Former Los Angeles Rams and Tennessee Titans head coach Jeff Fisher wants another shot in the NFL, according to CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora. Any team doing this would make a huge mistake and possibly set their franchise back five years.
The St. Louis Rams hired Fisher to be their franchise savior in 2012. Rams fans thought that he would turn around an organization that turned in a league-worst 15-65 record between 2007-2011. Unfortunately, what happened instead was an initial return to respectability followed by a downward spiral in Fisher’s last two years with the Rams. In the end, Fisher’s performance showed that the game passed him by long before the Rams hired him.
Here’s a timeline of Fisher’s entire NFL head coaching career.
His Houston/Tennessee record
Fisher compiled a respectable 142-120 record with the Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans in 17 seasons. However, under a microscope, it doesn’t hold up.
He compiled only six winning seasons during his career with the franchise, four of which came during quarterback Steve McNair’s tenure. Fisher posted just two winning seasons in his last seven with the Titans. Overall, he led the team to one AFC championship (two title game appearances), but he also finished with a 4-6 record in the playoffs.
The numbers get worse. Fisher’s Oilers/Titans teams finished in the top 10 for total yards just three times, and never in the top five. They finished in the top five for points scored only once, and in the top 10 twice.
Defensively, Fisher’s reputation stood tall across the league. However, his record shows several ups and downs. His teams finished in the top half of the NFL in total yards allowed in only 9 of 17 seasons. Fisher’s teams finished in the bottom half of the league in five of his last seven seasons with the Titans.
When the Rams hired Fisher, I saw this record and argued that Fisher deserved some grace due to him being handcuffed by his meddling owner, Bud Adams.
I was wrong.
The truth is that Fisher lived off his reputation for taking the Titans to Super Bowl XXXIV much longer than he should have.
“Leading” the St. Louis/Los Angeles Rams
Fisher’s Rams immediately improved in his first season with the team.
St. Louis finished 2-14 in 2011, with a point differential of -214. The 2012 Rams compiled a 7-8-1 record with a -49 point differential. They were actually in the playoff hunt before falling apart at home against Adrian Peterson and the Minnesota Vikings in December.
St. Louis entered the 2013 season with higher expectations and struggled throughout the year. Unfortunately, quarterback Sam Bradford suffered his first ACL tear against the Carolina Panthers, essentially ending his career with the Rams. Kellen Clemens stepped in and held down the fort as the team finished 7-9 with a -16 point differential. The Rams scored 348 points that season, which is the most they put on the board throughout Fisher’s tenure.
Fisher and his staff never improved on those numbers. They fielded an unimaginative offense and failed to produce a mature, disciplined defense. In fact, Fisher’s Rams were the most penalized team in the league under his tutelage by a long shot.
He promised to focus on a “culture change” during his final season, but he ultimately failed. The truth is he failed at every turn.
Fisher compiled a 31-45-1 mark with the Rams and never won more than seven games. His offenses were horrid, and his teams were a fundamental mess.
I covered the Fisher tenure for Rams Talk. We made the case on multiple occasions that Fisher had to go. When the Rams finally pulled the trigger, I wrote the following:
“Fisher was hired to bring this franchise back from the depths. It hasn’t recorded a winning season since 2003 and hasn’t even finished with a .500 mark since 2006. This once-proud franchise has been an embarrassment for much of the last 26 years. Its only reprieve was the “Greatest Show on Turf” years. Fisher was supposed to right that ship.”
He failed to “right the ship.” Fisher almost sunk the whole fleet. He nearly destroyed the Rams’ rollout in L.A., and it’s a price the team continues to pay today. When the Rams opened the 2016 preseason, over 90,000 fans filled the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. They started the 2017 season struggling to get 60,000 to show up for a game. Fisherball ruined it.
Jeff Fisher failed. There is no other way around it. He failed in Tennessee more than he succeeded, and he left a trail of ruined careers behind when the Rams canned him.
There are plenty of fresh, young minds in the NFL right now that deserve a shot at running a team. It’s time for Fisher to move on, and teams should look deeper at the resume he brings to a table before bringing him aboard.
There’s a reason we threw a party the day the Rams fired Fisher.
The game passed him by long, long ago.