Memo to the Rams: Before you give Jeff Fisher that extension, make him earn it first
Jeff Fisher has just six winning seasons over a 21-year NFL head-coaching career
LOS ANGELES -- Los Angeles Rams coach Jeff Fisher is a lot of things.
He's an intense, engaging, interesting presence on "Hard Knocks." He's good at peppering his speech with F-bombs, and then, charmingly, he let us know his mother was quite disappointed in his swear words. He's funny. He's a good guy. He's been in the NFL for a very long time.
You know what he is not?
He is not a guy who deserves, in the slightest, a contract extension.
There are a lot of factors shaping, battering and influencing the Rams as they mark their return to Los Angeles. The pressure to win, now, in a city that has no time for losers. The decision to trade a handful of draft picks to move up to the No. 1 overall spot in the NFL Draft and select Jared Goff as their quarterback of the -- and, presumably, of the present. The need for continuity during both the move to L.A. and as they try to develop their young quarterback.
So reports that both Fisher and general manager Les Snead could soon receive extensions for deals that expire after this season can, at first blush, make some sense.
Don't be fooled.
The NFL's not a charity, and trying circumstances have never been reason to reward mediocrity and disappointment, the hallmarks of Fisher's tenure as the Rams head coach going back almost a decade.
And this: Fisher has six -- just six -- winning seasons over a 21-year NFL head-coaching career.
Look, yes, moving an NFL team across the country, to one of its largest, most dynamic and pressure-packed markets, requires stability. So does betting so much of the future -- yours, your team's, that of the NFL back in the land of Hollywood expectations -- on a quarterback who looks far from ready.
But none of that changes Fisher's track record, particularly of late. Nor, maybe most important, his track record with young quarterbacks.
Here's the solution: Give Snead the extension, and let Fisher drift in the wind. Like any NFL player, make him go out there and earn his spot.
Giving Snead more time -- even a lot more time -- makes sense. Snead can be the bridge, both for a Rams team transitioning from St. Louis to Los Angeles and for an organization that cannot have Goff be anything long term other than a rousing success. He can be that consistency that Rams owner Stan Kroenke surely craves.
Snead, in fact, has had nice moments in the NFL Draft. Todd Gurley, at No. 10 overall in the 2015 draft, looks like a revelation. Aaron Donald was a clear win. Tavon Austin as well. Under Snead, the Rams utterly fleeced Washington when they moved the 2012 No. 2 overall-draft pick that would become Robert Griffin III for a cluster of picks. And though early, Rams rookie tight end Tyler Higbee looks very, very good.
Let Snead be the steady hand at the helm of the Rams, and let him own ... the burden and responsibility of trading up for Goff and ensuring that bold move was as cunning as it was courageous, as smart as it was gutsy.
So let Snead be the steady hand at the helm of the Rams, and let him own -- at least for several years -- the burden and responsibility of trading up for Goff and ensuring that bold move was as cunning as it was courageous, as smart as it was gutsy.
Getting Goff right is critical not just to Snead's future but for that of a team that needs to win to hold onto any semblance of relevance here in L.A. I live here, and it's a peculiar place in the sense that it smiles at you, it tells you it loves you, it may even deliver almost 90,000 people to your return preseason game. But if you fail -- if even the slightest whiff of failure gets close -- you can be dead to this city in a nanosecond.
Winning over fans long term in this town is about winning football games in the short term. There's a reason the Rams left 22 years ago for St. Louis: This fan base won't shower you with loyalty and their dollars if you don't earn them. There's a reason Kroenke moved them back: There's too many of those dollars here not to try and go after them.
The solution, then, is to win. And Fisher has yet to prove he's the guy to do it.
Fisher hasn't led a football team to a winning record since 2008. And that was the Titans.
Jared Goff was 13 years old in 2008. Uber didn't exist. The world was a vastly different place, and a lot of other football coaches on much shorter leashes have been hired and discarded since then. That's a lifetime in the NFL.
This is L.A. That track record simply doesn't cut it.
Los Angeles is cutthroat, and certainly many dreams and careers come here to die. But a few rise unexpectedly and become the stuff of fame and fortune. It's Hollywood, man, and if you can summon some magic and luck the world can be yours.
Fisher's got his opportunity. Now show us the magic. Brings us something worthy. Make him prove he belongs in this town before he's locked into anything beyond this season.
Let Snead be the steady hand of consistency, and let that steady hand in turn to deliver to Fisher a simple message: We want you here. We want this to work.
Now, go earn it.
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