So what went wrong in St. Louis? On Saturday, Devaney discussed the situation he inherited and the roadblocks that surfaced along the way during an interview with Doug Farrar and Rob Rang on "Chalk Talk" on KJR-AM in Seattle.
"I still ask myself that, almost every day," Devaney said. "The short version is when I was named general manager, we were looking for a head coach. And went through the hiring process, had great candidates, and knew (Steve) Spagnuolo from way back when I worked at the Redskins, he was an intern, so they hired Spags. As soon as Spags gets hired, the team is for sale. Chip and Lucia (Rosenbloom) inherit the team from Georgia Frontiere. Through a whole mess of legalese and tax issues, they tried everything they could to keep the team and they weren't going to be able to.
"So the team went up for sale. It was an old roster. Really old roster. There were some guaranteed contracts on there that we had to live with. Spags and I could got together with Chip and we said 'Listen, this is going to be a complete overhaul, let's just bite the bullet and, rather than do it piece meal, let's blow the whole damn thing up.' "
"That was it," said Devaney. "And you know what? I would have probably been happier with some of the Pips, quite honestly."
Devaney mentioned that they had to make some tough, unpopular decisions on Torry Holt and Orlando Pace, two franchise cornerstones who were no longer performing at a high level, and that there wasn't a whole lot of money being put into a team that was for sale. The selection of Bradford gave Devaney the impression that the franchise was moving forward, but coaching moves led to a backslide.
"We lose Pat Shurmur to the Cleveland Browns, he's our offensive coordinator. And the decision was made to bring in Josh McDaniels and change the whole offense. And it kind of completely blew up on us," Devaney said. "It was the perfect storm, Doug and Rob. When you look at it, we had a ton of injuries, no offseason. It was just one thing after another. I could tell in training camp -- I mean early on, I don't even know if we started playing a preseason game -- things just, especially on offense, things just looked really ... nobody looked comfortable.
"And our (2011) schedule was ridiculous. I mean, we were hoping, and this is -- we're trying to be optimistic -- we were hoping at the halfway point, we may have had two wins. We thought if we could scratch out two wins, the back end of the schedule, we could win a couple of more games. Well, I don't know if we won any. We may have won one, but by that time, the roster was decimated. We were working corners out on Tuesday and they were lining up and starting for us on Sunday. ... Five or six of those guys, I couldn't even tell you who they were.
"You can't hide corners. Not in this league," Devaney added. "Spagnuolo was handcuffed (in) what he liked to do. We had new guys, rookies, guys that never played in the NFL. So we had to play very vanilla. We couldn't do all the exotic stuff that Spagnuolo likes to do on defense. So, it was just a nightmare. It was just one of those years, everything that could go wrong, went wrong for us."
The roster that Rams head coach Jeff Fisher and general manager Les Snead have inherited is considerably younger and more talented than the one that Devaney had when he arrived in 2008. The new regime is also aware that you can't hide corners in the NFL and devoted significant resources to the position this offseason. Cortland Finnegan was signed to a five-year, $50 million contract that contained $27 million in guaranteed money, and the Rams used the No. 39 pick in the draft on Janoris Jenkins, a first-round talent who is slated to start immediately, and the No. 65 overall pick on Trumaine Johnson, a tall, long corner who will likely play in a nickel role this season.