Defenses cost Spagnuolo and Morris

January, 2, 2012
1/02/12
3:01
PM ET
On the day the NFL traditionally calls Black Monday, for the inevitable firings that occur, the first two head coaches axed were St. Louis' Steve Spagnuolo and Tampa Bay's Raheem Morris.

Both coaches came from defensive backgrounds, and defense ultimately played a big role in their firings.

The two worst point differentials in the NFL this season belonged to the Rams (-214) and Buccaneers (-207), continuing a trend that has plagued both teams since Spagnuolo and Morris took over before the 2009 season.

In the last three seasons, the Rams and Bucs have the two worst point differentials in the league, and it's not close. The Rams have been outscored by 514 points since 2009; that's 174 points worse than the Buccaneers, who are 60 points worse than any other team.

St. Louis has surrendered 1,171 points since 2009, seventh-most in the NFL, but the Rams have major offensive problems as well, scoring only 657 points (13.7 PPG) in three seasons, by far the fewest in the league.

The Buccaneers issues have been largely defensive, allowing a league-high 494 points this season and a total of 1,212 points in the last three years, second-most behind Detroit's 1,250.

Spagnuolo bracketed a promising 7-9 record in 2010 with a combined three wins in 2009 & 2011. His win total of 10 ties the second fewest by any coach in his first 48 games. Only future NFL commissioner Bert Bell had fewer, with the Eagles in the 1930s.

Morris and Tampa Bay also had a promising 2010 campaign, going 10-6 and missing the playoffs on tiebreakers. The Bucs then started 4-2 this season before completely collapsing and going winless in their final 10.

The big culprit for Tampa Bay was turnovers. The Buccaneers had a +3 turnover differential in their first six games but were -19 over their final 10 games, finishing with a league-worst -16 differential. Josh Freeman particularly regressed, committing a league-high 27 turnovers this season, three times as many as he had in 2010.

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