In the offseason, when ESPN periodically would report that Rams coach Jeff Fisher is likely to get a new contract by the start of the regular season, the general reaction from plenty of fans came in the form of a one-word question: Why?
The regular season has begun and, contrary to the latest report from ESPN that a contract was likely before it began, nothing has happened. The reaction would be even stronger if Fisher were to get a contract in the aftermath of not scoring a point against the one team that would have been regarded as the least likely to pitch a shutout in Week One. If anything, Fisher currently seems to be on track for the opposite of a new contract, either after the season or during it.
“I like Jeff Fisher, I do,” Rams Hall of Fame running back Eric Dickerson said on Wednesday’s PFT Live (I do, too), “but liking a coach and then winning football games is two different things. It’s no different from a player that’s not performing. What do they do, they cut him or release him. The same thing with a coach, I mean, if you’re not gonna perform and you can’t have a winning football team, you’re just not gonna be there, especially in L.A.
“L.A. is a city [where] they want winners. You have to win in that city. I think it would be hard pressed for the Rams to go 4-12 or 5-11 this year or 6-10 and him keep his job. I mean, that’s just being honest about it. It’s all about winning in Los Angeles, because we don’t have those kind of fans that are just the loyal diehard fans like a Packers fan or a Steelers fan. I wish we did but it’s not there yet; the Rams have been gone for just too long.”
While it’s too early for any team to think about making a coaching change, an ugly loss to the Seahawks and former USC coach Pete Carroll in the regular-season return to the Coliseum will make the current whispers grow louder. Back-to-back road games at Tampa and Arizona won’t be easy. With a visit to Buffalo, a trip to Detroit, and a game against the Giants in London on the docket before the bye week, if the Rams go 2-4 or worse over the next six games, a record of 2-5, 1-6, or 0-7 will be glaring as owner Stan Kroenke makes the long flight back from England to Los Angeles.
It gets no easier after the bye, with games vs. the Panthers, at the Jets, the Dolphins, at the Saints and Patriots completing the first 75 percent of the schedule. Based on the team’s performance on Monday night, a bad record is more likely than a good one after 12 games.
Ultimately, the question as to whether Fisher gets a new deal or a new job will hinge on the preferences of Kroenke. The fact that Fisher is one game into his lame-duck year could quickly result in his first year in L.A. being his last year there, if Dickerson is right — and if Kroenke isn’t willing to wait to see on-field improvement before the team opens a new stadium in 2019.