The Case Against Jeff Fisher

A few weeks ago, Jeff Fisher said that he left the then 10-4 Los Angeles Rams in good shape, and thought that he deserved another chance at coaching.

This tells me one thing: Not only is Jeff Fisher a terrible head coach, he’s also clinically insane.

Fisher left the Los Angeles Rams an absolute dumpster fire, so for him to say they were anything different shows he has less self awareness than Michael Scott.

In 2016 the Rams were dead last in total yards. They also averaged a laughable 14.0 points per game. To put that in perspective: The winless Cleveland Browns averaged more than that this year.

The 2016 Rams had 10 games in which they scored 14 or fewer points. They gained 300 or more yards in only six games, every other team in the league averaged 308 or better.

Quite frankly, the fact that the 2016 LA Rams won 4 games is mind blowing given how horrendous they were offensively.

The players, to no one’s surprise, were miserable. Todd Gurley compared the offense to one a high school would run. Rookie quarterback (and #1 overall pick) Jared Goff looked like a scared puppy in most of his postgame interviews.

The 2017 Rams? An entirely different story.

First year coach Sean McVay had this Rams team absolutely rolling offensively. I could sit here for days and write about the change in how the offenses looked from 2016 to 2017, but here are some stats that’ll do it for me.

– In 2016 the Rams scored 20+ points in just four games. This year they did so in 13.

– In 2016, the Rams were last in the league in total yards. This year, they were 10th.

– In 2016, the Rams averaged 14 points per game. This year they averaged THIRTY.

– In 2017, the Rams’ lowest yardage total in a game was 249. In 2016 they failed to reach that number seven times.

Now, for those of you who still would like to defend Fisher (I’m assuming that list is just Jeff and his kids) you’ll probably bring up the argument that the Rams got some new players this year and THAT’S what spurred the change.

To be fair, it’s not the worst argument in the world.

Players like Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp, Sammy Watkins and Andrew Whitworth certainly made a positive impact on the Rams in 2017, but it takes more than a few offseason additions to more than double a team’s point total.

With that being said, lets look at three guys who had the unfortunate experience of playing in the Jeff Fisher offense last year, and see where they’re at now.

Jared Goff

Like I said before, Goff looked like a bust in 2016. He looked uncomfortable, unsure of himself, basically anything you don’t want your supposed QB of the future to be.

This year, Goff was top 10 in the NFL in yards and touchdowns, and looked like the guy who’s going to lead this team to the playoffs and beyond for years to come.

I can once again sit here and give you stats like Goff going from having seven interceptions on just 205 attempts in 2016, to seven interceptions on 477 attempts this year.

Or Goff being sacked 26 times in just seven games in 2016, and just 25 times in 15 games this year.

Or that Goff’s season high in passing yards was just 235 in 2016, and this year had 235 or more yards in nine games.

But the most impressive, eye opening (and even heartwarming) stat is this:

On December 24th, 2016, after throwing for just 90 (90!!!!!) yards, 1 TD and 2 INT’s in a 22-21 loss to the 49ers, an incredibly deflated Goff stood at the podium and made a heartfelt promise to his fans saying, “It will get fixed”.

Exactly one year later, after an NFC West clinching win against Tennessee in which he threw for 301 yards and 4 TD’s, Goff stood at the podium, smiling with his head held high, proudly repping his “NFC West Champions” hat and shirt.

Case Keenum

Keenum served as a backup for a few years in Houston before backing up Nick Foles in St. Louis in 2015. In 2016 he started the first 10 games of the year in LA.

In those 10 games he threw 9 touchdowns and 11 interceptions and, quite frankly, looked like a quarterback who was a perennial backup and nothing more.

This offseason, Keenum left LA for Minnesota. After Sam Bradford suffered yet another season ending knee injury after week one, Keenum stepped in as the team’s starter.

In 15 games Keenum threw for 3,547 yards and 22 touchdowns, both 12th best in the league. The guy who just a year ago looked destined to be a career-long backup, is now leading the 13-3 Vikings into the playoffs as the 2-seed in the NFC, and one of the favorites to win it all.

And lastly…

Todd Gurley

In Gurley’s rookie year, he rushed for over 1,100 yards and had 10 touchdowns. He looked every bit like the 10th overall pick he was that year.

However, after a 2016 season in which he rushed for just 885 yards on 3.2 yards per carry, Gurley was looking more like a one year wonder than the next big thing.

And then Sean McVay came.

McVay said it was his goal to use Gurley more, because usually in football the smart thing to do is use your uber-talented running back as much as possible.

If the year to year changes in Goff, Keenum, or the entire Rams team weren’t big enough indictments on the coaching ability of Jeff Fisher, the ridiculous year that Gurley just had will be.

Some more stats for you:

  • In 2016, Gurley had 1,212 TOTAL yards. In 2017, he had 1,305 RUSHING yards.
  • This year, Gurley’s 19 total touchdowns led the league. That total also matched his combined total for 2015 and 2016.
  • Gurley’s totals of 2,093 scrimmage yards and 13 rushing touchdowns also led the NFL.
  • Gurley’s 2016 yards per carry average was 3.2. In 2017 it was 4.7
  • Last year, Gurley had a touchdown in only five games. This year he had six MULTI-TOUCHDOWN games.
  • In his first two years in the league, Gurley had 64 catches for 515 yards. This year he had 64 catches for 788 yards.

Oh yeah, he also had those numbers while sitting out week 17, as well as 4th quarters against the Seahawks, Giants and Colts.

Last year, Gurley called the offense a high school one. This year, he looked like a possible MVP. Truly remarkable what can happen when you get the ball to your best playmaker.

For teams and players to improve under a new head coach is one thing. What happened to the LA Rams, Jared Goff, Case Keenum and Todd Gurley goes beyond that.

The Rams were a disaster, Goff looked like a bust, Keenum looked like a permanent clipboard holder, and Gurley’s future looked uncertain.

What happened in 2017 wasn’t improvement. It was a completely different franchise, and three completely different football players.

And all it took was a different coach.

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