The Los Angeles Rams went 4-12 in 2016, including losing seven straight and 11 of their final 12 games after a 3-1 start that placed them tenuously atop the NFC West for a fleeting moment.
After jettisoning coach Jeff Fisher, the Rams are looking to jumpstart a franchise that hasn't had a winning season since 2003. Despite all the losing, the man leading the coaching search, COO Kevin Demoff, doesn't view his team going through a full-fledged rebuild.
"I think this team has talent, still has a very young core at its heart, and we need to find our way," Demoff told ESPN.com's Alden Gonzalez. "But this is not a rebuild to me whatsoever. This is maximizing the talent we have. And we do have to go into the offseason and improve our personnel across the board. It's what we said when we made the coaching change. It's not just a coaching issue. We need to get better on the personnel side."
Whether you call it a "rebuild" or a "retool" is semantics. The fact is the Rams' roster can't compare to the depth of talent on playoff-caliber teams.
Yes, Los Angeles boasts some star names. Aaron Donald is the best interior defender in the NFL. Your mother could see Todd Gurley has talent -- despite a down season where he began to regress, displayed limited vision, struggled to break tackles and didn't trust his line to open the proper holes. Johnny Hekker is one of the best punters in the game, so that's a win. Where are the rest of the shoo-in Pro Bowl talents?
Jared Goff has innate talent, but you had to squint hard to see it this season. The rookie looked spooked in the pocket, missed multiple throws high or in the dirt each game, struggled to get through his progression consistently, and looked like a college quarterback tossed into an NFL fire with little help from coaches or surrounding players. Can the next coach salvage Goff?
The offensive line is a mess despite heavy investments. The defensive line doesn't get consistent edge pressure when Robert Quinn is hurt. The secondary has pieces, but corners opposite Trumaine Johnson got torched for stretches this season. Johnson is also hitting the free-agent market after playing the season on the franchise tag.
Despite the tangled web of questions heading into 2017, the Rams will still sell themselves as a quick fix.
"Every year in the NFL you should be able to compete," Demoff said. "And I think the hard part about the NFL is looking at teams who go from worst to first, how competitive they get quickly, and making that push."