those players. Young players, whether taken in the first round or undrafted, are not producing results that line up with their raw talent. The results on the field do not match the talent, and you can't blame the injuries either.
The flat, lifeless almost nonchalant play from the Rams over their last seven games or so tells the tale. Each week the team fails to execute the simple tasks expected of football players, things like catching the ball or making tackles. Penalties bury them further, since they incapable of scoring points or preventing them.
I never expected Spagnuolo and his staff to be on the hot seat just four weeks into this season, not with this schedule, but the schedule has been the least of the Rams' problems. Looking at the total failure, from all parts of the roster, it should be clear that the coaching staff bears most of the responsibility for a team that looks to be as bad as any Rams team since 2005...except this is a more talented team than those from the Linehan era.
Will Steve Spagnuolo be fired before season's end? I doubt it. I think the schedule and the injuries have given him at least that much of a breather. If they can't salvage something out of this train wreck, Stan Kroenke seems unlikely to tolerate another season of failure.