Thursday, January 12, 2012
Considerations while waiting for Jeff Fisher
By Mike Sando
A little perspective is in order for those of us (me included) growing weary of the wait for Jeff Fisher to cast his coaching future with the St. Louis Rams or Miami Dolphins.
Sometimes, these things take time.
The Rams' previous coach, Steve Spagnuolo, was not hired until later in January 2009, on the 17th. The other NFC West teams hired their current coaches between the seventh and 14th days of January in various years.
My thoughts on Fisher and the Rams at the moment:
- Upgrading is key. Spagnuolo's 10-38 record made staying the course untenable. Still, firing him was the right move only if the team could upgrade the position. Fisher is one of 16 coaches in NFL history to coach 262 or more games. His Tennessee teams posted five seasons with double-digit victories in the 2000s alone, and six overall. The Titans also went 8-8 five times and 7-9 twice. The Rams were never better than 7-9 under Spagnuolo. Fisher has been better than 7-9 in 11 of his 16 full seasons as a head coach. That makes Fisher an upgrade.
- Perceptions matter. The Rams worked hard and spent money buying up tickets to avoid local television blackouts this past season. They need victories on and off the field to build any sort of lasting momentum, however. Landing Fisher would be a big one. Losing him would hurt perceptions amid reports Fisher has reservations about the team relocating. The locals already know owner Stan Kroenke can break the team's lease with the Edward Jones Dome following the 2014 season. They fear the team will move. Kroenke isn't helping perceptions, in my view, by interviewing Fisher and the other candidates from Denver instead of St. Louis.
- Settling for backup candidates. The Rams continue to conduct and arrange interviews with candidates other than Fisher, as they should. Carolina's Rob Chudzinski and Denver's Dennis Allen are among the names confirmed by the team. Ray Horton has also interviewed. Some of these candidates might do a better job than Fisher would have done, but if the Rams thought this were the case heading into the process, they would not have put Fisher atop their list. Making a play for Fisher was smart and bold. The Rams had to like their chances. But what if they fail? The Rams went 2-14 last season despite employing two of the NFL's more highly regarded schemers in Spagnuolo and Josh McDaniels. They would be fortunate to upgrade from those two while taking their chances with less accomplished coordinator types. Either way, though, the next coach will almost certainly fare better than 10-38.
Gotta run. Hope to see you at the NFC West chat, set to begin here at 1 p.m. ET.