NFL: Should the Rams Let Go of Jeff Fisher?
When the St. Louis Rams hired Jeff Fisher back in 2012, it was based on the notion that he would help bring the franchise back to prominence in the NFL. However, it has been a slow, frustrating process, with the team likely missing the playoffs for the fourth straight season under his leadership.
It hasn’t exactly been a successful tenure for Fisher. The Rams currently hold a 25-35-1 record; winning seven games in a regular season at most, while placing no higher than third in the NFC West standings. There was the expectation that it would be a bumpy journey during the first two seasons as Fisher acclimated the team to his coaching style and obtained the type of player personnel that fits the mold, with a strong running game and defense to boot.
In his fourth year with the team, it finally looked like Fisher pieced together that type of team. The Rams selected former Georgia standout running back, Todd Gurley, with the 10th overall pick in this year’s draft. They built a young but talented defense headlined by a strong core including Robert Quinn, Aaron Donald, James Laurinaitis, Alec Ogletree, and Janoris Jenkins. St. Louis appeared to finally get over the hump through the first seven games of the season, holding a 4-3 record sitting in playoff contention.
However, the Rams took a tremendous tumble down the standing, dropping five straight games prior to Thursday’s 31-23 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Although they were able to get a much-needed win, it was once again too little too late; their playoff chances appear slim to none with the best outcome finishing at a .500 record.
Although the season has been marred by inconsistent play from the quarterback position — with the failed experiment of offseason addition Nick Foles — it doesn’t overshadow the disappointment of Fisher as the head coach. Yes, he has strung together a talented roster with multiple promising players on both sides of the ball, but it all boils down to the wins-loss record.
As Arizona Cardinals head coach, Bruce Arians, stated last season, the Rams under Fisher prove to be a .500 team at best. This season has featured several bright spots, such as Gurley’s emergence, Donald’s continued rise to stardom, and their win against the Seattle Seahawks in the season opener. That said, it hasn’t equated to sustained success throughout the season, which would’ve put them in serious contention for a playoff spot for the first time since 2006.
There has been more than enough support given to Fisher to develop a team over the last four seasons, and he hasn’t demonstrated that he can lead them beyond being a competitive team in the NFC West. With all this in mind, the Rams are reportedly keeping Fisher as the head coach through the 2016 season, which is the final year of his five-year, $35 million contract with the team. Team owner Stan Kroenke has no intention of letting his head coach go, especially as he makes a strong push to move the team to Los Angeles as early as next season — if given league approval. Kroenke values Fisher’s vast experience as a head coach in the league and will likely also keep general manager Les Snead, whose contract expires after this season.
The bottom line is that Fisher should be in the hot seat given the team’s results on the field. The Rams are not getting it done under his watch, and there seem to be few repercussions for his mediocrity. He has had more than enough time to turn the Rams into a legitimate playoff team in the league. What this season exemplifies is that it’s time for the Rams to cut ties with Fisher for the betterment of the franchise moving forward. There is way too much talent on the roster for them to sit out the playoffs any longer.