Assessing the Jay Zygmunt era (error?) with the Rams
By Reid Laymance


Question: What was Jay Zygmunt’s best move and worst move with the Rams?

Jay’s best move was his work on the trade that brought cornerback Aeneas Williams to St. Louis on the day of the 2001 draft. There were a whole bunch of bad moves including the phasing out of Charley Armey, his role in the demise of Mike Martz, any number of bad draft picks, the decision to let middle linebacker London Fletcher leave as a free agent, and the Drew Bennett debacle. Just a disastrous reign of error. But his worst move was reaching to grab a job that he wasn’t qualified for. A man’s got to know his limitations and Zygmunt wasn’t a football guy. That didn’t stop him from making himself the football czar at Rams Park.

His best move was packing his office up and heading towards the door. His worst move was believing that he was a football man and accepting the GM job, which sent this franchise on this downward spiral.

Following the disappointment of a wild-card berth in 2000 — yes, expectations were much higher back then — Zygmunt went into full Trader Jay mode. He helped engineer the trade of franchise player Kevin Carter to Tennessee in March, and on draft day sent quarterback Trent Green to Kansas City. As a result, the Rams had three first-round picks in the 2001 draft. As a topper, he completed a deal on Day 2 of the draft that brought Arizona Cardinals Pro Bowl cornerback Aeneas Williams to St. Louis.
The worst move? Allowing his relationship with Mike Martz to deteriorate to the point where one of them had to leave the organization. Obviously, Martz left after the 2005 campaign. Granted, Martz was high maintenance, but also one of the league’s most creative offensive minds. The offense has disintegrated since he’s left.

Before the 1999 Super Bowl season, in the days before anyone claimed to be a mastermind, Zygmunt played a major role in reorganizing the staff of coach Dick Vermeil, in particular the hiring of Mike Martz as offensive coordinator. Among Zygmunt’s worst moments was the 2001 draft, in which the Rams whiffed on three first-round picks: Damoine Lewis was a bust, Adam Archuleta flamed out after a couple years, and the team gave up on Ryan Pickett, who blossomed in Green Bay.

Best move: Not letting Kevin Carter manage the salary cap for him back in 2000. King Kevin moved on to Tennessee in 2001 and had a mediocre season for the Titans. The Rams kept their other cornerstone players, won 14 games in ‘01 and went to the Super Bowl.
Worst move: The massive Marc Bulger contract. This gift keeps on giving. The Rams can’t really move Bulger out now, so the team can’t throw much money at that position for next season. Pity the next coach in 2009.

Although other front-office folks were involved too, Zygmunt’s best move was his role in the trade that brought Marshall Faulk to the Rams in the 1999, arguably the key cog in the Rams’ improbable march to the Super Bowl championship. His worst move was letting free agents London Fletcher and Ryan Pickett walk. The Rams sure could use a solid middle linebacker and a stout defensive tackle these days.



229 — The Rams have been outscored by 229 points with only one game left in the season. Since 1990, only four teams have been outscored by more points over a full season. Thank goodness the Lions are just as bad. They have been outscored by 239 points. This week, the Rams are at Atlanta and Detroit is at Green Bay.
1990: New England, 265 (with the great Rod Rust as coach)
2000: Cleveland, 258 (year after expansion)
1991: Indianapolis, 238 (Rams assistant Rick Venturi was the interim coach)
2000: Arizona, 233