It's no secret that Jeff Fisher loves RBs. This is a man who's Tennessee success was carried on the backs of Eddie George and an efficient QB in the late Steve McNair. He's built a successful team with that philosophy before, and Rams fans expected him to build a similar team when he took the reigns in 2012.
It used to be easy to say that the Robert Griffin III trade in the 2012 NFL draft would define Jeff Fisher's regime with the Rams. That all changed when the Rams made the decision to trade Sam Bradford for Nick Foles. For a short period, this seemed to be the defining move for Fisher. Then the 2015 NFL draft happened.
I'll be blunt. Todd Gurley will end up defining Jeff Fisher's tenure with the Rams.
A brief overview of the RB position throughout Fisher's 4+ years with the Rams shows that 'good' isn't good enough.
After Daryl Richardson beat out Isaiah Pead for the starting gig in 2012, he gave way to Zac Stacy the following season. Stacy did an admirable job after the Rams spread offense flopped in 2013. Then Stacy mysteriously fell out of favor in his sophomore campaign. He had 15+ carries only once in the 2014 season after 9 such games as a rookie. That can be partly attributed to Tre Mason's emergence. Mason rushed for over 750 yards in 12 games. Which is an outstanding season to build upon for a rookie RB on any NFL team.
Not for Jeff Fisher.
Fisher saw an opportunity to further upgrade the position with Gurley and today the Rams boast one of the strongest group of RBs in the NFL. Fisher excelled in the early 2000s by not asking McNair to win games single handedly. He instead relied on a strong running game and defensive play to carry the team. The trade of Bradford showed - once and for all - that Fisher was staying true to his ways. The Gurley selection only further solidified that stance.
Before you burn me at the stake... consider that the RB position can still be a game changer. Impact RBs still exist. In the last 10 years, we've seen a bevy of supremely talented RBs. Adrian Peterson, Steven Jackson, Ladanian Tomlinson, and Marshawn Lynch -aside from having sick nicknames - have carried their teams in recent memory. The bad news is that Marshawn Lynch is the only one of those players to reach a Super Bowl.
Fisher's determination to build an old-school team may buck that trend - a la the Seahawks of recent memory. He is leading the resistance against today's pass-happy NFL, but he also may be leading this team towards the wastelands of the prior regime.
Fair or not, Gurley's success - or lack thereof - will determine Fisher's legacy with the Rams. He will either prove that Fisher's philosophy will survive the test of time or show everyone that Fisher has failed to adapt.