I, like virtually every other St. Louis Rams fan, have begun to consider what next season will bring. While I haven't given up on the Rams, and would love to see the sweep the San Francisco 49ers, I just can't keep thinking about what might have been this season.
I'm trying to tug my mind away from the Rams injury lists that are in a continuous surreal swirl in my head. Blaming the Taliban, Global Warming, Snooky or the over abundance of cute kitten videos that dominate the web for the St. Louis Rams contagion level injuries just isn't panning out. The CDC will no longer take my calls, and refuse to acknowledge my assertion that "Turf Gnomes" have infested NFL stadiums. N.A.S.A. won't look into the obvious increase in gravity I pointed out to them as the cause of recent Rams weight room incidents... I'm thinking cover up? My thirty seven page letter I sent to Oliver Stone was a bit ranty, but the letter from his attorney was down right rude... Maybe I'll try?
The Rams season has to have the Rams owner, Stan Kroenke wondering what's happening to his team. If I put myself in his shoes for a moment, I can't help but add the Rams injuries into any equation used to evaluate the Rams coaching staff and front office. On paper, the player roster the Rams began the season with was pretty impressive if you allow for the absence of a number one wide receiver due to Josh McDaniel's purported disdain for the position.
So what should Stan Kroenke look at when he weighs possible changes in the coming off season?
I honestly think he has to weigh the possibility that injuries have made the 2011 season impossible to evaluate by any conventional means. While I could see questions raised in his mind as to the physical conditioning of his players, I can also see him being curious about how his money is being spent. The Rams have the third highest Salary Cap number in the NFL and very little to show for the mountains of cash expended.
Can he point to draft picks that haven't worked out as fair barometers for judging his Rams management team? I think it's fair to say that he will use offensive tackle Jason Smith as a case in point to prove there are grounds to be concerned with player choices to date. I touched on a number of topics along this line not long ago, and you read a bit of it here, here, here annnnnd here.
It hasn't been all that surprising to read of late that the entire coaching and management core of the Rams is on the proverbial hot seat. What does interest me is the lack of a really clear avenue to glean which people involved in the running of the Rams franchise are really directly blameable for what has transpired this season. I personally hold the position coaches as the greatest culprits, not the injuries. Great coaches have the ability to piece together a team to at least be marginally competitive. They build position depth through improving late draft round players raw talents. Here, I have seen beyond noticeable failure of the position coaching staff and by extension head coach Steve Spagnuolo.Stan Kroenke may see this as an instance where, if you can't identify individual problems among the many possibilities, removing everyone and starting over is the only viable solution.
In an article by Martin Samuel, he touched something that has me intrigued. He cite Stan Kroenke's views on Billy Beane, the famed Oakland Athletics GM that lived by "Sabermetrics" to build competitive baseball teams from 2002 to 2008ish, and made famous recently in the movie "Moneyball" . In a nutshell, Stan has an affinity toward trying to establish not only current player value, but value forward. It should be very interesting to see how this kind of statistical voodoo will effect his choices going forward since the same Billy Beane never won a World Series? Could one imply by this that what Stan seeks is a competitive team, not a Super Bowl champion? Are championships of less value in the broad scheme of things than having a team that keeps its fans happy by being on the edge of greatness? God I hope not...
The "Beane World" espouses a cost to performance ratio, so are the one year contracts we've seen this season the brain child of Kroenke, not Billy Devaney, the Rams General Manager? If that's true, then most, if not all, rage currently being leveled at Devaney is being misplaced. It would mean the Rams GM has been hamstrung to available players that fit the Beane paradigm. If this is the case, we may be throw our disdain at the puppets while the puppeteer remains unscathed... If a new head coach and GM are brought in, and made to travel along these same guidelines, all we are looking at is the same thing on a different Sunday in 2012?
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