Jeff Fisher is in his fifth year coaching the Rams, and for the fifth year, it looks like his team will miss the playoffs. Fisher’s contract is up at the end of the season, and when a coach has failed to produce forward momentum towards a playoff berth over the length of his deal, that tends to mean he’s not long for the job.
But according to Rams COO Kevin Demoff, Fisher has been a success for the Rams for everything besides his record. Allow Demoff to explain, as he told NFL.com:
“Everybody will want to judge Jeff through the prism of just the record, but that’s totally unfair when you look at the set of circumstances he was handed this year. It was different than any team in the NFL.
“We moved halfway across the country, then had OTAs in Oxnard. Training camp was in Irvine, now we’re in Thousand Oaks. We moved coaches and players and families. To provide leadership and consistency, he’s done a model job.”
From the outside, we can’t judge what Fisher has accomplished in the locker room to keep a team together through relocation from St. Louis, but Demoff isn’t looking at the entire picture either. It’s a fallacy of familiarity — just because you see something done a certain way, it’s easy to assume that it’s being done right. We’d venture to guess, however, that there are potential coaches who would have provided stability and leadership as well as better on-field product, considering the level of talent the Rams have defensively.
Even if perception may outpace the reality, the NFL is a league of parity, where franchises’ fortunes can shift from year to year. To that reality, there are a few exceptions: The Browns are bad, the Patriots are good, and the Rams are mediocre. Those exceptions can be traced back to constants — the Browns are bad as long as they fail to have even replacement-level quarterbacks or continuity in management, the Patriots are good as long as they have Bill Belichick (and probably Tom Brady), and the Rams are mediocre as long as Jeff Fisher is their head coach because that’s what Jeff Fisher brings to your franchise.
Based on the tenor of the NFL.com piece, it seems like Fisher is more likely to return as coach of the Rams next year than he is to be let go, which means the Rams can look forward to another year at least of being just okay.