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  • Rams fire coach, GM after another dismal year




    Rams fire coach, GM after another dismal year















    ST. LOUIS (AP)—The St. Louis Rams fired coach Steve Spagnuolo and general
    manager Billy Devaney on Monday, a day after the team wrapped up a 2-14 season
    tied for the NFL’s worst.




    The Rams made a six-win improvement last season and played for the NFC West
    title in the finale, but were just 10-38 overall in three seasons with Spagnuolo
    and Devaney calling the shots. Devaney joined the front office in 2008, but the
    Rams were 12-52 in his four years as GM.




    “It’s amazing how easily it all could have gone the other way and this
    would be a totally different meeting at the end of the year,” defensive end
    Chris Long said. “And, maybe we are still playing. It’s a fine line between
    being good and bad in the NFL, and we’ve learned that over the past couple of
    years here.”






    Rams owner Stan Kroenke fired both men with one year remaining on their
    contracts, and with fan interest dwindling. The Edward Jones Dome was been about
    half-filled much of the year.




    “No one individual is to blame for this disappointing season and we all
    must hold ourselves accountable,” Kroenke said in a statement issued by the
    Rams. “However, we believe it’s in the best interest of the St. Louis Rams to
    make these changes as we continue our quest to build a team that consistently
    competes for playoffs and championships.”




    Players said Spagnuolo took the high road in a meeting Monday morning.




    “Coach addressed the team this morning to let us know that he was
    terminated and he was sorry, especially for the guys that have been here the
    entire three years he was coach, that he didn’t get the job done,” running back
    Steven Jackson said. “He took full responsibility.”




    Next April, the Rams will have the second pick of the draft, the fourth time
    in five seasons with the No. 1 or 2 selection. The premium picks, including
    quarterback Sam Bradford, have not been enough to make up the frequent miscues
    and a puny offense run by first-year coordinator Josh McDaniels.




    Names of potential replacements for Spagnuolo began to surface weeks ago as
    the season unraveled, with Jon Gruden and Jeff Fisher linked as naturals given
    their relationships with chief operating officer Kevin Demoff and agent Marvin
    Demoff.




    Spagnuolo was considered a defensive whiz after an impressive performance by
    the Giants in a Super Bowl upset of the unbeaten Patriots in 2008, and got a
    four-year contract for his first head coaching job. The Rams were 1-15 in 2009
    while undertaking a massive overhaul, then made a six-victory improvement in
    2010, and entered this season viewed as NFC West contenders.




    Instead, they were swamped by a difficult schedule, losing their first six
    in a row, and also by injuries at quarterback, the secondary and the offensive
    line.




    Cornerback Ron Bartell, who sustained a season-ending neck injury in the
    opener, re-signed as a free agent with the Rams because of his respect for
    Spagnuolo.




    “I love coach Spags to death but at the end of the day when you don’t get
    wins this is what happens,” Bartell said.




    Spagnuolo was criticized for devoting too much time to the cosmetics of the
    job. He pushed for a $1 million renovation of the stadium locker room the team
    uses 10 times a year, and surrounded himself with a new trainer, public
    relations head, building operations manager and equipment manager.




    Yet the players said they believe the foundation is here for a good team.




    Long, among the league leaders with 13 sacks, said Sunday that the 49ers’
    quick turnaround can serve as inspiration. San Francisco made a seven-victory
    jump and is the No. 2 playoff seed in the NFC after going 13-3, including a
    season-ending win in St. Louis.




    “You’re never as far away as you think in this league,” Long said. “It’s
    super competitive. They came out of nowhere and now they’re in the playoffs and
    have a shot.”




    Devaney loaded up with free agents last summer in an effort to augment a
    team that was in the division race to the end but had too many misses.




    The offense was the NFL’s worst, with or without Bradford. The defense was
    the NFL’s worst against the run, threatening the franchise record for yards
    allowed. A pair of special teams failures were devastating, a blocked field goal
    on the potential game-winner and a 99-yard punt return, in an overtime loss at
    Arizona.




    The Rams put everything together once for a 31-21 upset over the 13-win
    Saints, even with backup A.J. Feeley calling the signals. Jackson became the
    seventh player in NFL history to rush for 1,000 yards in seven straight seasons
    despite the personnel upheaval and Long and middle linebacker James Laurinaitis
    also had good years.


    But the team’s depth was tested immediately when leading wide receiver Danny
    Amendola
    and Bartell were lost for the year and Jackson injured his quadriceps
    on his first carry in a season-opening loss to the Eagles




    “We’ve got a lot of guys that unfortunately were banged up,” Laurinaitis
    said. “I think a full offseason together will help. I don’t think 2-14 reflects
    this team if everyone is healthy. We’ll see.”






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