Once again the spotlight shone brightly on the St. Louis Rams. Near death and crawling toward the end of the season, Steve Spagnuolo's team needed to summon whatever will they had left. Steve Spagnuolo entered last night's game 0-2 in prime time appearances as head coach, his most famous being last year's Week 17 flop. Beset with injuries and the season already lost, all Spagnuolo had to do was not look like a schmuck for his third prime time appearance.
Instead, we saw this happening on the sidelines.
Obviously the Rams are unraveling. McDaniels' display of desperation on the sidelines isn't really notable in and of itself. More telling was his reluctance to use Steven Jackson, especially at the goal line. Before the Rams finally scored in the fourth quarter, the offensive coordinator ran five futile plays from the one-yard line. A Cadillac Williams run, a gimpy ankled quarterback sneak and three miserable looking passes from Sam Bradford and the sorry bunch of receivers the front office tried to bluff us all with back in August.
Josh McDaniels has been the biggest free agent bust of all, but at least he only cost $2 million per season, the rehabilitation tour discount. Like past Bill Belichick disciples, his undoing can best be blamed on his unflappable arrogance.
McDaniels reports to Steve Spagnuolo, the head coach. Spagnuolo, despite three years as a head coach and umpteen more studying offenses from the other side of the ball, still lacks the basic knowledge of how an offense works. Need more proof, look no further than Spagnuolo's explanation of that series, from Mike Sando's report at at ESPN.
The one thing there you are dealing with a little bit is the clock. If you run it and don't get in, you know you are going to chew some time. A little bit of that came into play and then when we couldn't get it in, we said, 'OK,' and then we got in.
Spagnuolo talking clock management. It sounds like Michael "Brownie" Brown explaining the nuances of disaster relief. McDaniels may have made the call not to bother with Steven Jackson until five plays and a couple flags of charity later, but the head coach failed to intervene in the insanity.
For all the assessment of McDaniels' shortcomings or whether or not Spagnuolo is head coaching material, the axiom of leadership makes the head coach accountable for the events taking place on the field. Accountability runs upward. Last night, Steve Spagnuolo captained a sinking ship deeper into the storm. He's had free range to put his stamp on things at Rams Park, and these are the results he has to show for it.
If the Rams make no changes to the leadership after this season, then the buck rests firmly with owner Stan Kroenke.