Jeff Fisher chooses Rams over Dolphins
As first reported by SI’s Peter King, Jeff Fisher ended several days of tug-of-war between the Dolphins and Rams by accepting the St. Louis’ head coaching job.
Both St. Louis and Miami had been putting the full-court press on Fisher since the end of the regular season — the Rams let former coach Steve Spagnuolo go the day after completing a disappointing 2-14 season; the Dolphins fired Tony Sparano in mid-December.
The Titans bought out the final year of Fisher’s contract prior to 2011, ending a 17-year marriage between the two sides. Fisher took over as head coach of the Houston Oilers in 1994, then remained in that position when the franchise relocated to Tennessee in 1997. He posted a 142-120 overall record with the Titans, as well as three division titles and an AFC championship.
Fisher’s choice of St. Louis over Miami may have boiled down to control. The Dolphins have been a franchise in flux recently under current general manager Jeff Ireland. St. Louis, meanwhile, does not have a GM in place — and Fisher likely will now have a hand in deciding who gets that job.
The new Rams coach will do what he can to have a say over personnel decisions going forward.
First and foremost will be filling out the team’s staff, and there were reports this week that New Orleans defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, whose contract expires at the end of this season, will follow Fisher to St. Louis.
Fisher also has the benefit of a potential franchise quarterback in Sam Bradford, who just finished his second season as the Rams’ starter. Contrast that to the Dolphins, who started 2011 with Chad Henne at QB, then turned to Matt Moore down the stretch following a season-ending injury to Henne.
The Rams also hold the No. 2 pick in April’s draft, which should give them some terrific leverage. Assuming the Colts select Andrew Luck No. 1 overall, St. Louis may be able to hold a bidding war for the second spot and the rights to take Baylor quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III.
For Miami, this marks the second consecutive offseason with a botched coaching search. Last year, Dolphins owner made headlines when he aggressively pursued Jim Harbaugh, despite Tony Sparano’s presence as head coach. Harbaugh chose the 49ers, Ross gave Sparano a contract extension, and the Dolphins followed up an unsettled offseason with an 0-7 start to 2011.
The Rams have not made the playoffs since the 2004 season and have not finished above .500 since 2003. They’re banking on Fisher, who has posted 10 records of 8-8 or better, to change their luck.