If the St. Louis Rams lose this Sunday to the Cleveland Browns, it will be loss number 32 for head coach Steve Spagnuolo. I know what you're thinking, "so, 31, 32...just another day at the office for the Rams." Hard to argue that, but there's a little historical significance in Spagnuolo's 32nd loss with the St. Louis Rams.
A loss this week would tie Spagnuolo for the most losses by a Rams head coach since the team relocated to St. Louis. Mike Martz lost 32 games during his tenure as head coach of the Rams. Martz coached a total of 85 games, before he was fired early in 2005. Spagnuolo will be coaching his 41st game this week.
Just how difficult will it be for team owner Stan Kroenke to overlook this dubious distinction? That all depends on how many more losses Spagnuolo incurs above and beyond his current tally of 31...and how his team looks in those games.
Bernie Miklasz at the Post-Dispatch pens a good reader today laying out the tough road ahead for Spagnuolo.
This much is certain: In their remaining eight games, Spagnuolo and the Rams have to give Kroenke reasons to stay the course in 2012. If the Rams continue to embarrass themselves, if the losses continue to pile up, if the coach continues to make questionable in-game decisions, then we'd have to assume the owner's urge to give Spags a break will fade. Kroenke won't be able to rehab the coach's image/credibility in a way that satisfies an angry fan base. In that scenario, retaining the HC would be awful for ticket sales for 2012. (As is, that will be a big challenge.)
The schedule ahead is a little easier; however, two games against the surprising 49ers and one against the resurgent Bengals make it harder than it once seemed. Throw in a game against the Steelers, and four of their remaining eight are mismatches.
Setting aside the schedule itself, the Rams locker room seems dangerously close to unraveling as the toll of losing mounts. Look no further than this week's strange saga with center Jason Brown. The Rams center was told Wednesday that he would be benched, and he made some strange remarks to the media. Yesterday, Spagnuolo walked back from that, making it sound as though they were still deciding between Brown and Tony Wragge. It's not that I necessarily disagree with the decision to bench Brown, but the way it's being handled is not the hallmark of a functional team.