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  1. #1
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    Rams Players Look Ahead

    By Nick Wagoner/Senior Writer

    As Steve Spagnuolo addressed his team one final time Monday morning soon after learning he’d been dismissed as head coach, he didn’t relent and change who he was.

    Even on his way out, the relentlessly positive now former head coach of the Rams gave one final speech to the players with whom he’d grown so close.

    “He really thanked everyone for what they had done, the effort guys have given this year, told everyone he was proud of the way this team fought,” quarterback Sam Bradford said. “One thing he did say is whoever they bring in, embrace the new head coach, don’t hold any judgment or bitterness toward him, embrace him and get to work as soon as possible.”

    As Rams owner Stan Kroenke said in a statement released Monday morning, no one person is to blame for the events that led to Spagnuolo and general manager Billy Devaney being relieved of their duties after the team lost its final game of the 2011 season Sunday to drop to 2-14.

    But to a man, every player in the Rams locker room Monday took ownership of his role in what ultimately decided the fate of Spagnuolo and Devaney. And, in a business that’s as often unforgiving as it is exciting, nobody was surprised by the outcome.

    Perhaps nobody knows the ins and outs of it all better than Rams running back Steven Jackson.

    “In this business, you know pretty much a decision was going to be made one way or another,” Jackson said. “(I) wasn’t quite sure what it was going to be, but coach addressed the team this morning, let us know that he was terminated and he was sorry, especially for the guys that have been the entire three years he’s been head coach, that he didn’t get the job done. He took full responsibility, and really regret that he couldn’t turn this franchise back around.”

    Almost universally loved by his players for his unrelenting dedication to keeping an even keel and never throwing any of them under the bus, Rams players lamented the fact that they couldn’t do more to help Spagnuolo retain his job.

    Safety Quintin Mikell, who has a long standing relationship with Spagnuolo from their time together in Philadelphia, signed a long term contract with the Rams in the offseason in no small part because Spagnuolo was in place as head coach.

    “It’s tough,” Mikell said. “I feel like I let him down because he brought me in and obviously I am part of the reason. I take it seriously, this game. You feel like you are part of the reason this happened. It’s tough, man.”

    The sobering reality of Monday’s moves was not lost on the players in the locker room, either. Kroenke made it clear that accountability is the driving force behind this move and that accountability will almost certainly extend to a team that posted a 10-38 record and no postseason appearances over the past three seasons.

    “This is the business we sign up for, so this is one business where it’s just black and white, there are no shades of gray,” cornerback Ron Bartell said. “When you don’t get the job done, you don’t get the wins you’re supposed to get, this is what happens, from the top down. So we’ll all be held accountable, the next people that come in will make sure that players are held accountable, so we’ll see what happens.”

    More than likely, a new coaching staff will also mean plenty of turnover on the roster. It always does.

    “Anytime there is change in the coaching staff, there is going to be certain people that are brought along and certain people that will go to fit certain systems,” middle linebacker James Laurinaitis said. “This roster will probably look very different with the exception of a couple of key parts and as of right now, I think the guys on this team that know they are going to be a part of this roster just take some time away and get everybody healthy and just relax a little bit.”

    In the interim, the Rams will have that to look forward to but they also have plenty to monitor in the coming weeks as the Rams move toward a new head coach as well as a general manager.

    The next head coach will be the fourth of Jackson’s career and he’s been around long enough to know what to look for in the next man to get the opportunity.

    “You need a lot in the head coach…I think one you need one that is a leader, that knows how to, one, lead men, and secondly, listen to them, you know, when they tell you that some things need to be adjusted,” Jackson said. “I think the most important is one that has a clear cut vision of what he wants for the franchise and knows how to get them there.”

    “Along with those abilities, you have to have wins and losses too. In this business, I’ve been around a lot of great people, but unfortunately that’s not what keeps people around all the time.”

    Kroenke and his people have already begun the process of finding the next head coach and general manager and will likely move swiftly and decisively to make it happen.

    With a keen eye, key Rams like Laurinaitis and end Chris Long will be watching to see what the next move is.

    “I also have trust in Mr. Kroenke in what he’s going to do and the direction he wants to go,” Laurinaitis said. “He knows what he wants to do with this thing and I have all the faith in the world in him to make those decisions.”

    Long echoed those sentiments, adding that he hopes resolution are reached sooner than later so the Rams can get to work on getting the ship righted.

    “Obviously, the sooner the better,” Long said. “I think they need to take their time to get the right person because I think that’s where it starts is that person’s leadership. We do have some pieces in place to turn this thing around. We’ve got a franchise quarterback who I believe can be the guy. We just have to build around him and we’ve got some pieces on defense. So let’s just take that nucleus and move. The next leader of this team, I believe there are some good guys in this locker room and whoever that guy is, he’s going to have something to work with.”

  2. #2
    Trevor's Avatar
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    Re: Rams Players Look Ahead

    Its unfortunate that when a team sucks it allllllll falls on the head coach. I don't think it should be like that but the only way to make the fans happy and to make the fans think that change will happen is to hire a new HC. Thats just my opinion.

  3. #3
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    Re: Rams Players Look Ahead

    It won't be just the HC taking a one way trip out of St. Louis. Plenty of the players will be done also.

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