Rams’ fans finally got what they have been asking for. Jeff Fisher has been relieved of his coach duties for the Los Angeles Rams. This comes on the tails of a 42-14 home drubbing to the Atlanta Falcons, and a week after reports leaked that Fisher has signed a 3-year contract extension.
Since Fisher has been the leader of the Rams, they have never finished better than 7-8-1. As a coach, he now has six consecutive losing seasons, and prior to that, he has only coached six out of 20 seasons above .500.
The loss on Sunday moved Fisher into a tie with Dan Reeves for most career losses with 165.
“Making a decision such as this – especially during the season — is one of the most difficult in sports,” Rams owner Stan Kroenke said in a statement. “I have great respect for Jeff as a coach, person, father, and friend.
“He has worked tirelessly despite some challenging circumstances. He played an integral role in helping this team make history in returning the NFL to Los Angeles, and we always will be grateful for his commitment and dedication to our organization.
“However, this is the right time to make a change as our performance has not lived up to my or our fans’ expectations. We are all focused on improving as an organization and building a team that makes Los Angeles proud. Our mission is to celebrate a Super Bowl title with our fans in Los Angeles. Today is the first step to bringing us closer to that goal.”
Special Teams coordinator John Fassel has been named the team’s interim head coach for the remainder of the season.
With the remaining three games of the 2016 season being a mere formality, the Rams organization will now look for a new head coach that can bring excitement back to Los Angeles. They will undoubtedly search for someone with some offensive experience that can erect some efficiency to the woeful follies of the underperforming offense.
Let’s briefly look at who some of these options may be, in no particular order.
Josh McDaniels – Offensive Coordinator and Quarterbacks Coach / New England Patriots
McDaniels is probably the clear cut favorite to get offered the job in Los Angeles. There were talks after last season that he would get a head coaching gig but those talks fell through. He had a short head coaching stint with the Denver Broncos, but that ended horribly after he was fired after only a season and a half. He was also the OC for the St. Louis Rams for one season before he headed back to New England where his career began, and where he currently resides. McDaniels has been known to be a genius X’s and O’s guy, but if his first head coaching gig told us anything, he’s not great with handling personnel (similar to the Lane Kiffin effect). Being that he is a 4x Super Bowl Champion, 5x AFC Champion, and currently overseeing the #4 offense in the NFL, he may be a good fit for Jared Goff and the Rams inept offense. Overall, he’s a great OC, but I don’t think he is the right guy to take over the organization as a whole.
Sports Al Dente’s Grade: C+
Kyle Shanahan – Offensive Coordinator / Atlanta Falcons
Here is another name that has been swirling around, even before Fisher was fired. Shanahan has coaching in his bloodline with his father Mike Shanahan winning two Super Bowls during his tenure with the Denver Broncos. Kyle has been an offensive coordinator since 2008 and has been the OC with the Falcons since 2015. Currently, Atlanta has the 3rd overall offense in the NFL, which I witnessed first hand dismantle the Rams defense at the Colli on Sunday. Shanahan’s best and worst asset may be his age. At the ripe age of 36, he will be very related to his players, but his lack of experience could leave him exposed. If selected, I would expect him to choose a very experienced and mature staff to go to battle with him. Who knows, maybe his dad will join him on the sidelines.
Sports Al Dente’s Grade: B+
Jon Gruden – ESPN Color Analyst
Gruden has been in retirement since 2009 and has enjoyed the spoils of analyzing football games from the comfort of the ESPN studio. There is no doubt that for the right price he would at least consider taking the reigns in Los Angeles. Some reports indicate, however, that the right price could fall between the $8-$10 million per year range, which would make him the highest paid coach in the NFL. If owner Stan Kroenke truly cares about winning he will gladly reach into his pocket book and make sure “Chucky” is scowling at opposing teams from his sidelines. Sidenote: What bigger splash could you make than Gruden in L.A.? Aside from Belichick leaving New England for the City of Angeles…None.
Sports Al Dente’s Grade: A
Jim Harbaugh – Head Coach / University of Michigan
Of course, this would be a fantastic hire, and I’m sure that L.A. will make the call, but I see no way of this happening. They would have to most likely at least match his current contract, and convince Harbaugh to leave the dynasty that he is building in Michigan. If we were two years in the future this might be an actual possibility but it is too early into his current gig.
Sports Al Dente’s Grade: A with a 3.8% chance of actually happening
Greg Knapp – Quarterback’s Coach and Passing Game Coordinator / Denver Broncos
This may be a bit of a stretch for the Head Coaching job in Los Angeles, but there is no denying the offensive fortitude and ability he has with quarterbacks (of all different skill sets). He has been a coach in the NFL and has held five different OC positions. He was the OC from 04-06 in Atlanta, molding Mike Vick into the most dangerous two-way quarterback the league has seen. In the ’10-’11 season he was the quarterback’s coach in Houston, where he turned the relatively unknown Matt Schaub into a Pro Bowl QB. He has been the QB coach in Denver since 2013 where he coached Peyton Manning to the record books, handled the Manning-Osweiler situation all the way to a Super Bowl title, and this year coached a seventh-round pick to become the starter of the defending champs. With a strong staff around him, aside from Gruden, Knapp may be one of the better options if the Rams want to see their investment of Jared Goff pay off.
Sports Al Dente’s Grade: C
Tom Coughlin – One year removed from Head Coach of the New York Giants
If he still has the desire to coach and his health is good at his age (70) then he could find a great fit in Los Angeles. His coaching style is the polar opposite to that of the very laid back Jeff Fisher. His dictator style could be good for the Rams who are the fifth most penalized team in the NFL. Coming from the number one media market in the world, he would have no problem handling the bright lights of Tinseltown. This is a name that could pick up steam if he has any interest. Note of interest: When Coughlin was hired as the head coach of the Giants in 2004 he replaced Jim Fassel, the father of Rams interim coach John Fassel.
Sports Al Dente’s Grade: B+
Pete Carmichael Jr. – Offensive Coordinator / New Orleans Saints
Here is another name that not many people know about but he has been the Saints OC since the 2009 season. With Carmichael as the offensive coordinator, the Saints have finished first in total offense four out of six times, something Rams fans would love to see. During his coaching career, he has tutored under the likes of Marty Schottenheimer and Sean Payton, two historic head coaches.
Sports Al Dente’s Grade: C
Jim Mora Jr. – Head Coach / University of Californa, Los Angeles
Why not look right in your own backyard? Mora Jr. had a long tenure in the NFL from ’85 – ’09 before taking the head coaching job at UCLA in 2012. He saw some success as the head coach of the Atlanta Falcons where he went 11-5 in his first season with a division round playoff victory. Since joining UCLA, Mora Jr. has brought the school back to one of the better programs in the PAC-12; success the school has not enjoyed for quite some time. He is defensive minded so the Rams should couple this hire with bringing Norv Turner in as the offensive coordinator, as he is currently out of football.
Sports Al Dente’s Grade: B-