JavaScript must be enabled to use this chat software. Rams have a front-office rebuilding blueprint

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  1. #1
    eldfan's Avatar
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    Rams have a front-office rebuilding blueprint

    By Jeff Gordon

    Once upon a time, Rams executives and coaches worked in harmony to convert a laughingstock into a Super Bowl champion.

    The year was 1999. The team was coming off a 4-12 season. There was great public unrest. Fans groused about the folks running the franchise, the same executives who allowed the Rams to deteriorate in Southern California.

    Owner Georgia Frontiere took heat. So did team president John Shaw and president-to-be Jay Zygmunt. Fans called for the head of coach Dick Vermeil.

    This sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

    Change was needed that year, just as change is needed now. Back then, the decision-makers made all the right moves.

    Back then, those who survived worked with the newcomers to change the environment at Rams Park. Now the organization must try to do it again.

    At least those charged with this huge task will have a case study to reflect upon. The 1999 Rams showed how it could be done.

    Look at the role each principal played:

    FRONTIERE: She gave her staff enough money to build a winner – and then she stayed out of the day-to-day business. Her people had the freedom to run the business as they saw fit.

    SHAW: Although he still kept an office in Los Angeles, he kept his eye on the store. Rather than fire Vermeil, Shaw convinced him to alter his coaching approach and revamp the offense. When the Colts opted to deal running back Marshall Faulk, Shaw helped engineer the blockbuster trade.

    ZYGMUNT: He deftly managed the salary cap. As luck would have it, the ’98 Rams featured lots of expiring contracts. He created ample cap room for Faulk, free agents Trent Green and Adam Timmerman, top draft pick Torry Holt and others.

    VERMEIL: He agreed to hire Mike Martz as offensive coordinator and turn him loose. He also eased up on the troops and built a stronger rapport with team leaders. He rallied behind unknown quarterback Kurt Warner when Green suffered a season-ending knee injury. He did a masterful job of game coaching from start to finish. His infectious optimistic and remarkable work ethic pulled the whole organization together.

    MARTZ: He created a cutting edge offensive scheme, accentuating the team’s speed. He choreographed “The Greatest Show on Turf,” using exotic personnel groupings, empty backfields and lots of motion to get his skilled players the ball in space. Green was supposed to run this offense like a point guard, but he got hurt. Warner, a totally different type of quarterback, stepped in and made the attack even better – thanks to his ability to heave the deep ball. Defending these guys in the dome on artificial turf was nearly impossible.

    CHARLEY ARMEY: The personnel wizard made all the right moves, including signing middle linebacker London Fletcher as an undrafted free agent. Holt and cornerback Dre’ Bly became impact rookies. No-name offensive linemen Mike Gruttadauria, Tom Nutten and Andy McCollum (a fill-in that year) provided strength up front.

    All these principals did a great job. So did the players. A soft schedule helped the Rams build momentum and good health helped them keep it.

    An epic one-year reversal of fortune brought St. Louis its championship parade. But then Vermeil retired prematurely, Martz replaced him a coach . . . and little by little, the well-oiled machine began falling apart.

    Martz made a power grab. So did Zygmunt. They pushed Armey into the background, then out the door. Their personnel decisions backfired. Players got hurt and/or got old.

    Martz came unglued and got canned. Shaw replaced him with Scott Linehan, who failed miserably. Frontiere died, leaving the team to her kids, Chip Rosenbloom and Lucia Rodriguez. Rosenbloom and Shaw cashiered Linehan.

    Zygmunt flopped as president of football operations, so he got canned too. Billy Devaney, brought about to run the personnel department, gained the authority to run the show and lead the next coaching search.

    And, oh yeah, the franchise went up for sale. Rosenbloom and Rodriguez have no long-term aspirations to own and operate a NFL team. That was their mother’s thing, but it’s not theirs.

    So the Rams are at the crossroads again. The franchise has an opportunity to revamp its operation, again, and turn a terrible team into a contender.

    Can it happen again? Your cyber-correspondent is skeptical, because the franchise lacks a strong, unifying force capable of pulling everybody together.

    Vermeil provided that in 1999 and we saw what happened after he left. The in-fighting turned ugly. A strong team president could keep the next regime in line, but it appears that Chip and Lucia may not hire such a leader.

    Will they employ a stopgap regime to run things while the franchise is for sale? Or can they build a strong organization capable of attracting better coaches and players?

    History tells us that transformations are possible in the NFL. But history also tells us that a LOT has to happen.

    Zygmunt’s exit is a step in the right direction, but it is just one step. A massive challenge awaits all those who come aboard.

  2. #2
    ramsanddodgers's Avatar
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    Re: Rams have a front-office rebuilding blueprint

    and that resulted in my owning the ugliest Super Bowl Champion ball cap that at the same time still a beautiful thing to see!

    GO RAMS!!

  3. #3
    Keenum's Avatar
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    Re: Rams have a front-office rebuilding blueprint

    If we do a complete rebuild, I would be able to put up with a year or two of rebuilding. BUT if they think it's a good idea to keep most of the guys in, there is NO excuse for no improvement.

  4. #4
    ScottD413 Guest

    Re: Rams have a front-office rebuilding blueprint

    Jeff Gordon = Captain Buzzkill

  5. #5
    Nick's Avatar
    Nick is online now Superbowl MVP
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    Re: Rams have a front-office rebuilding blueprint

    Quote Originally Posted by ramsanddodgers View Post
    and that resulted in my owning the ugliest Super Bowl Champion ball cap that at the same time still a beautiful thing to see!
    No kidding, huh? I'm happy that I own one, but I hope someone was fired over that design, good lord!

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