NFL Coaching Changes: 3 Big-Name Coaches the St. Louis Rams May Target

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NFL Coaching Changes: 3 Big-Name Coaches the St. Louis Rams May Target
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Bill Cowher

In all probability, the St. Louis Rams will be making significant changes in the offseason. 

When considering the Rams are in the midst of the worst five-year winning percentage in NFL history, that would seem to be the prudent course of action.

Those changes will almost certainly start at the top, with openings likely ahead at both general manager and head coach.

At head coach, Steve Spagnuolo has stumbled to a 10-36 record with two games remaining in his third and, most likely, final season under the Arch. 

In 2009, his first in St. Louis, the Rams finished at 1-15. 

Last year, St. Louis showed promise and progressed, finishing at 7-9 and a game out of the NFC playoffs.

NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Sam Bradford led the offense as young defensive standouts James Laurinaitis and Chris Long assisted a talented group of young defenders in playing solid team defense.

Heading into 2011, many prognosticators pegged the Rams as the favorite in the NFC West. 

Fast forward to Week 16.

The Rams are staring at last place in the NFC West, a top-three pick in the 2012 NFL draft (for the third time in four years) and the strong possibility of a two-win season.

St. Louis finishes with games at Pittsburgh (who are still fighting for a higher playoff seed) followed by a New Year's Day matchup at the Edward Jones Dome against NFC West champion San Francisco (who could be playing for home field advantage in that game).

January 2, one day after the regular season's completion, comes what is known as "Bloody Monday" in league circles.

It's on this day that NFL head coaches who are rightfully or wrongfully deemed as under-performing often hit the unemployment line. 

Coaches are sent to the showers, demoted, axed or relieved of their duties.

Regardless of how one wants to phrase it, it's the day when head coaches get fired.

In St. Louis, expect Steve Spagnuolo to be handed a one-way ticket out of Rams Park on January 2. 

In all probability, Spagnuolo will land on his feet as a defensive coordinator next season, and rightfully so.  

Before taking over in St. Louis, he was a highly-regarded defensive coordinator with the New York Giants.  Spagnuolo burst onto the national scene after his defense wreaked havoc on Tom Brady and the heavily favored New England Patriots in an upset victory in Super Bowl XLII.

St. Louis' last two head coaches, Scott Linehan and the aforementioned Spagnuolo, were hired without previous head coaching experience.  

And both, coincidentally or otherwise, failed miserably at the helm for the Rams.

Linehan, Spagnuolo's predecessor, "led" St. Louis to an 11-25 record before getting canned after four games in his third season in 2008.

So far, Spagnuolo is somehow doing worse than Scott Linehan.  

Spagnuolo's record now stands at 10-36.  It is likely that he ends his third season at the helm at a dismal 10-38. 

Regardless of the unfortunate injury situations that have plagued the franchise and several other obstacles that Spagnuolo has been dealt with, the likable Spagnuolo is 10-36, an unacceptable record in the NFL.

After struggling so mightily with two former coordinators who lacked head coaching experience, look for St. Louis to pursue a proven head coach if a change is made.

St. Louis needs to solidify the franchise and the safest route to doing so is by landing a man with a long and successful resume as an NFL head coach.  

The three biggest names with that pedigree are Bill Cowher, Jon Gruden and Jeff Fisher.

Some might say that one or more of these individuals are unrealistic options. However, that is not necessarily the case for at least three reasons.

First of all, money talks. For the right price, the right coach can be attained.

Keep in mind, St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke is extremely wealthy, even by NFL standards.

Kroenke checked in as the third wealthiest NFL owner in 2011, according to Forbes.  If one were to also include his wife's fortune, Kroenke would have easily checked in at No. 2 on the list behind only Paul Allen of the Seattle Seahawks, the co-founder of Microsoft.

Either way, he's got the goods to pay top dollar for the coach of his choice.

Secondly, the Rams possess a quarterback in Sam Bradford who many believe has the potential to become that treasured jewel NFL teams slobber over—a franchise quarterback a la Peyton Manning or Tom Brady. 

Finally, giving power over personnel is often appealing to coaches of this stature and could be the carrot that owner Stan Kroenke dangles in front these potential coaching candidates.

Interestingly, the Rams have previous connections with at least two of the three choices—Gruden and Fisher—as we will discuss in the upcoming slides, making the next few weeks all the more interesting if a head coaching search indeed begins.  

With that said, let's briefly take a look at each of the aforementioned individuals.   

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