Jeff Fisher Fired: 3 Candidates to Coach the Los Angeles Rams in 2016
The Los Angeles Rams finally moved on from head coach Jeff Fisher on Monday afternoon, marking the end of a sorry tenure that never culminated in a record better than 7-8-1. Fisher’s everlasting mediocrity finally hit a wall this season, when the Los Angeles Rams started 0-1 and struggled to stay afloat in the competitive NFC West. Despite a surprising early turnaround that saw the Rams soar to a 3-1 mark, Fisher seemed to lose his team down the stretch as the Rams fell to a 4-9 record through the first 14 weeks.
Fisher’s time in L.A. lasted just 14 games, but he was with the Rams during their time in St. Louis, where he coached from 2012 until the team was moved following the 2015 NFL season. Despite constant mediocrity and never finishing better than third in the NFC West, the Rams held onto Fisher and even renewed his deal just weeks ago.
The Rams never had a winning season under Jeff Fisher. pic.twitter.com/ZM8yIvYmPo
— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) December 12, 2016
While Fisher lasted far longer than anyone anticipated, he’s finally gone and the Rams can start looking to the future. It won’t be hard to top Fisher’s weak 31-45 run during his five years with the Rams, while Fisher also left the incoming coach some talent to work with. As bad as the Rams are, they do have a potential franchise passer in Jared Goff, a franchise running back in Todd Gurley and a solid defense.
With Fisher gone, the Rams can’t hope to make up much ground to close out the 2016 season, but if they bring in the right head coach next season, they could possibly hope to get to 8-8 or better. It all depends on who they bring in and whether or not Goff can quickly develop into the type of talent #1 picks are supposed to be. Only time will tell but for now, here are five interesting candidates to succeed Fisher in 2016:
Jon Gruden (ESPN)
Gruden has said repeatedly he’s perfectly comfortable in his seat on ESPN’s Monday Night Football show, and it makes sense, since it’s a job he’s exceptional at. That being said, Gruden has to be feeling the itch to get back in the coaching game, as he’s still a bright offensive mind and seems to enjoy coaching young talent in his Quarterback Camp show.
The issue with Jon Gruden going to the Rams could be that they have a young signal caller in Goff, and Gruden has always been a guy who likes to hitch his wagon to established veterans. Then again, perhaps he would see this as a terrific opportunity to display his ability to help a young passer to progress. That’s if he even believes in Goff in the first place, of course. If he does, Gruden could be the missing link for a team that has the defense and running back to potentially compete earlier than many expect.
Jim Harbaugh (Michigan)
Harbaugh might be an even bigger splash than Gruden, as he was a sensation as head coach of the San Francisco 49ers. It’d be awfully odd for him to dip from Michigan after being there just two years and seemingly fully turning the program around in his second season. Harbaugh does probably have interest in returning to the NFL so he can go get that elusive Super Bowl, but he probably would love to get his Wolverines a college football title first.
That doesn’t rule out Harbaugh, though. They NFL money is good and he could see the writing on the wall that winning in Michigan just might not happen. He also could jump at the opportunity to mold another young passer in Goff. He’s had success with young quarterbacks wherever he’s gone and his teams tend to play elite defense, so he actually could be the perfect answer for the departed Jeff Fisher.
Kyle Shanahan (Falcons)
Shanahan is an underrated contender, as he’s been an above average to great offensive coordinator in the NFL. He helped his dad make Robert Griffin III look good with the Washington Redskins and then even helped Brian Hoyer seem passable with the Cleveland Browns. Now he’s in Atlanta and pushing the Falcons to the top of the league in scoring.
Shanny might not necessarily be head coaching material, but there is no doubt he knows how to get points on the board. He’s also the son of a legendary coach, so perhaps a franchise like the Rams wouldn’t mind seeing if the younger Shanahan has the goods to be a legend, himself.
Then again, the Rams could also attack some other retreads. Mike Shanahan hasn’t ruled out a return to coaching, while other living legends like Brian Billick and Bill Cowher continue to be in NFL head coaching rumors. It’s even possible some other veteran coaches could be made available by the end of the year, with proven commodities like Rex Ryan, John Fox and others possibly being released of their duties in the near future. Should they be interested in immediately finding work again, the Rams should take notice.
L.A. could also follow suit of other NFL teams looking to switch things up, and simply roll with a hot young star on the rise. Miami gave Adam Gase a job this past offseason and San Diego went after Mike McCoy a few years back. Shanahan probably leads the list, but given the jobs done by the likes of Joe Lombardi, Josh McDaniels, Darrell Bevell, Jim Schwartz and John Pagano over the years, that’s certainly an avenue the Rams have to consider.
One thing is certain, however: the Rams can’t take the hiring of their next head coach lightly. Jeff Fisher had been living on one magical Super Bowl run for basically his entire career, and the Rams can’t bring someone in purely based on their name or a handful of solid seasons. They need someone who will be the right fit, knows what they’re doing, can handle some hot heads on defense, will commit to the running game and will also develop Goff.
Most importantly, the Rams need someone who can generate offense and make this team exciting and less predictable again. In a division with two brutal defenses in the Seahawks and Cardinals, the Rams need to be more explosive offensively, yet allow for their defense to stay fresh and maximize their strengths. That should include adding better talent at wide receiver and tight end, while also shoring up the offensive line.
In other words, it’s probably not a quick fix if the Rams are being realistic. They need someone for the long haul who knows offense, can delegate and can make Goff the franchise passer they drafted him to be. Gruden and Harbaugh might be perfect fits, and for everyone in L.A.’s sake, here’s to hoping the Rams get one of them.