After pausing for about nine days worth of dramatic effect, Jeff Fisher has decided that, rather than South Beach, he’s taking his talents to eastern Missouri.
It was either the Dolphins or the Rams, and after waffling for nearly a fortnight, the sexiest head-coaching candidate of 2012 (I mean that in terms of popularity, not looks — although he is quite a handsome man) finally decided that St. Louis was right for him.
Why? I mean, if we’re comparing places to live I’m pretty sure everyone outside of Greater St. Loo would pick South Florida over the Gateway to the West. But there was more to it, and I’m not just talking about green.
Yeah, money surely factored in. And Fisher’s delay in picking a new home was inevitably leverage-related. But I doubt the Rams offered much more than the Dolphins did, because word on Adam Schefter Street was that Phins owner Stephen Ross was willing to break the bank for a blue-chip head coach like Fisher.
We’re not entirely sure what made him a blue-chip head coach. Maybe it was the two playoff games he won between 2000 and 2010. Or maybe it was the three division titles he won in the same 11-year span. Maybe the Dolphins and Rams were enticed by Fisher’s 54-58 regular-season record over his last seven years in Tennessee.
I know. You could wring the sarcasm from those words. Fine — here’s the reality: Fisher was the hottest head-coaching candidate in the football world for five reasons:
1. He’s a household name who was a head coach as recently as 2010.
2. Prior to being let go in Tennessee, he was the longest tenured head coach in the league.
3. At 53, he’s still relatively young in the coaching world.
4. With Jon Gruden and Bill Cowher apparently off the market, Fisher was the best of a rotten batch.
5. He brought an upstart Titans team to the Super Bowl. (What people seem to forget is that was 13 years ago.)
Not everyone bought into the propaganda and fawned over Fisher. It doesn’t appear as though the Jaguars, Chiefs or Chargers showed any interest, which is encouraging for those who feared that anyone in the league with a potentially vacant head-coaching job would simply and sadly take the easy route and chase the man they’re most familiar with.
But the Dolphins and Rams bit, and Fisher had his pick of that litter. I think he deserved another shot somewhere, and St. Louis makes some sense. He’s got a good young quarterback and a second-overall draft pick and some quality pieces in place. And maybe most importantly, he won’t have a general manager to boss him around. The Rams will eventually hire a GM, but Fisher will likely be involved in that process, and you can be sure that he’ll have any equal vote in pertinent decisions (and probably a fatter paycheck).
But the whole thing stinks of laziness. It’s like the Rams took the easiest route, which rarely pays off in the NFL. Look at the league’s last three Super Bowl-winning coaches. Mike Tomlin, Sean Payton and Mike McCarthy: all working their first gigs as head coaches, all fairly anonymous prior to being hired/promoted.
The next Tomlin or Payton or McCarthy is out there. But now the Rams have married a man who’s tried and failed already…17 times. A divorcé who’s already been jaded by delinquent draft picks and disloyal locker rooms.
Current Rams owner Stan Kroenke was a minority owner of the team when it won Super Bowl XXXIV in 1999. That’s certainly been the highlight of Kroenke’s time overseeing things in St. Louis. His memories of that evening in Atlanta probably haven’t faded much. In that game, his Rams barely survived in a thrilling victory over young Jeff Fisher’s Tennessee Titans.
But maybe that memory is too predominant in Kroenke’s mind. Maybe it’s enough to make him overlook what Fisher’s done since that night.
If Fisher also fails to deliver in St. Louis at what is likely a hefty price, and if this development forces the Dolphins to do some extra research and take a chance on someone with a lower Q rating, Miami’s loss today could turn into a long-term gain.