In a new market, with new expectations, the Rams can't afford to keep Jeff Fisher
There are good coaches and great coaches in the NFL — then there are unemployed coaches.
Great coaches win games, compete for championships, and unite fan bases and cities.
Good coaches are masters of plausible deniability — it's not their fault the team isn't winning, and they're happy to tell you all the reasons why.
If employment is the only goal, Jeff Fisher is a good coach — a really good coach. The man hasn't helmed a winning team since 2008 but has somehow maintained his same job. In a game this competitive, that's an impressive skill.
But context is everything, and Fisher, who has coached the majority of his career in Nashville and St. Louis, is beyond his depth in the megatropolis of Los Angeles. There, it's taken less than a season for his finger-pointing ways to lose their effectiveness.
If the Rams knew what they were doing, Fisher would be out at the end of this season.
But, seeing as he's been in his job for as long as he has been, there's no guarantee that'll happen.
The Rams locked up their 10th straight losing season Sunday with an embarrassing (well, maybe not for the Rams) 42-14 home loss to the Falcons. For any other franchise, Sunday might be considered a recent, or even all-time low, but the Rams haven't posted a winning season since 2003 — this is par for the course.
With the loss Sunday, Fisher tied the NFL record for most losses by a coach in league history — Fisher has been in charge of a non-winning season in 15 of his 21 full seasons as head coach and the best the Rams could do this year is finish 7-9. Cue the HBO clip.
Fisher has tried everything to deflect the blame, but in a new, massive media market, nothing is working. The Rams, even with Aaron Donald and Todd Gurley, are an excruciating football team to watch, so if you're talking about the team, you're talking about its historically bad head coach.
When you add the drama that Fisher has brought upon himself, if makes for wonderful drama in a market where you just that to sell.
The Rams are truly Los Angeles' team now.
In St. Louis, Fisher could get away with his "look over there" tactics. No one noticed that his agent is his boss' father or asked too many questions when Fisher claimed he didn't have enough good players to coach. St. Louis is a wonderful city with plenty going for it, including two other professional teams, but in many ways, it needed the NFL franchise — it made the town a major market and you don't want to bite the hand that feeds.
But clearly Los Angeles doesn't need the NFL — its status has been completely unaffected by the addition of the Rams — and Fisher underestimated his influence over the local media there.
There probably weren't too many times where former players were speaking out against the St. Louis Rams, but when Eric Dickerson started calling for Fisher's job in Los Angeles, the head coach made a fatal mistake and called up the Hall of Famer.
The second Fisher picked up the phone, he was out of a job. His fate is merely on delay at this point.
Dickerson — understanding he could help his own star by sinking Fisher's (classic L.A. move) claims that Fisher told him to not come to Rams games anymore if he was going to criticize the team. Dickerson says he's happy to oblige — Mr. L.A. Ram now on the record that he won't go to any games until Fisher is no longer the head coach.
There was a way to track it all back, but Fisher has refused to admit culpability — old habits die hard — and so he's been attacked on everything and everything since then. A notoriously soft L.A. media keeps handing him shovels to dig himself a deeper hole, all for a few yucks.
Yeah, L.A. doesn't need the Rams.
Fisher has tried to throw everyone he can under the bus for the Rams' failures, including Tre Mason, who had a mental breakdown this past offseason, and Stedman Bailey, who was shot in the head.
Do you know how hard it is to move an NFL team across the country? If you don't, Jeff Fisher would be happy to tell you.
Truth be told, many of the problems are not Fisher's fault. General manager Les Snead botched one of the most lopsided trades in NFL history — the Rams never fully capitalized on the RG3 trade with Washington — only to make the same mistake in reverse by selling half a dozen picks to land Jared Goff.
But the Rams are a laughingstock in their new market and Fisher is the butt of the joke. And with the Chargers on their way to Los Angeles, the Rams are going to have to show the Southland they mean business.
The easiest possible way to do that is to fire the losingest coach in NFL history.
It's a sad story — Fisher is a Southern California guy who was thrilled to come home and coach his childhood team, but if he is done in — if the Rams have an ounce of competency — it'll be his own hubris that's responsible.
For once, he'll only have himself to blame.