What are the chances that LA Rams HC Jeff Fisher is losing the locker room?
This is the same coach who has in part maintained control of a head coaching job for over 20 years, because players have routinely admitted to loving to play for him and the media loving to talk to him. He’s built quite the reputation over the years for being a coach that doesn’t like throwing players under the bus, and giving the media a good friend in the coaching ranks.
Well, it would seem Fisher has finally met his match. In the early winning days of the 2016 regular season, things were light and fluffy more times than not. During the Rams three-game win streak, that was indeed the case. In fact, it seemed the only player that had any ill feelings during that span, was RB Todd Gurley.
The L.A. media has proven to be less patient than both the Nashville and St. Louis media combined. Though after coaching for over 20 seasons, and barely ever being questioned about his overall record which leaves hardly a shade over .500, it’s not hard to be the media that presses him more than the previous batch.
In recent weeks, Fisher has continuously pointed his finger at everyone else for the Rams’ losses and accepted no blame at all. Some would argue that this is common, and he’s been doing this for years, but I would challenge that with how far has he crossed that line before.
Lately, Fisher has stood firm on the belief that he has done nothing wrong during games and that players simply “didn’t execute”.
For example, the fake punt which was called against the Buffalo Bills. That fake was stopped and gave the ball back to the Bills on the Rams own 25-yard line, and ultimately setting up the score which put the game out of reach. When pressed by the media about the decision to go for the fake, Fisher simply said the players “didn’t execute”, and he “wouldn’t do anything different”. I find it hard to believe that this went over well in the players minds...
In the Rams’ loss to the Detroit Lions — by only three points — Fisher made the executive decision, to go for it on fourth and goal from the one-yard line with only seconds left in the first half. The play resulted in Rams RB Todd Gurley getting tackled for a loss and the Rams coming away with no points leaving points on the board that could have kept the game from ending in a loss at the end of regulation. If the Rams had taken the field goal, and the game was tied instead on their final drive, there might have been less of a feeling of urgency to push the ball down field in a hurry. That in no way is to take blame for the final interception from QB Case Keenum, but it is in fact true that he was not put in the greatest situation. Fisher again deflected the media’s implication that he deserved some blame for his decision on the one-yard line to the players. Saying the team didn’t do a good enough job, and the Lions made the play while we didn’t, and again said, “I wouldn’t do anything different”. Implying that the decision was a good one, and the players should have got the ball over the goal line. While the second half of that statement is true, the former carries very little validity.
Against the New York Giants in London in Week 7, Fisher avoided going for it on fourth down in situations that did not call for it unlike the previous two weeks which resulted in turnovers. It might have been arguably the worst coached game I have seen in recent memory. In a tight game all the way until the last snap — and one where Gurley was finding a little running room early on — we saw absolutely no offensive adjustments. To have Keenum drop back to throw the ball 53 times in a game with those scenarios makes no sense whatsoever. The Rams were not playing catch-up by a large margin. Gurley was finding his footing. The line was creating some holes. the defense was playing well. If ever there was a time to play Fisherball, it was on this day; however, the Rams stuck with some weird and broken version of an air raid.
Fisher took the time to call out the receivers when questioned about quarterback play afterwards. Now, while I agree that not all four interceptions were Keenum’s fault, it didn’t make much sense to point the finger the receivers the way he did. Considering that defending your QB makes the most sense when he’s your franchise QB, or at the very least is a lock to finish the season as your starter, it made little sense to threaten bench the same receviers that you praised up until that moment. It’s an even bigger head scratcher when you're complaining about the receivers play but kept throwing the ball.
Fisher has walked a very thin line as of late with the way he has addressed the media, and when you aren’t winning games and start to point fingers, history has shown us, that it is the fastest way to lose your locker room. Add in the fact that you’re now in one of the worlds biggest media markets, and they’re not backing down with the tough questions about putting more and more #7and9 bullshit on the field, and you have a storm brewing that has a better record over than years than Jeff Fisher has ever dreamed of.