The Los Angeles Rams made a big move on Monday, firing head coach Jeff Fisher after four-plus seasons with the team. After Sunday’s embarrassing 42-14 loss to the Falcons, the Rams had little choice but to sever ties with Fisher. The decision came just months after he and the Rams agreed to a contract extension, which only proves there was a sense of urgency and a significant lack of patience from owner Stan Kroenke.
With Fisher out, the Rams now have to begin their extensive search for a new head coach. A handful of big-name candidates will certainly be atop the list, but there are also a few lesser-known offensive minds that should be serious contenders to try to make the most out of No. 1 overall pick Jared Goff.
Here are the top seven names the Rams should look out to fill the void left by Fisher.
Jason Getz-USA TODAY SportsJason Getz
Kyle Shanahan, Falcons offensive coordinator
One of the biggest issues during Fisher’s tenure with the Rams was his inability to lead an offense and develop quarterbacks. He’s a good defensive mind, but Fisher repeatedly struggled on the other side of the ball. As a result, the Rams need an offensive-centric coach to take over. Shanahan currently runs the league's best offense in Atlanta. His relationship and chemistry with quarterback Matt Ryan has improved as time has gone on, and there’s no reason to believe he couldn’t elevate the Rams with Goff, Todd Gurley and Tavon Austin in place.
Josh McDaniels, Patriots offensive coordinator
Like Shanahan, McDaniels is a young, quarterback-savvy coach. He struggled in his first head coaching gig with the Broncos, but since his return to the Patriots, McDaniels has thrived. Though Tom Brady is the main cog in New England’s offense, the guy behind the play calling is McDaniels. He did a brilliant job calling plays during the Patriots’ Super Bowl run in 2014 and has continued to do so this season, particularly when Brady was suspended. He put Jimmy Garoppolo in situations to have success, and the same goes for Jacoby Brissett, whose skill set isn’t exactly NFL-ready. Yet the Patriots still went 3-1 in those four games.
If the Rams want to go with someone who has a bit more experience than the younger McDaniels and Kyle Shanahan, Turner should certainly warrant a look. He surprisingly stepped down from his gig as the Vikings’ offensive coordinator earlier this season, which was essentially a falling-out between he and coach Mike Zimmer. Turner’s scheme is a bit outdated and requires the proper pieces – power running game, big No. 1 target, athletic tight end, great offensive line – but the Rams could potentially add a couple of those assets in the coming years. That’s not to say Turner can’t have success without those types of players, but it’s a staple of his game plan. He is considered to be one of the best offensive minds the league has seen, and his prowess would benefit Goff.
Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY SportsBruce Kluckhohn
Jim Harbaugh, Michigan head coach
Jim Harbaugh is a long shot to leave Michigan -- where he’s completely turned around the program and is considered a savior – but Kroenke has deep pockets and shouldn’t be afraid of throwing around a bit of money. It would take a substantial pay day to pry Harbaugh out of Ann Arbor. He has had success everywhere he’s gone, from Stanford to the 49ers to Michigan, and a return to California would likely yield more of the same. He’d bring a good balance of offensive and defensive-centric philosophies, led by his work with quarterbacks. Harbaugh did have success with guys like Andrew Luck, Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick, so the ability to develop quarterbacks is there.
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY SportsRick Osentoski
David Shaw, Stanford head coach
Shaw has made it clear he doesn’t want to leave Stanford, but the allure of being an NFL head coach can do some funny things to people. Everyone from Nick Saban to Lane Kiffin to Harbaugh has made the jump to the NFL, and although success is hard to come by there’s nothing like being a head coach in the pros. Shaw hasn’t missed a beat since Harbaugh left Stanford, finishing well above .500 in each of his six years while finishing in the AP top 15 four times. Shaw will undoubtedly be a hot commodity in the upcoming offseason despite his refusal to make the jump, and a team like the Rams could pay him a hefty amount to leave the Cardinal. Not to mention, he’d be able to stay on the West Coast and land in a shiny new stadium just a few years down the line.
Getty ImagesThearon W. Henderson
Jim Bob Cooter, Lions offensive coordinator
Cooter was a relative unknown before he was promoted to offensive coordinator for the Lions last season. In just a year in that post, he’s proved to be an offensive guru capable of working with quarterbacks and elevating their play. Peyton Manning raved about the work Cooter did while in Indianapolis and Denver as an offensive assistant, which only bolster’s his case as an offensive mind.
“He’s been on a fast climb,” Manning said in February. “He’s earned it. He’s a hard-working guy, he’s very smart, and he just sees football and knows football. I enjoyed the couple years we had together in Indy. He was really helpful to me in Denver in 2013.”
Cooter doesn’t have nearly the amount of experience some teams look for in a head coach, but he could be a huge factor in Goff’s development.
Tom Coughlin, former Giants and Jaguars head coach
There’s a place in the NFL for Tom Coughlin, and it just might be in L.A. Coughlin has expressed that he’s interested in getting back into coaching, saying his “Doppler is back up” as recently as last month. His separation from the Giants was messy, but it wasn’t the result of his sudden inability to coach. He can still motivate players, devise intelligent game plans and lead a team to perennial success. His tenure in New York was just past its prime. Coughlin wouldn’t be a flashy signing by the Rams, but it would be a smart one. He would bring experience and leadership and command respect from both veterans and rookies. After seeing the way players were uninspired under Fisher, finding a head coach who guys want to play for is key.