posted on January 13, 2012 14:33
In the middle of my Winter Break, and slowly sipping coffee while trying to figure out how exactly to go about writing a novel, word came down that Jeff Fisher has agreed to become the new head coach of the Rams.
Not bad after all of the false starts and confusion.
I'm not even talking about the Rams' season; it's more about the mediapocalypse that paralyzed this town more than the inch of snow that fell yesterday. Every national pundit threw in his (or her) two cents on this saga, as twitter greatly accellerated the speed of what would've only a few years ago been a completely reasonable window for Fisher to decide where he was headed.
But now that it's over, the Rams have themselves what appears to be a good hire. Fisher gives the Rams instant credibility, if not an iron-clad guarantee of immediate success on the field, though one would think he will greatly improve team discipline and game management decisions overnight, which could have added another 2-3 wins to the Rams total this season.
Credit Rams Owner Stan Kroenke and COO Kevin Demoff for delivering the man that most fans conisdered a slowly-slipping away pipe dream as late as Friday morning. They identified their top candidate early in the process and basically gave him a rake and one of those little, plastic, pail-and-shovel combos to level and rebuild whatever monstrosity was left in the sandbox by the past few regimes. Several reports came out Friday afternoon that final say over personnel was crucial to Fisher deciding to come to the Rams; it was certainly something that Kroenke and Demoff could whole-heartedly offer. After all, why NOT give Fisher control over personnel? Could things possibly get any worse for the Rams in that area under Fisher's veteran eye?
Not that the Fisher hire is a panacea for the various ailments that the Rams still possess; there are still questions about whether he can modernize the offense and drag this team into the 21st century despite his roots in more of a "ground-and-pound" system. And though an encouraging sign, his hiring doesn't necessarily mean that the Rams are now married to St. Louis; it just means that Fisher either received assurances to the point that he's comfortable taking the gig, or that those concerns were overblown in the first place (though, as they were initially reported by Jim Thomas and echoed by Bernie Miklasz, I tend to think that the concerns were very, very real). Perhaps of greatest concern, though Fisher wasn't in full control of personnel in Tennessee, is that the Titans never found that "white whale," a number one wideout, during his time there, at a time when the Rams desperately need one to reanimate the lifeless corpse of their offense.
But at the moment, it appears to be so far, so good. It appears as if Fisher will be able to help draw some of the old Titans' gang up to St. Louis, as well; welcome news for a roster badly in need of reinforcements at a number of positions. CB Courtland Finnegan has already reportedly expressed some interest in coming to St. Louis to play for Fisher. Finnegan, not necessarily a "four pillars" type of player, is exactly the kind of nasty guy the Rams could use on the outside, and at a position of great need, no less.
Perhaps more encouragingly, Fisher has never been afraid of speed, as the Titans drafted RB Chris Johnson while he was head coach, and Johnson eventually added great home run hitting ability to the Titans' backfield. Those kinds of players are absolutely crucial to igniting this offense and scoring points once again.
If the Rams are sick (and believe me, going into this offseason, they most certainly were), at least Fisher will carry them to the Mayo Clinic so that the once-proud organization has a chance to get better and back on the right track.
Now comes the hard part: the long offseason of reconstructive surgery.
D.J. Gelner covers the Rams for insideSTL. Follow him on twitter (@djgelner) for the latest Rams updates. During his winter vacation, check out his personal blog for updates on the as-yet-untitled novel that he's writing.