Rams' president of football operations Zygmunt resigns

Updated: December 22, 2008, 9:02 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

ST. LOUIS -- Jay Zygmunt, the St. Louis Rams' president of football operations, resigned Monday in the fallout from another terrible season.

Longtime team president John Shaw also is expected to scale back his activities as part of a restructuring under new owner Chip Rosenbloom. The Rams are 2-13 this season, 5-26 the last two years and preparing for their second coaching search in two seasons.

Executive vice president of player personnel Billy Devaney has been working as the de facto general manager in recent weeks and will head the team's coaching search, sources told ESPN senior NFL analyst Chris Mortensen. The list of candidates will include Jim Haslett, who replaced Scott Linehan after an 0-4 start and produced two quick victories, but appears to have no better than an outside shot to be retained.

Haslett, promoted from defensive coordinator, is hoping for a fresh start that would begin with overhauling a defeatist mentality.

"There has to be a togetherness being built at the training camp, there has to be an attitude that you believe that you can win that starts in training camp," Haslett said. "All that stuff, you just don't do that in the middle of the season.

"When you're struggling like we are right now, it's hard to believe that you're going to win a game."

Former Rams great Marshall Faulk acknowledged Monday night that he has an ambition to run a football team but downplayed the idea that he would like to be the next St. Louis head coach, which sources told Mortensen he has proposed.

"I did make a comment to somebody in the organization about being a head coach but it was more philosophical," said Faulk. "I basically said that if a guy like Wade Phillips was available and a Mike Martz, then I could handle being a head coach with those guys as my coordinators. That would be a great combination.

"Look at John Harbaugh in Baltimore -- he gets a Cam Cameron to coach the offense and a Rex Ryan to stay on and coach the defense. That makes the job a lot easier because I really think being a head coach in the NFL may be the toughest job in sports.

"My [vision] is more aimed at being in the front office. That's what I want to do. I'd love to [run a team]. If not, then I'm happy working in television."

Faulk, an analyst with the NFL Network, previously has expressed his desire to work for the Rams or another team.

Rams sources said at this time Faulk is not included in their plans to re-structure the front office and hire a new coach.

The Rams have lost the last two games at the finish, 17-16 on Sunday to the 49ers and 23-20 the previous week against the Seahawks. The 49ers scored the go-ahead touchdown even though two wide receivers went to the same spot and three defenders were close by.

"I mean, it's just crazy," safety Oshiomoghe Atogwe said Sunday. "I see it on video games, playing Madden.

"It's just kind of a summation for how the season's been going."

The Rams have lost nine in a row heading into the season finale at Atlanta on Sunday. It's the franchise's longest losing streak since the move to St. Louis in 1995.

Zygmunt is in his 27th season with the Rams and has been in charge of managing the salary cap, coordinating the draft and signing players. He was part of perhaps the biggest deal in franchise history, getting Faulk from the Colts for draft picks in a move that propelled the Rams to their only Super Bowl championship after the 1999 season.

His star has faded in recent seasons, however, beginning with a falling out with coach Martz in 2005. Linehan, in his first head coaching shot at any level, won only three of his last 20 games -- most of the losses routs -- before being fired in late September.

Attendance has been poor in recent seasons, with the last two home games of 2008 failing to sell out and six games in all blacked out on local TV the last three years. Other games sold out the last two seasons only because of strong representation from visiting teams.

Recent drafts have been spotty at best, with none of the six first-round picks from 2000-03 still with the team. First-round pick Steven Jackson is the lone survivor from 2004 and tackle Alex Barron, the first-rounder in 2005, has been solid at best, but with a penchant for false starts. Cornerback Tye Hill, the first-rounder in 2006, has been injury prone while missing most of the last two seasons.

As for Zygmunt, in a release, the franchise said the parties "mutually agreed that he will not return to the team following the 2008 season."

Zygmunt joined the Rams as general counsel in 1982, was promoted to vice president in 1988, senior vice president in 1991 and executive vice president in 1996. He has been in his current post since February 2004.

"It has been an honor and a privilege to have been part of one of the NFL's most storied franchises," Zygmunt said in a release. "I have been fortunate to have worked for and with some very special people."

Rosenbloom inherited the team along with his sister after the death of their mother, Georgia Frontiere, in January. He noted that Zygmunt had been a "dear friend" to his mother.

"I want to thank Jay for his dedication and loyalty to this organization," Rosenbloom said. "Jay has been a vital part of our front office."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

ALSO SEE