In the final game of the season, the Rams scored 27 points but still lost to the NFC West Champion 49ers. The game was out of hand for most of the game, but two touchdowns in the final 5 minutes made it a 7 point game. The day after the loss, head coach Steve Spagnuolo was fired, along with GM Billy Devaney. It is hard to pin the blame on just one guy after a year of huge disappointment. Last year the Rams won 7 games and nearly made the playoffs before falling to Seattle in the final game of the season. Going into this season, may saw the Rams as favorites to win the NFC West with Offensive Rookie of the Year Sam Bradford leading the team. However, injuries to many of the team including Bradford himself proved to be damning, and St. Louis could never really recover. The Rams were also plagued with one of the toughest schedules in the league. In the first 8 games, they played a team that ended up with at least a .500 record. In fact, the entire season, only 4 of the Rams opponents had records below .500 and that includes two games against the 7-9 Seahawks.
Bradford proved his critics right this year who labeled him as a fragile QB. He played in only 10 games this season, including missing the last 3. It is unknown whether or not Bradford could have played in the last few games if the games had any meaning, but there was no point in playing the franchise QB at anything less than 100%. The wide receivers also kept falling like flies. Mark Clayton, Danny Amendola, and Greg Salas were all lost to injury, Austin Pettis was suspended at the end of the season, and Mike Sims-Walker turned out to be an awful signing. The only good, constant receiver on the team was Brandon Lloyd who was traded for midway through the season. It was very apparent early in the season that the Rams front office didn’t put enough weapons around Bradford.
The running game remained solid, but Steven Jackson can only do so much. He had yet another 1000 yard season despite the rest of the offenses struggles. The RB position shouldn’t garner much attention this offseason, but most others will. First things first is finding a new head coach. Gruden’s name has been brought up, but he has remained adamant about staying in the booth for ESPN. Jeff Fisher’s name has also been mentioned, but he also getting interest from Tampa Bay. If the Rams do decide to go after a head coach with experience, Brian Billick, Bill Cowher, and Tony Dungy could be brought up in discussion. The Rams should get some serious consideration from a lot of teams because of the fact that they do have Bradford. He is a more attractive choice to start at QB than most other places with coaching vacancies.
A new GM is also going to have to surround Bradford with some better weapons. Brandon Lloyd worked well with Bradford and the other Ram QB’s this season, but has an attachment to Josh McDaniels. He won’t be back, so it will be interesting to see which way he heads. There is no telling where McDaniels will land, and if that spot will be interested in Lloyd as well. So I won’t close the door on Lloyd yet, and I’d imagine the Rams new management will make some effort to retain the starting wideout.
St. Louis also has the luxury of having the second overall pick. The first pick is almost certain to be Luck to the Colts, but St. Louis has a lot of options at number 2. There has been some rumblings that they may look to trade out of the spot to allow a team to trade up for Heisman winner Robert Griffin III. The Rams don’t have a need for the QB, and if does end up graded as the second best prospect in the country, there should be no shortage of interest for teams to move into the Rams spot. They won’t want to move back too far though, as they will want to take one of the top talents as well. If they keep the pick, they could look to solidify the line with OT Matt Kalil. Kalil is a dominating left tackle out of USC, and should be the first lineman off the board. If they want to bring in another play maker for Bradford, Justin Blackmon will likely be the top receiver taken. They could also look to improve their secondary by going after CB Claiborne from LSU, who has been described as a shutdown corner. The offseason will be interesting for St. Louis, which will help make up for a dismal regular season.