Jeff Fisher is often identified as one of the most middling head coaches in NFL history. And there’s a good reason.
Despite never being a total flop, he was also never an unmitigated success. His resume has always been propped up by his intermittent triumphs with the Tennessee Titans, specifically when he coached them to an AFC Championship and Super Bowl appearance during their first season rebranded as the Titans, following their switch from the Tennessee Oilers.
Look at his overall track record, though, and a certain pattern starts to emerge.
Through 22 years of coaching, Fisher’s teams are 12 games above .500. A winning record is nothing to slouch about in the NFL. It’s a big deal. But his squads only made five total playoff appearances during that time. That’s hardly an impressive hit rate.
Hence why it was so curious that people were incredibly high on the St. Louis Rams, now the Los Angeles Rams, hiring him to coach the franchise in 2012. Sure, he was an upgrade over his predecessor, Steve Spagnuolo, who was a complete flop. But Fisher never demonstrated the concrete ability to guide his teams to that next level. If anything, with the exception of those early Titans squads, his units had a reputation of underperforming.
Sure enough, the Rams fell into the same category during his tenure. They never won more than seven games during his four-plus seasons at the helm. Poor quarterback play was a large part of the problem. Fisher inherited Sam Bradford, who spent two seasons under him as the starting QB, and then gave the keys to Austin Davis and Case Keenum.
Granted, the front office is at fault for never putting a solid QB foundation in place. At the same, Fisher never made the call to switch to Jason Goff in 2016, which was a big part of the reason he got fired.
The flip side of this argument: Goff put together a couple of bright seasons under current head coach Sean McVay, but he hasn’t exactly developed into a superstar. Fisher cannot be held responsible for the Rams’ struggles during his tenure as a result—not entirely.
What this comes down is more complicated. Fisher was a mediocre coach who was given mediocre rosters that he led towards mediocrity. That makes him neither a huge letdown or huge success. His time with the Rams was…well, in reality, it just was. That’s it. Nothing more.