I never really had a problem with the hiring of Jeff Fisher. If I could go back in time I would have made the same decision five years ago that the Rams did: hire the best man for the job. At the time, Jeff Fisher was the best man for the job.
We were hideous before Jeff Fisher. The worst team in the NFL. That’s documented. The year that Jeff Fisher joined us we were coming off the worst 5-year record in NFL history. That’s bad. That’s historically bad. We had no talent, no drive, no direction, and no business playing in the NFL.
Then, Jeff Fisher became available to us.
I said at the time, though no one really listened to me back then, that Jeff Fisher was the perfect 5-year hire. Fisher had a history of putting competitive ball clubs on the field that played hard, stayed in virtually every game, and eked out 8-8 records most years. Occasionally, his teams won a few more games than 8; occasionally a few less. But, mostly, they competed and hung around the .500 mark.
That’s what I wanted. A new culture of competitiveness. I wasn’t asking to go from 3-13 to 13-3 because, frankly, I didn’t see that kind of coach out there at the time. Jeff, I said, get us back to respectability. Get us back to the middle of the pack. If, in 5 years, we make the playoffs a couple times, great. If not, get us a chance in a few Decembers so that Rams football is fun again. Okay, Jeff said, I’ll do it.
That first year, he got us to 7-8-1, just as he promised. Well, he didn’t promise the tie but nonetheless, it was right there. We were an improved ball club. We were on the rise. The next year, about the same. The next year, a little dip.
That was enough for me.
At that point in time, after his third season, I figured we’d seen about all we were going to see from a Jeff Fisher team and it was time to move on. I fired him. Thanks, Jeff, for getting us back to mediocrity, now I need someone in there to take us to the next level. Okay, he said, thanks for the opportunity. I began looking for a new coach.
But the Rams didn’t.
The Rams kept him; they kept Jeff Fisher employed. Because of that, Jeff Fisher nabbed a running back #10 overall in the next draft, much to my chagrin. We had been running the ball just fine with a committee and we had bigger needs. Much bigger needs. Needs on the offensive line. My hashtag, #FireJeffFisher, started back then.
Todd Gurley, the running back we nabbed as a luxury we did not need, ran fine. We finished another mediocre 7-9 and Jeff Fisher headed into his 4th offseason. It was a good one, that offseason, because it was the offseason that took the Rams from their 30-year vacation to St Louis back to their home in LA. That’s really all I expected in that offseason, the move. But Jeff Fisher made another cockamamie move, his last one. He traded up to the 1st pick in the draft to grab the 2nd best QB available. Now we had a new home, a new QB, a semi-new RB, no offensive line and the same old mediocre coach. We were screwed. I said it. I said Jeff Fisher just drafted the nail in his coffin. I said that someone else will be developing Jared Goff because the best we can hope for from a rookie QB on this roster was a 6-10 record, and a 6-10 record would get Jeff fired.
The Rams went 4-12 and Jeff Fisher got fired. He was finally gone, two years too late. Now he hands the program over to somebody else, with as many question marks as the team had five years ago. Get us back to mediocrity, I said, then go away. He said okay. He lied. He lingered just long enough to get us back to historically bad.
Thank you, Jeff Fisher, for your time with the organization. Thank you for three or four years of almost getting back to .500 football. Thank you for making us tougher, sticking around too long, and making us weak again. Here’s your $35 million dollars, now go away.
The next person to step in has their work cut out for them. They have to rebuild the worst offensive line in football. They have to develop an offense without a wide receiver, with a struggling running back, and without a proven quarterback. They have to modernize the team that Jeff Fisher stuck in the 80’s.
Thank you again, Jeff Fisher.
The good news is that this is a year it can be done. There are some really good, young coaches out there with innovative ideas, coaches who have grown up in the modern era of the pass-first, run-next, score-points NFL. Offense brings fans. Offense wins games. Defense wins championships but offense wins games and there still isn’t a team in the NFL that can get to a championship without winning games. Start there, Coach Next-Guy, start there.
I’ll tell you who I want and I’ll tell you what I want from him and I’ll tell you how long I want him to stick around next time we talk. I’ll tell you, but you won’t listen. Jeff Fisher didn’t listen last time. The Rams didn’t listen last time. That’s the plight of the die-hard fan: we always know what’s best for the team, but the team never listens.
No matter how hard I yell.
So long, Jeff Fisher. You did your best and that was exactly what I expected you’d do. You weren’t cut out to be a winner, just a guy who could get a team to try for a couple of years. You did. We tried. Now we need to excel, and that’s a job for another guy.
I only wish you’d known that sooner.