St. Louis Rams Decide to Part Ways with Five Assistant Coaches

August 18, 2012; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Rams wide receiver coach Ray Sherman talks with wide receiver Brian Quick (83) in the second half against the Kansas City Chiefs at the Edward Jones Dome. The Rams won 31-17. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
August 18, 2012; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Rams wide receiver coach Ray Sherman talks with wide receiver Brian Quick (83) in the second half against the Kansas City Chiefs at the Edward Jones Dome. The Rams won 31-17. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports /

The St. Louis Rams announced that five coaches on their 26-man mega-staff will not return for the 2016 season.

St. Louis Rams head coach Jeff Fisher announced on Wednesday that five members of his 2015 coaching staff will not have their contracts renewed for the coming season. While the released coaches represent less than 20 percent of Fisher’s massive 26-coach staff, the announced changes represent the biggest mass layoffs of Fisher’s tenure in St. Louis. Prior to the announced changes on Wednesday, just three coaches had departed the staff over Fisher’s four years: linebackers coach Blake Williams, who was fired after the 2012 season, defensive coordinator Tim Walton, who took over for Williams as the playcaller in 2013 but was replaced by Gregg Williams after just one season, and offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, who departed for the University of Georgia after 2014.

Wide receivers coach Ray Sherman, assistant receivers coach Jeff Garcia, running backs coach Ben Sirmans, assistant special teams coach Paul F. Boudreau, and assistant special teams coach Adam Bailey were the five coaches let go. Sherman, Sirmans, Boudreau, and Bailey were all members of Fisher’s inaugural staff in 2012, while Garcia was in his first season with the club after joining the staff during OTAs this year. Bailey was one of the few coaches on the Rams’ staff who pre-dated Fisher; he joined the Rams as a volunteer assistant in 2010 before becoming an assistant strength coach on Steve Spagnuolo’s staff in 2011.

Though it’s quite possible that it was time for a change, especially in regards to the position coaches, it’s also possible that Fisher was ready to cut down on his 26-man coaching staff, which was at 27 coaches this year prior to the midseason dismissal of offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti. Owner Stan Kroenke made it’s clear in the Rams’ relocation statement that Kroenke and his fellow superiors apparently were upset by the fact that their willingness to increase the budget for coaches and scouts did not result in a substantial attendance increase. Now that Kroenke has been armed with the knowledge that NFL fans apparently are not more inclined to attend a game because of the fact that their favorite team has 27 coaches, it’s highly possible that their was pressure from up above to cut some of the excess coaches from the staff.

More from Arch Authority

That was most likely the case with Bailey, who was one of three strength and conditioning coaches on the Rams’ staff. He worked under head strength coach Rock Gullickson for the past four seasons, and another assistant, J. Aggabao, also joined the staff in 2014. If Fisher were being pressured to make staff cuts, the third-string strength coach would seem to be an easy first target.

Boudreau seems like a coach who could have been redundant as an assistant to special teams coordinator John Fassel. It’s also possible that Fisher needed a scapegoat (other than Fassel, one of the highest-regarded coaches on the staff) for the Rams’ special teams play in 2015, which included an obnoxious amount of penalties–particularly on punt returns–and a career-low 66.7 field goal percentage from kicker Greg Zuerlein.

More from St. Louis Rams

On a different note, it should be interesting to see if the move to fire Boudreau is a sign of things to come for his father, Paul T. Boudreau, the team’s offensive line coach. The elder Boudreau generally seemed to do good work in coaching up rookie linemen like Rob Havenstein, Jamon Brown, and Cody Wichmann, and under his guidance Garrett Reynolds and Tim Barnes showed the ability to be respectable NFL starters. However, Boudreau has failed with his most important project–the development of 2014 second overall pick Greg Robinson into an elite left tackle–so it wouldn’t be the biggest surprise to see him pushed out. Removing his son from the staff could be a good way to send a message.

Since the Rams had as few as six and no more than eight receivers between the active roster and practice squad that were with the team at any one point this year, it didn’t really make too much sense to have multiple receivers coaches. It’s not as if Sherman really displayed any impressive results during his four-year tenure, either; draft picks like Brian Quick, Stedman Bailey, and Chris Givens failed to make substantial progress under Sherman, and the highest single-season yardage total that a Rams receiver posted under Sherman was Kenny Britt‘s 748 yards in 2014.

Garcia, a former quarterback who played 12 NFL seasons, may have shown over his one season with the Rams that he wasn’t a good fit as an NFL coach. It was, after all, his first job on an NFL staff. It’s also possible, however, that Fisher just considered him to be excess weight and hadn’t worked with him long enough to have many emotions about the decision.

Sirmans’ dismissal was the most surprising of the five, as he oversaw rookie Todd Gurley, who became the Rams’ first 1,000-yard rusher since 2012 and the first rookie to run for 1,000 yards in St. Louis Rams history. Unless Sirmans simply severed relationships with other members of the staff, the most logical reason for his dismissal is because he failed to make Tre Mason a solid number two back behind Gurley in 2015. Mason, who ran for 765 yards and averaged 4.3 yards per carry as a rookie in 2014, came back in his second year and ran for just 207 yards and an average of 2.8 yards per attempt in significantly reduced action.

Next: Significant Investments: 12 Questionable Checks that Stan Kroenke has Signed as the Rams' Owner

Fisher is now left with a staff of 21 coaches and will need to hire at least two to fill the receivers and running backs coach vacancies, so it’s still highly possible that his staff could include between 25 and 30 coaches again in 2016.