Friday, January 13, 2012
Fisher looks to toughen up Rams
Multiple sources are reporting that Jeff Fisher has accepted an offer to coach the St. Louis Rams, opting to take his talents to the Midwest after spurning a similar job with the Miami Dolphins.
Fisher, considered by many to be the top prize in this offseason’s head coaching sweepstakes, joins the Rams organization after spending 17 seasons with the Oilers/Titans franchise. Only Curly Lambeau spent more time in his first head-coaching job (29 seasons) before taking his second position.
Fisher established quite a legacy while with the Titans franchise, compiling 147 wins from 1994 to 2010, a total that was nearly three times that of the next-closest coach, Bum Phillips (59).
Fisher won three division titles and took the team to its only Super Bowl appearance in franchise history in the 1999 season, losing to the same team he is now set to lead – the Rams.
The rebuilding job in St. Louis will be a huge challenge for Fisher, who had a swift fall from grace over his last three seasons in Tennessee.
The Titans finished with a 13-3 record and the AFC South title in the 2008 regular season, but were upset in the Divisional Playoffs, and then stumbled to an 8-8 record in 2009 and bottomed out at 6-10 last year.
The Rams haven’t had a winning season since 2003 and have an NFL-worst 15 wins since 2007. If total sounds familiar, it’s the same number of games the Green Bay Packers won in 2011 alone.
Steve Spagnuolo, who became Rams coach in 2009, had presided over arguably the most anemic stretch of football in franchise history.
The Rams have lost 14-or-more games three times in their history, and Spagnuolo was the coach for two of them (2009 and 2011). The 2009 and 2011 teams were also the two lowest-scoring Rams teams since the franchise moved away from Cleveland in 1946.
One of the first things on offense that Fisher will look to fix is a passing game that netted the third-fewest yards and fewest touchdowns in the NFL.
Sam Bradford, who started 10 games this year, has really struggled throwing downfield since entering the NFL. His completion percentage of 32.5 on throws 15 air yards or more downfield since 2010 is the worst in the league.
The rushing game, led by workhorse back Steven Jackson, was marginally better than the passing attack this year with a ranking of 23rd in the league. Jackson, who was injured early in the season, wore down in the second half of 2011.
After grinding out more than five yards per carry through Week 10, he averaged just 3.7 yards per rush during the Rams’ seven-game losing streak to end the season.