To say that the St. Louis Rams have been really impressive over the first five weeks of the NFL season would be a gross overstatement. But they have probably exceeded most folks’ expectations up to this point under head coach Jeff Fisher, who returned to coaching after a year away from the game. Fisher has the Rams at 3-2 and coming off back-to-back victories over Seattle and Arizona in the span of just four days.
Jeff Fisher joined KOA in Denver with The Dave Logan Show to discuss his return after a year off, why he chose to take that year off, Peyton Manning’s comeback season, dealing with Gregg Williams’ ban following “Bounty Gate” and the potential for his St. Louis Rams team.
What has it been like coming back to coaching after the year away?:
“It’s been a lot of fun. This is a great group of guys, a young group. We’ve really enjoyed it, really from Day One. They’ve got a lot of enthusiasm, a great deal of energy, and they’ve done a really good job of kind of deleting the past and moving forward. We don’t reference what happened here in the past. I’ve left that up to everyone else. … We are young. We had 17 rookies on the opening-day roster, and we’re getting contributions from a lot of younger players.”
As a guy who was with Tennessee for so long, does there come a point in a coach’s tenure where it’s just time to part ways?:
“No, I don’t think so. … I made a personal decision and it was not an easy decision, but it was time for me to take a break. I had already planned on moving forward. I was several weeks into the offseason and making changes and then it just got to the point where it just made sense. Nowadays, because of so much turnover on the roster on an annual basis — 20 to 25 percent if you’re doing things right — I don’t think longevity is an issue or is a negative from a coaching standpoint. I would say you’d like to see, over time, ownership give coaches more of an opportunity to build a program rather than change coaches every two or three years. That’s just not fair to players and not fair to fans.”
You may have faced Peyton Manning as much as any other coach. How did you think he would impact the Denver Broncos coming back from the injury?:
“There’s no doubt that I felt like he would return and eventually return to, physically, to where he was before he was injured. It looks like he’s just about there. He’s doing a great job with that offense. … It looks like he’s got things going there.”
What was it like to go through the whole “Bounty Gate” situation with Gregg Williams, who you hired as your defensive coordinator, getting suspended? And is he welcome back with you if he gets reinstated?:
“I can’t speak for Coach Williams’ future here or any place else, but to answer the first part of your question, I think it’s easier to replace a head coach in March than it is a defensive coordinator. There’s just nobody available and permission is no longer permitted. But we were in a good situation prior to Gregg being banned, particularly because I’ve got good coaches on this staff. … It’s a solid staff and we’re kind of doing it by committee right now and so far we’re having success.”
How good do you think your Rams team can be and have you discussed with them the fact that they could be a playoff team?:
“You know me, it’s one week at a time. I am especially proud of these guys to handle a difficult situation of a Sunday-Thursday. … We played two division opponents that were off to a great start and found a way to beat Seattle and came back four days later and were fortunate to beat Arizona. This young group really adjusted well to the short schedule. … I think our team’s going to be really challenged here and defined over the next month, from the standpoint of three of our next four games are on the road. We go to Miami, we travel to London and then we travel to San Francisco. This young team is going to really be challenged because that’s a difficult stretch of games.”