While it remains to be seen if there will be a new coach roaming the sidelines for the St. Louis Rams next season, one thing is for certain.
The person calling the shots for the Rams organization will be different.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Monday that Ramsâ€™ vice president of football operations/general manager Jay Zygmunt would soon be out. That timetable was sped up to Monday afternoon when the team announced that the Rams and Zygmunt mutually agreed to part ways.
Jay Zygmunt has been a lightning rod for controversy in recent years, mainly because of his ascension to a high-profile position in charge of football decisions despite never having an on-field background.
Zygmunt, who has been with the Rams since 1982, previously was the man in charge of legal matters, the salary cap and contract negotiations and was highly regarded for his performance in those areas. But after the Ramsâ€™ Super Bowl victory following the 1999 season, his authority expanded to include that of president of football operations.
Mike Martz was a rookie head coach in 2000, Jay Zygmunt was a rookie in charge of football operations and Charlie Armey was a veteran talent evaluator at the time and well-respected in league circles. Armey had the title of general manager, but he didnâ€™t pull the most weight in regards to authority.
It made for a sometimes crazy and uncomfortable situation and it came to a boil during the 2005 season when Martz was sidelined due to health issues. During an October game, Martz called then-offensive coordinator Steve Fairchild at halftime to offer some advice. Martz, who was not at the game, again tried to contact Fairchild via a phone call to security in the second half, but Zygmunt headed off the security guard and sent him to team president John Shawâ€™s suite. Shaw refused to let Fairchild take the call from Martz, saying he would not grant an outside live phone into the coachesâ€™ box. In January 2006, Martz was relieved of his duties as head coach.
Zygmuntâ€™s departure signals a major change in the way the Ramsâ€™ front office will operate. Not only will Jay Zygmunt not be there, itâ€™s expected that Shawâ€™s role with the team will be diminished. Itâ€™s believed that Shaw is looking to ease into retirement and will stay on only to advise new owners Chip Rosenbloom and Lucia Rodriguez on financial matters. Shaw was close to Rosenbloom and Rodriguezâ€™s mother, Georgia Frontiere, who previously owned the team.
Billy Devaney, the Ramsâ€™ vice president of personnel, is expected to have more say in the teamâ€™s matters and perhaps lead a search for the teamâ€™s next head coach.