If any NFL fan shouted out the words ‘average coach’, most would immediately think of Jeff Fisher. The Titans legend has been at the Rams for four seasons now and has won seven games in three of those, such stats have made him the brunt of jokes including this article over on SB Nation titled ‘Death Taxes and Jeff Fisher going 7-9′. When it was announced he was staying many ridiculed the decision and said it was a symbol of ineptitude of the Rams’ upper management, yet there is actually some sense in keeping him. Sure he is a relatively average coach who only really excels at building good defensive lines, yet in some ways he is the perfect man for this job.
Firstly, to state the obvious, he has done an ok job with the Rams despite never having a lot of talent on the offensive end. His quarterbacks have been Sam Bradford, Nick Foles and Case Keenum and it is expected that none of these will be starters next season. Until this year he didn’t have a running back as talented as Gurley and the team has never had a truly elite reciever. It’s hard to win without an offence especially when you are in the same division as Arizona, San Francisco and Seattle who have all been good over the last four years. He has just inherited Todd Gurley and he managed to perform exquisitely in Fisher’s zone run system. It is questionable how much credit needs to go to Fisher for this but in this year he managed to get a decent record out of a team lacking any kind of offence.
The Rams are obviously known more for their defence, in Robert Quinn and Aaron Donald they have two of the best defensive linemen in the whole of the NFL. The Rams have been in the middle of the road in opposition points per game every year under Fisher (16th, 18th, 19th, 20th) so there is clearly a slow improvement on this end. In reality, players have developed well under Jeff Fisher and this year saw the emergence of guys like Trumaine Johnson and Rodney McLeod in the secondary who both ranked very highly in the pro football focus positional rankings (20th and 12th respectively). Fisher is clearly a good locker room guy who can develop these players on an individual basis and their defence will only get better if recent numbers are to be trusted. The talent is obviously there but he has put it together and got stuff out of guys who were not high draft picks. Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams has no doubt help but you cannot absolve credit from Jeff Fisher. His old fashioned style is getting small results and it is hard to really put too much criticism his way.
The main reason he should stay is because of one word which gets thrown around too often in sport, that word is stability. It is an overrated concept that doesn’t really mean an awful lot but right now the Rams need a fair bit of stability. They are one of three teams being considered for an ‘LA Marriage’ by the NFL after Jerry Jones put the idea forward. Right now the future of the franchise is up in the air and firing their coach who seems well liked around the organization would just add extra fuel to the fire. He is a guy who knows the basics and allowing him to continue for another year actually makes a great deal of sense. Some would argue the contrary, that a fresh franchise would need a fresh coaching staff but this could create instability in the locker room, too much change could be disastrous, without sounding like a Conservative.
Whatever happens to this team over the next few days, they should keep their Head Coach, he is a tough experienced guy who can lead them through what will be a tough period adapting to a new environment in Los Angeles. Even if a move doesn’t go through, there will still be uncertainty around the franchise as the ownership will be keeping a franchise in a city they do not want it to be in. Their front office is inept and a move not going through would sum up the Kroneke reign in St. Louis.