ST. LOUIS — There won’t be any knee-jerk reactions at Rams Park.
Following a 1-15 season that ended with Sunday’s 28-6 loss to San Francisco, Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo said he won’t make any changes to his coaching staff as he heads into his first full offseason.
"You don’t just jump ship on the process, schemes or people," Spagnuolo said. "You stick with what you believe in. If you didn’t believe in it, you shouldn’t have put it in in the first place. I have to sit down and evaluate everything, but we’ve got to give it time."
Spagnuolo admitted that the team will need to upgrade its talent to avoid a fourth straight losing season.
"That is part of it. Every team has to do that," Spagnuolo said. "There will be some other things. I’ve got to do a lot of evaluating this week. We’ve got to look at all three phases scheme-wise. You’ve go to look at them. We would do that if we were 15-1."
The Rams won just six games over the last three seasons, and own the worst winning percentage and most losses of any three-year stretch in franchise history.
"I fully expected us to win more football games," Spagnuolo said. "That part was disappointing. It was a hard season, and I think it was more difficult on (the players)."
It didn’t help that the team placed 13 players on injured reserve. That number that could have been 16 had tackle Jason Smith, cornerback Quincy Butler and defensive end Leonard Little—all of whom missed the team’s final three games—been put on the list.
"Through everything we went through, and all the adversity, there wasn’t anybody on the team jumping ship or pointing fingers," said Spagnuolo, adding that the team will research how to avoid future injuries.
"We have to look at them all to see how they happen," Spagnuolo said. "Some of them are freak, we all know that. Each case you have to take on an individual basis because it is a physical game, it is a contact game. I don’t know how you prevent one big guy from falling on another guy’s leg. I don’t know how you prevent that, but we will look at it."
The Rams were competitive in about half their games before fading late. Spagnuolo said learning how to win games like the 28-23 home loss to New Orleans and and Sunday’s loss, when the Rams led 3-0 at halftime and trailed 7-6 after three quarters, will come as the team matures.
"We were a young football team," Spagnuolo said. "In the course of those games where we were right there, typically it was a play or two here or there. We can’t do that. Somewhere in there, those one or two plays have to go the other way. We have to make them go the other way.
"Whether it’s a play change, and player change, I fully believe we’ll get there."
Spagnuolo continued by "half-kidding" that those plays "even out in the end."
"If we had a bad break this year, I’m banking on a good one next year," Spagnuolo said, drawing laughter from the media gathered at Rams Park. "But I fully believe that the pains we through this year, we’ll be stronger for it, and those pains will affect us in a positive way."
Over the last week, Spagnuolo said he tried to speak with each player individually about the offseason, and their future with the team, but said that neither he nor general manager Billy Devaney have made personnel decisions.
"We’ll get into that soon, but we’ve got time for that," Spagnuolo said.
Spagnuolo would not address a question about a "wish list" for positional needs. He deflected the question by saying he needed to "get over the San Francisco game first."
Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh is regarded as college football’s best player and is the favorite to be the top pick in April’s draft. It’s a pick owned by the Rams, but Spagnuolo would not offer an opinion on the 6-foot-4, 305-pound interior lineman who recorded 12 sacks and 22 1/2 tackles for a loss as a senior.
"Billy and I have to sit down. I haven’t had a chance to look at any college players," Spagnuolo said.
As the Rams begin that process, Spagnuolo is already looking forward to a positive 2010 season.
"There’s nothing like being in a locker room of an NFL team after winning just because of everything that goes into it during the week and what the guys do together, just the craving for that feeling," Spagnuolo said. "Unfortunately, we will have to wait however many months that is to get that feeling again."
This article can also be found at The Alton Telegraph (Published Jan. 4)