Under the guidance of head coach Jeff Fisher and general manager Les Snead, the St. Louis Rams have produced a record of 14-17-1 over the previous two seasons. Certainly nothing to write home about, but also a drastic improvement of where the team had been.
Throughout the rebuilding effort, the team has preached patience. Patience for building through the draft and patience as their young core grew and developed together.
Now compare that to the merry-go-round in Cleveland. On Tuesday, Browns owner Jimmy Haslam fired chief executive officer Joe Banner and general manager Mike Lombardi, each of whom held their position for one season. This came a month after the Browns fired head coach Rob Chudzinski. He also held his post for just one year.
Stability is a key component to any successful franchise. The New England Patriots are Super Bowl contenders year after year because they’ve got Bill Belichick at the helm (not to mention a strong owner in Robert Kraft and a pretty decent quarterback by the name of Tom Brady). And despite massive turnover in their receiving corps from 2012 to 2013 – they had to replace their top four leading receivers – the Patriots produced 12-4 records both seasons.
Obviously the players are the ones that must produce. But the stability of the Patriots organization helps put every player in a position to succeed.
And that brings us back to the Rams. It would have been nice to see a worst-to-first turnaround in St. Louis along the lines of what took place in Kansas City or Philadelphia. But a major overhaul was needed.
The Rams knew rebuilding the talent base was going to be a process. They also knew there would be bumps along the way (see Brian Quick’s slow development and Janoris Jenkins’ regression for two such examples).
But building a consistent winner takes time. The NFL has proven time and again that it takes a good combination of shrewd drafting and smart free agent signings. Bringing in a premiere free agent rarely works as a quick-fix to a team’s woes.
In the same amount of time that Fisher and Snead have been leading the Rams, the Browns have had two head coaches, two general managers, four quarterbacks and 56 coaches on their staff (credit to Peter King at Sports Illustrated for those numbers).
There are plenty of improvements the Rams could (and should) make for 2014. In Year 3 of this regime it’s time to start thinking playoffs. Another mediocre record would be viewed with disappointment.
But the Rams’ stability from year to year should serve them well moving forward. Coaches understand the system and what’s expected. Players know their roles and what’s expected of them. The Rams have spent the past two years building an organizational philosophy and finding the personnel they believe are an ideal fit.
None of this is to say the Rams have booked their tickets to the postseason in 2014. But the stability helps. Now it’s up to the organization to ensure the positive development of its program.
Should the Rams consider signing a free agent running back this offseason?