For a team that's won just 15 games in the last five years, the St. Louis Rams seem to have been awfully close to relevance. A week 17 playoff play-in. A popular pick to win the NFC West before the 2011 season. We've been on the precipice.
When Stan Kroenke took over the team, it was a move from concern for financial readiness to market and competitive dominance - a move well explicated by Bryan Burwell on Wednesday. With that move came a need to make a statement to the competition that the Rams are no longer a joke of a franchise.
We're no longer a team that's searching for a post-GSOT identity. We're not led at the top by a reluctance to pull the trigger on big moves, something that people repeatedly criticized ex-GM Billy Devaney for. Regardless of whether or not you "like" the hire, no one can argue that Fisher was the marquee hire here, the most experienced, most respected, most prepared option for teams looking to fill their head coach vacancies. And the Rams got him.
So what should we expect? That's hard to say. Many people will try to suggest that the nature of Fisher's personnel management both in-game and out will apply to the Rams. I'd disagree. He's smart enough to know that you can't smash a square peg into a round circle, and the Rams and his Titans teams just aren't the same shape. There are two things you can expect, though:
- Yelling. Fire. Balls. Emotion. Maybe the one thing that coalesced Rams fans against Steve Spagnuolo, a coach so bereft of emotional displays that the Pope told him to bring it up a notch.
- League-wide respect. Behind the curtain, players, coaches and executives know which teams, which guys are a joke and who's biding their time before taking their looming demotion. That's not the Rams anymore.
We may not make the playoffs next year. Or 2013. There's too much that's going to change for this team between now and the first preseason game of the 2012 season, so it's pretty stupid to predict any win-loss results in the wake of this hiring.
But people are going to pay attention to the Rams. They are going to take us seriously. Teams are going to respect us.
And if that's the only thing Jeff Fisher brings to the Rams, then that's a hell of a step in the right direction.
(UPDATE: This headline shows the statement was received from local media. That was quick...)