This week, LA Rams head coach Jeff Fisher said Danny Woodhead was a good player for the New England Patriots (he hasn’t played there since 2012, is on IR for the San Diego Chargers) and lost his challenge flag with the Rams currently trailing the Patriots 26-3, but those would be silly reasons to get rid of someone. Fisher may be the butt of a lot of jokes, the “Mark Sanchez of head coaches” if you will, but that didn’t stop LA owner Stan Kroenke from giving him a two-year extension to keep him with the Rams through 2018.
So what would be some good reasons to have not extended Fisher as a head coach?
- The Rams are going to be 4-8 after their loss to New England, guaranteeing Fisher can do no better than 8-8 (which as we all know, fits him as well as 7-9) but more than likely will lose 10 or 11 or 12 games.
- Fisher’s record with the Rams is 31-44-1. He’s finished with a losing record in each of his four seasons prior to this one, which is his worst with the team so far.
- When hired in 2012, Fisher said he saw a “quick turnaround” for the team and that they could be back on the winning track soon. Of course, they will have not posted a winning record in any of his five seasons. They even moved the team from St. Louis to Los Angeles after four years, where a playoff appearance or two may have made that transition improbable. (Conspiracy theorists rejoice? Guarantee a bigger market by guaranteeing 7-9 bullshit and then doubling-down less than one year into your first season in the big city?)
- Fisher took the job over the one with the Miami Dolphins, potentially because he wanted more control. The Dolphins hired Joe Philbin instead and fired him after three seasons. Philbin’s record in those seasons: 7-9, 8-8, 8-8.
- During his intro press conference, Fisher also mentioned that he liked that the Rams already had a franchise quarterback, number one overall pick Sam Bradford. They traded Bradford for Nick Foles two seasons later. In one season, Foles started 11 games, went 4-7, threw seven touchdowns and 10 interceptions with a passer rating of 69 that could only make Rob Gronkowski proud to have him as his QB.
- The next answer at QB, Jared Goff, cost them two first, two second, and two third round picks. On Sunday, Goff was 13-of-31 for 159 yards, no touchdowns, and two interceptions before throwing a meaningless touchdown as I write this with 1:15 to go and down three scores. Goff will be the first QB number one overall pick since JaMarcus Russell to play this little as a rookie, having made just three starts.
- The 2017 first round pick they gave up looks like it could easily be in the top 10.
- Fisher also liked that the team had the number two overall pick when they hired him and then shortly later, GM Les Snead, in 2012. They traded down from 2 to 6 (Washington moved up for Robert Griffin III) and then from 6 to 14, selecting defensive tackle Michael Brockers. They ultimately ended up with Brockers, Janoris Jenkins (left for the New York Giants), Alec Ogletree, Isaiah Pead (gone), Rokevious Watkins (gone), Stedman Bailey (gone), Zac Stacy (gone), and 2013 second overall pick Greg Robinson. Brockers and Ogletree are good players but their best opportunity to get a game-changing player in 2013 was a strikeout by taking Robinson over Khalil Mack and the receiving trio of Sammy Watkins, Mike Evans, and Odell Beckham Jr.
- Snead also got a two-year extension.
- Fisher hasn’t posted a winning record with any team since 2008, when he was with the Tennessee Titans. His last winning season came before the MLB Network existed, when Late Night with Conan O’Brien was still a TV show (before he took over The Tonight Show), when Michael Jackson was still alive, and people were still watching new episodes of Monk. His last playoff win came in 2003 when Frasier was still on the air, LOST hadn’t premiered yet, Ronald Reagan and Pat Tillman were still alive, and the song “This Love” hadn’t propelled Maroon 5 to stardom yet. The only time in his 22 seasons as a head coach that Fisher won more than one playoff game in a season (he’s only won a playoff game in 3 of 22 seasons) was in 1999 when he took the Titans to the Super Bowl and lost to the Rams, Bill Clinton was president, we had just survived Y2K, Santana hadn’t took the nation by storm with “Smooth” and “Maria Maria,” the reality show Survivor hadn’t premiered yet, films like Gladiator, the first X-Men, and Almost Famous hadn’t been released, and Walter Mathau was still alive.
- He needs two more losses to pass Dan Reeves for the most all-time.
It’s fascinating to watch a franchise commit themselves so hard to a coach who has exhibited almost no success with over two decades to prove what he can do. The Titans could have fired him after not posting a winning record in any of his first four seasons, but they didn’t. They could have fired him a disappointing 7-9 season in 2001, but they didn’t. For going 5-11 in 2004, 4-12 in 2005, and 8-8 in 2006, but they didn’t. They finally did after 2010 and he spent one year out of the NFL before returning in 2012 with the then-St. Louis Rams. They could have fired him a year ago, but they didn’t. It would then seem reasonable that a 4-8 record gets him let go as Goff proves nothing, Todd Gurley burls ahead for another 2-yard gain, and they go further in the hole with the worst point differential during his time with the franchise, but instead they commit to him for two more years. I don’t know if he’s an excellent speaker (doesn’t show that in press conferences or Hard Knocks, but maybe), and excellent organizational leader (despite no results for said leadership), or has excellent people doing his blackmailing research, but Fisher could get season 23 and season 24 to try and turn things around for LA. At least The Simpsons won the Super Bowl of television six or seven times in the 90s. At least South Park is consistently great. At least Survivor continues to get ratings and be watchable. The Rams are often the least-watchable team in the NFL. And here we are, with more Fisher on the horizon.
No matter how many times they beat the Seahawks, I still say, Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Whatever your reason for committing to Fisher while they hold onto Aaron Donald, perhaps the best defensive player in the league, and drag him down to another losing record, I say ... Thank you.