This article is part of our Team Previews series.
STATE OF THE FRANCHISE
It didn't take long for the Steve Spagnuolo bandwagon to come to a screeching halt in front of new owner Stan Kroenke. After the Rams managed a respectable 7-9 record in 2010, the club bombed in 2011 and Spagnuolo found himself out of a job. In Spagnuolo's defense, losing 10 defensive backs, most of the offensive line and most of the receiving corps to the IR didn't exactly leave him with the tools to get the job done. However, the NFL is about winning – something the club did only 10 times under Spagnuolo – and Kroenke does not accept failure. The result? A full front office housecleaning, and the start of the Jeff Fisher era in St. Louis.
The good news was that Steven Jackson continued to defy the odds, and pounded out yet another 1,000-yard rushing season (his seventh straight). He also had 42 receptions for 333 yards. While Sam Bradford appeared to take a step back, in fairness he faced the challenge of learning his second new offense in as many seasons, this time without an offseason. He threw behind a Swiss cheese offensive line, and was without his favorite receivers for the majority of the year. On the defensive side of the ball, Chris Long finally came into his own, registering a career-high 13 sacks. In addition, middle linebacker James Laurinaitis tallied career-high 142 total tackles, with three sacks and two interceptions.
As is normally the case when a team overhauls its