The Rams have quite a few names that can be mentioned in direct correlation to putting up or shutting up. Over the last three years, there have been a lot of expectations for a lot of people, but there hasn't been nearly enough production from some of those guys.
As we now enter the fourth season of Jeff Fisher's tenure as head coach of the Rams, let's first have a gander at a few names that have produced well enough that they have either reached expectations - or exceeded them in some instances - or done enough to avoid the hot seat:
- Janoris Jenkins - Say what you about the occasional big play allowed - though that number has consistently dropped each year - but the big plays produced have been nothing short or spectacular. If he can maintain that production, he will set a lot of NFL records.
- Benny Cunningham - When you speak of exceeding expectations, this is the epitome of what you mean. Cunningham entered the NFL as an undrafted rookie free agent, coming off of a severe knee injury that was supposed to take a year to get back to full strength. Cunningham was ready in nine quick months, and has improved and raised his performance with each week since.
- Robert Quinn - He took the NFL by storm in his third season and hasn't looked back. He is now mentioned by default when the discussion of the best pass rushers come up. Quinn demands special attention, and that is always worthy of a special mention.
- Rodney McLeod - 99.999999% of all Rams' fans had no clue who Rodney McLeod was before the 2012 season. And 88.88888% of Rams' fans had no clue who Rodney McLeod was before the 2013 season. But now, everyone knows he is a 195-lb. thumper with above average coverage ability that continues to improve his overall game each year, earning him the starting FS position.
It's always nice when you can look back and see some progress being made with a few guys. While these guys have definitely progressed quite well, there's one person above everyone - all pun intended - that hasn't quite brought to the table what was expected.
Jeff Fisher has the hottest seat in the house and it's not even close.
Three seasons in and Fisher has produced a 20-27-1 record. That's not exactly what the St. Louis Rams community was expecting when he took the position in 2012. In 20 seasons, Coach Fisher has been to the playoffs six times, and boasts just a 5-6 post season record, and a 162-147-1 overall record.
Some will say that players like Isaiah Pead, Tavon Austin, Brian Quick, etc have been bigger underachievers than Fisher and should be mentioned. But when you have such a high volume of high draft picks not pan out, that alone should cause questions to rise about the head coach who has final say on those picks.
Some will say that when mentioning the lack of success, the quarterback position has to be mentioned. But then you look at the performance of someone like the Cardinals who used five quarterbacks in one season and still finished with double digit wins and you stop and wonder what are the Rams doing wrong?
The simple fact is, Fisher has not led this team to more than being a competitor. You don't just play to be a competitive team. In the words of the great Herm Edwards "YOU PLAY TO WIN THE GAME!!!"
Jeff Fisher has some work to do to cool his rear, because right now he has one of the hottest seats in the house. While he has certainly gotten the most and then some out of some players, as mentioned above, it's not nearly enough to overshadow the blown draft picks, slow starts, blown big leads or, worst of all, the unwillingness to adjust.
The time is now to put up or shut up.
This is Jeff Fisher's make or break season.