The St. Louis Rams are close to making some big changes when the 2011 regular season comes to a close on Sunday afternoon. Nature hates a vacuum, and so does a non-stop media environment. Jon Gruden and A.J. Smith filled the void earlier in the week, rumored to be in contention for the head coaching and general manager gigs in St. Louis. A report today from Don Banks at SI.com says the Rams are really in play for Jeff Fisher, another big fish in the pool of available coaches.
What's Banks saying about Fisher as Spagnuolo's potential replacement? And rumors about Billy Devaney's next job that will surprise you...after the jump.
First and foremost, Banks cites sources who say that Kroenke has not made up his mind about whether or not to fire Steve Spagnuolo and Billy Devaney; however, Spagnuolo is likely done. Devaney has a chance to survive the purges.
The Rams, and Kroenke's, top choice to replace Spagnuolo is Jeff Fisher, the former Titans head coach who agreed to an amicable break up with the team he coached from 1994 through 2010. Two dots connect Fisher to the Rams.
First, the Demoff angle. As has been pointed out, Fisher's agent is Marvin Demoff, the father of Kevin Demoff, Rams COO and Executive Vice President of Football Operations. Demoff is Kroenke's central point of contact for dealings with the team. From Banks:
There's a comfort zone between the younger Demoff and Fisher, and Demoff is the guy Kroenke relies on most for the day-to-day contact to the club. His say will carry considerable weight.
That cap situation is another factor in making the Rams a desirable landing spot for Fisher. In 2013, the Rams will have between $40-45 million in cap space, according to Demoff. Throw in a bona fide franchise quarterback in Sam Bradford, and it's a nice landing spot for a guy looking to get back in the coaching game.
But what about all that stuff with A.J. Smith and the Chargers?
Some of that rumor seeding has to be coming from someone around Smith, or Smith himself. The Chargers are not guaranteed to fire Smith, and rumors linking him with Gruden and Fisher could be attempts to position himself to stay in San Diego with a new head coach.
Banks says that sources in St. Louis think that Smith will end up sticking with the Chargers. Smith and Fisher might not have the chemistry for a good working relationship, egos and all that business. If Smith goes, Fisher may be more apt to take a job in San Diego, working with Philip Rivers and the makings for a quick turnaround.
The biggest shock in all of this is Banks leaving the door open to Billy Devaney staying around as the Rams' General Manager. It's shocking after all the talk of draft picks and free agents gone belly up, though the coaches the responsibility for that. In addition to developing, or not developing prospects, Spagnuolo has had a tremendous say in arranging the draft board, even doing some scouting of his own. You don't think all those former Eagles and Giants got brought in without a request from Spags do you? And McDaniels got the team to shake up the draft board this year, picking Lance Kendricks in the second round and following that with two receivers.
Devaney could stick around, according to a source cited by Banks, if Fisher is hired. Fisher would be the man in charge, I would assume. With some clear accountability for the football product, could Devaney and Fisher strike a good working relationship?
It's a lot to process.
We took at look at Gruden yesterday, and we'll take a more in-depth look at Jeff Fisher tomorrow. Suffice it to say that he has his detractors as well.