I won't lie to you, I've completely bought into the notion of Jeff Fisher as the next head coach of the St. Louis Rams. As far as what notion Fisher has bought into, we're still waiting to see and have been for days now against the backdrop of incessant leaks to the press about Fisher leaning one way or another based on various reasons. At what point do the Rams, or the Dolphins for that matter, needs to just cut bait?
Since the collapse of the Greatest Show on Turf, the Rams have been known mostly for their futility. They decayed into a dysfunctional organization marked by power struggles and losing football, facilitated by bad drafts and poor free agent decisions. That started to change in 2009 when the team hired Steve Spagnuolo and Billy Devaney.
Fisher is the next step in the natural progress toward winning.
Things got better, but the newbie head coach was given wide latitude to remake the organization, never having had that kind of power before coming to St. Louis. The result was more dysfunction, only a slightly better record on the personnel side and a confused approach to head coaching.
Fisher represents stability, the chance for the franchise to get on firm footing and lay a foundation for the next ten years, if not more. Throughout this people have pointed to his win loss record and proclivity toward a more conservative offense, but that obscures the better points of Fisher's resume.
As friend of the Doug Farrar pointed out, Fisher's record is only part of the story. He managed a team moving from Houston to Memphis to Nashville to a .500 record, not bad considering the disruption. Fisher also has a knack for getting the most of his players, including talented but troubled guys like Albert Haynesworth, Pacman Jones and Vince Young. Fisher even managed to turn a mess in 2009 into .500, going 8-2 over his the final 10 games. Sometimes the record doesn't tell the whole story.
Even more attractive to the Rams is that Fisher isn't known as a power struggle guy. He hires smart coordinators and lets them coach as they see fit, with an appropriate level of oversight from the head coach. Nowhere was that more evident in the success of Gregg Williams and JIm Schwartz, his defensive coordinators. He's involved in the personnel decisions, but allows the personnel department to do their jobs, playing the players he's given to fit the systems he runs.
You see the difference now between Fisher and Spagnuolo's time at Rams Park.
None of that is to suggest that a first time head coach will not work for the Rams. That would depend in part how the structure of the organization looks and how responsibility is delineated with a first-time head coach. The ghosts of Rams Past still haunted the building when Spagnuolo was hired, continuing the poisonous culture that 3k wrote about while the season spiraled in the abyss.
But here we are, still waiting for a decision from Fisher and the negotiations continue to play out in public. Worst of all for the Rams is that leaks from Fisher's camp, or another party, have created a panic about the team potentially moving in light of the lease situation. That's a genie that isn't going to be put back in the bottle until some dotted lines are signed, regardless of any assurances or effort on the part of the Rams to expand their footprint in the community. Winning game again would also help.
The Rams and Dolphins have both lined up other interviews. They can't wait and let other quality coaches get snatched up by other teams, by competitors. But the questions remains, just how much longer should they wait for Jeff Fisher?