Stats & Info: Jeff Fisher

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.
Finishing one yard short of a chance at a Super Bowl victory left Jeff Fisher as an outlier on a number of impressive statistical lists.

Jeff Fisher's 142 regular-season wins with the Titans franchise are the sixth-most by any coach with a single franchise during the Super Bowl era (since 1966). However, each of the five coaches with more (Don Shula, Tom Landry, Chuck Noll, Joe Gibbs and Bill Cowher) has at least one Super Bowl victory.

Since 1995, Jeff Fisher's first full season as head coach, he led the Titans to the fifth-best winning percentage in the AFC, and eighth-best in the NFL.

However, each of the four AFC teams with a better record won at least one Super Bowl. Fisher lost in his lone Super Bowl appearance, Super Bowl XXXIV, which ended with Kevin Dyson being tackled by St. Louis Rams linebacker Mike Jones at the one-yard line in a 23-16 defeat.

Fisher’s 142 career regular-season wins are the most in franchise history, 87 more than the coach with the next-most, Bum Phillips (55 with the Houston Oilers from 1975 to 1980). The 87-win differential between the top two coaches is tied for the fifth-largest in NFL history, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, but well behind the all-time leading Miami Dolphins (Shula 257, Dave Wannstedt 42).

Fisher had six winning seasons and six losing seasons in his time as Titans coach. That’s the fewest winning seasons for anyone with at least 100 NFL wins.

What did Fisher in? Though the Titans had issues at the quarterback position, their points-per-game averages were nearly identical in each of the last three seasons (23.4, 22.1 and 22.3).

Had Vince Young been fully healthy and had a better relationship with Fisher, perhaps things would have been different.

In his 10 games this season, our video review team found that Young was 25-for-35 for four touchdowns in play-action situations. Partly due to the presence of Chris Johnson, Young rated the second-best in the NFL in completion percentage and passer rating when play-action passing (minimum 100 attempts) over the last three seasons.

He could blame the Titans defense, which allowed only 14.6 points per game in 2008, yielded 25.1 per game in 2009 and 21.2 in 2010. But both sides of the ball could share blame for the team’s turnover differential, which was -4 in each of the last two seasons.

The Titans biggest issue defensively over the last two seasons was their struggle to generate pressure when sending four or fewer pass rushers.

The Titans allowed only seven touchdowns and recorded 15 interceptions, when rushing four or fewer in 2008. But since then, they yielded 36 touchdowns (netting 30 interceptions), this despite an apparent attempt to solve the problem, by increasing the frequency with which they blitzed.

Fisher’s departure leaves Andy Reid as the NFL’s longest-tenured head coach. He became head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles in 1999. Like Fisher, his record currently includes no Super Bowl victories.

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