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Rams players feel for Spagnuolo; COO vows to hire right coach

Next year will be Chris Long's fifth season with the St. Louis Rams. The defensive end will play for his fourth coach in a seemingly endless cycle of futility.

Having survived Scott Linehan, Jim Haslett and Steve Spagnuolo, who knows what's next? This time around, the Rams also are shopping for a general manager.

Spagnuolo and general manager Billy Devaney were both fired Monday, one day after the Rams wrapped up a 2-14 record that tied for the NFL's worst.

"It's amazing how easily it all could have gone the other way, and this would be a totally different meeting at the end of the year," Long said. "And maybe we are still playing. It's a fine line between being good and bad in the NFL, and we've learned that over the past couple of years here."

The Rams made a six-win improvement last season and played for the NFC West title in the season finale, but were just 10-38 overall in three seasons with Spagnuolo and Devaney calling the shots. Devaney joined the front office in 2008, but the Rams were 12-52 in his four years as GM.

Players said Spagnuolo took the high road in a meeting Monday morning.

"Coach addressed the team this morning to let us know that he was terminated, and he was sorry, especially for the guys that have been here the entire three years he was coach, that he didn't get the job done," running back Steven Jackson said. "He took full responsibility."

Devaney offered thanks to the Rams and their fans in a statement posted on the team's official site.

"I want to thank so many people for my time here in St. Louis," Devaney said. "While certainly disappointed in our record, I wouldn't trade that time for anything. This is truly a special place."

Names of potential replacements for Spagnuolo began to surface weeks ago as the season unraveled. NFL Network insider Jason La Canfora reported that former Tennessee Titans coach Jeff Fisheris a leading candidate and someone the Rams would like to pair with a young general manager.

"Contrary to what's been written over the past few weeks, there are not any leading candidates," Rams chief operating officer Kevin Demoff said Monday. "We have not spoken with any candidates. We wanted to make sure until there was a final decision on whether we were going to be making a change -- which was made last night -- that we weren't going to contact anybody. ... That's not to say we're not prepared to move forward in an expeditious manner, but we will get it right."

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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