For years, former Titans and Rams coach Jeff Fisher chugged along as an NFL head coach, without much scrutiny or criticism for the typically average performances of his teams. And then it happened; a 3-1 start in 2016 followed by an extended losing streak and a feud with Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson made Fisher into a punching bag for NFL fans, with Fisher eventually being run out of L.A. during the team’s first year back in their former long-time home.
Suddenly, the guy who won 171 career games and took the Titans to Super Bowl XXXIV (where they nearly forced overtime with the Rams) became the leader of the gang that couldn’t coach straight. A football pariah. A laughingstock.
After his final loss with the Rams, Fisher tied Dan Reeves atop the all-time coaching losses list with 165. But at 171-165-1 in the regular season, along with a 5-6 record in the playoffs, Fisher has coached 348 NFL games. So he knows a thing or two about getting a team ready to play, week after week and year after year.
“I want to get back on the sideline,” Fisher said in the final episode of the second season of Amazon’s All or Nothing. “Not going to happen this year, obviously. We’ll just see what happens.”
Yes, we will. Especially once NFL owners start firing NFL coaches. Fisher’s name already has bubbled up in connection with college vacancies, most notably when rumors flew that UCLA was interested in hiring him. Fisher presumably remains more interested in returning to the NFL.
His cause won’t be aided by the success of the Rams and quarterback Jared Goff without him, or by the success of former Rams quarterback Case Keenum in Minnesota. But Fisher’s audience isn’t you or me or anyone who doesn’t own an NFL team looking for a head coach. And if/when Fisher gets an interview, Fisher will talk a very good game — selling his strengths, excusing his weaknesses (e.g., “I wanted to roll with Case but they made me trade up for Goff”), and touting a very real connection to the league office that gives whichever team hires him a chance to gain most favored nation status with an embattled Commissioner who is about to get a contract extension through 2024.
Ultimately, Fisher’s fate depends on how many current coaches get fired, and whether at least one of them isn’t willing to roll the dice on a coordinator who has never coached a single NFL game — and who instead would be more comfortable entrusting the team to someone who has coached nearly 350 of them.