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Here's hoping Joe Vitt loses "interim" label
By Bryan Burwell
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
Saturday, Oct. 29 2005
Joe Vitt walks off the practice field every afternoon at Rams Park with the
slow, cautious pace of a reluctant man heading to the dentist's chair. All day
long, he is immersed in the X's and O's details of a head coach. There are
meetings and film sessions. There are more meetings and plenty of practice.
This is the stuff the interim boss positively loves. He's an old-school
coaching lifer, not some public relations-savvy smooth talker. So that's why
the Rams' provisional head coach doesn't particularly look forward to these
daily chatfests with the local media. It's a necessary evil, not an eager
adventure. Yet the more Vitt meets the press, the better he gets at it,
confronting each question with the blunt force of an old linebacker ramming
into a pile of bodies.
I love this guy. I don't know much about his X's and O's yet, but I love him.
There's been a lot of talk about coaches over the past few days in this
miniseries called "As Rams Park Turns." We've heard about Mike Martz, who is on
sick leave, but hardly on inactive duty as he digs his heels into the political
trenches to save his job. We've heard a lot about "coach" Jay Zygmunt, the
wheeling, dealing director of football operations, who fancies himself as a
gridiron mover and shaker, clumsily attempting to hasten Martz's exit, while
plotting the ascension of any number of folks on his coaching wish list.
We've heard about Notre Dame's Charley Weis. We've heard about Chargers
assistant Cam Cameron, and Miami assistant Scott Lenihan. We've heard about
Greg Williams and Russ Grimm and Donnie Henderson and even Rams offensive
coordinator Steve Fairchild, the guy whose shoulder Ziggy loves looking over
What I can't understand is why no one is even thinking about Joe Vitt.
Wouldn't it be something if this no-nonsense, anti-political animal ends up as
the last man standing in this bitter political game of survival of the fittest
at Rams Park? Wouldn't it be something if the guy no one in the executive
suites in Earth City has even feigned interest in, ends up rudely injecting
himself into this unsettling coaching derby?
The only way this happens is if Joe Vitt can win ballgames.
Imagine the predicament that would ensue if the Rams decided to rally around
Vitt and finished off this season on a winning note. Imagine how difficult it
would be for them to ignore Vitt if he not only got the Rams to win, but did it
with a mood-altering style that relied on a run-oriented, smash-mouth offense
and a suddenly aggressive, attacking defense?
So I'm rooting for Joe Vitt because apparently no one else is. Vitt is doing
everything he can to make this crazy, mixed-up world seem normal for his
players, even though it is a near-impossible mission.
We already know what is on the minds of John Shaw and Zygmunt. Shaw's pipe
dream is that he'll be able to patch things up between Martz and Ziggy, but
knows it will never happen. So he's already compiled his own shopping list, and
has probably compared his list with Zygmunt's. Practically everyone is on this
list. Everyone, that is, except Vitt.
Meanwhile Zygmunt's overt courtship of various NFL coordinators continues with
all the subtly of a heavy metal concert. Do we know anyone Ziggy hasn't lusted
after? Last week, he searched the Internet for a newspaper report out of South
Bend that talked about a $1.5 million escape clause in Notre Dame head coach
Charley Weis' contract that allowed him to leave the school for an NFL head
So it must have broken his heart with news out of South Bend on Saturday that
Weis was taken out of play after receiving a 10-year contract extension that
will keep him at Notre Dame for a very long time. Good for Weis. Even better
for Joe Vitt. I don't know if he can turn this thing around. Heck, I'm not sure
Vince Lombardi could steady this turbulent mess right now. But if he does, Vitt
deserves to be stuck right at the top of that not-so-private wish list.
Re: Here's hoping Joe Vitt loses "interim" label
Vitt has done a very good job getting the Rams back into contention in the standings after a heartbreaking loss to Seattle and a road loss to Indianapolis that put the Rams at 2-4. The Rams have showed a lot of heart, overcoming an early deficit against the Saints and a number of injuries against the Jags to return to 4-4. If Mike Martz does not return as the Rams' head coach next season, I think Vitt is beginning to make a very strong case toward pushing his own resumé onto Shaw's desk. I'm anxious to see what happens in Seattle after the bye.
Still, for those of you frustrated by clock management and challenge issues, Vitt has shown that the apple may not have fallen far from the tree. The Rams used an early timeout in the game after being unable to get a playcall in in time, and had only one timeout to use during their two-minute drill at the end of the first half. Vitt also challenged the Wilford touchdown catch that, judging by what Savard and Snow were saying on the radio broadcast I was listening to, seemed to be a pretty clear touchdown.
My preference would be for Martz to return, with Vitt being promoted to defensive coordinator, and Fairchild taking on most if not all of the gameday playcalling responsibilities.
Last edited by Nick; -10-30-2005 at 06:19 PM.
Re: Here's hoping Joe Vitt loses "interim" labelOriginally Posted by NickSeiler[SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]