Monday, October 24, 2011
NFC West coaching seats warm to occasion
By Mike Sando
The St. Louis Rams' 0-6 start has left that team with a 13-57 record since 2007.
The record is 8-30 since Steve Spagnuolo became head coach in 2009.
A 34-7 defeat at Dallas in Week 7 left Spagnuolo on a short list of head coaches on the hot seat. He's one of five with a record at least 22 games below .500 and fewer than eight career victories, according to Pro Football Reference.
Spagnuolo, who won a championship with the New York Giants following the 2008 season, has company on the Rams' staff. First-year offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels went 83-19 during his final eight seasons with New England and first six games as Denver's head coach in 2009. His teams have gone 5-24 since that time.
I've been getting more questions about Spagnuolo's job security as the losses mount. How the team loses will be important. Getting trampled on the ground by opposing running games becomes demoralizing.
Overall, Spagnuolo's inability to keep the defense competitive this season works against him. Yes, the Rams have suffered significant injuries at cornerback, but their defense was having problems anyway. The free agents they added haven't upgraded the defense.
Some Arizona Cardinals fans are also getting restless. Their coach, Ken Whisenhunt, has gone 3-14 over his last 17 games. The Cardinals were 5-12 in their final 17 games under Dennis Green. The obvious progress Whisenhunt made posting three consecutive non-losing records, complete with a Super Bowl appearance and 4-2 postseason record, fades with each defeat.
In Arizona, as in St. Louis, I think it's important for the franchise quarterbacks to finish the season better than they have started it. Without quarterback progress, it's tougher for anyone -- fans, owners, players -- to feel as though an organization is moving in the right direction. It's also much tougher to win, of course.
The chart shows head coaches who are at least 22 games below .500 and possessing no more than nine career victories. I've updated the Pro Football Reference numbers to reflect Week 7 results, and have recalculated winning percentages to account for ties.