Fisher Named Head Coach
ST. LOUIS, Mo. – The St. Louis Rams announced today that Jeff Fisher has been appointed as the club’s head coach.
Fisher, who enters his 31st NFL season in 2012, becomes the 26th full-time head coach in Rams history. He returns to coaching after a one-year hiatus and joins the Rams following a 16-season stint as the head coach of the Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans. In addition to his vast coaching experience, Fisher enjoyed a five-year playing career (1981-85) as a defensive back and punt returner with the Chicago Bears.
“I deeply appreciate the opportunity that Stan Kroenke has afforded me and I’m privileged to be the new Head Coach of the St. Louis Rams,” Fisher said. “Our commitment is to build a disciplined, competitive football team as soon as possible, with the goal of bringing another championship to St. Louis.”
Fisher joined the Houston/Tennessee franchise as defensive coordinator in 1994 and was promoted to interim head coach that season. He was given the job permanently in 1995 and remained the franchise’s head coach through 2010.
Fisher boasts a career record of 142-120 (.542) in the regular season. He’s tied with Tom Coughlin for 19th in NFL history in regular season victories, and among active head coaches, Fisher and Coughlin are tied for third in wins, trailing only Bill Belichick (175) and Mike Shanahan (157). Fisher also boasts a 5-6 postseason record and led Tennessee to the franchise’s only Super Bowl appearance, one that saw the Titans fall to the Rams in a tightly-contested battle following the 1999 season.
Fisher guided Tennessee to six playoff appearances (1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2007, 2008) from 1999 through 2009. Only three teams (Indianapolis, New England and Phila*delphia) in that time period had more postseason appearances than the Titans (tied with six other teams). Fisher’s playoff accomplishments include three Division titles (2000, 2002 and 2008), two AFC Championship Games (1999, 2002) and one Super Bowl berth (XXXIV).
Hallmarks of a Fisher-led team include a stout rushing defense, the ability to possess the ball with a strong running game and poise in the midst of adversity. In 11 of his 16 seasons in Tennessee, the Titans defense ranked in the top 10 against the run and ranked fourth in rushing defense over that period (Baltimore, Pittsburgh, San Diego). In 2003, the Titans finished first in the NFL in rushing defense for only the second time in franchise history (1993).
On the offensive side of the ball, Fisher’s teams finished in the top 10 in rushing yards per game eight times during his Oilers/Titans tenure and from 1995-2010, only five NFL teams averaged more rushing yards per game than Fisher’s clubs. Additionally, in 12 of Fisher’s 16 seasons, the Titans have finished with an average time of possession number of more than 31 minutes for the season.
Fisher’s ability to lead and shape a team is achieved through a combination of toughness and insight as a former NFL player.
“I always enjoyed playing for him just because of his knowledge, his passion for the game, his understanding of the game and the way he approached the game,” said former Titans Pro Bowl tight end Frank Wycheck. “It was an aggressive, attacking kind of style, an old-school mentality of power and just beating on your opponent. He always kept it fresh and always got us ready to play.”
Fisher believes in the philosophy that a strong running game helps control the clock and keeps your defense fresh. In 12 of the last 14 seasons, the Titans have finished in the top half of the NFL in rushing offense including seven top 10 finishes. Additionally, in 12 of the last 15 seasons, the Titans have finished with an average time of possession number of more than 31 minutes for the season.
Fisher originally joined the Oilers’ coaching staff on Feb. 9, 1994, after spending two seasons as the defensive backs coach for the San Francisco *****. He was elevated to head coach on Nov. 14, 1994, replacing Jack Pardee, for the final six games of the season.
Fisher officially began his coaching career as an assistant for Buddy Ryan and the Philadelphia Eagles in 1986, tutoring the defensive backs for three seasons before becoming the NFL’s youngest defensive coordinator in 1988. One year later, under Fisher’s tutelage, the Eagles’ defense led the NFL in interceptions (30) and quarterback sacks (62). In 1990, Philadelphia’s defense paced the league in rushing defense and ranked second in quarterback sacks.
In 1991, Fisher headed west to be reunited with his college coach John Robinson, serving as the Los Angeles Rams’ defensive coordinator before joining the ***** one year later.
A former defensive back at the University of Southern California, Fisher played for Robinson in a star-studded defensive backfield that included future NFL stars Ronnie Lott, Dennis Smith and Joey Browner. Fisher’s career college statistics included five interceptions and 108 tackles. The versatile Fisher also served as the Trojans’ backup kicker and earned Pac-10 All-Academic honors in 1980.
Originally a seventh-round draft selection of the Chicago Bears in 1981, Fisher appeared in 49 games as a defensive back and return specialist in five NFL seasons. He earned a Super Bowl ring after Chicago’s 1985 Super Bowl season, despite spending the year on injured reserve with an ankle injury that prematurely ended his playing career. During that season, Fisher began his post-playing career by assisting Ryan as an “unofficial” coach while the Bears ultimately defeated the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XX.
He left Chicago in 1985 holding a number of team records including: number of punt return yards for a season with 509 yards in 1981, number of punt returns in a season with 58 in 1984, and number of punt returns in one game with eight on Dec. 16, 1984, at Detroit. He also recorded the longest punt return by a Bear in 39 years with an 88-yard return for a touchdown on Sept. 20, 1981, against Tampa Bay.
Since 2000, Fisher has served on the NFL Competition Committee and was co-chairman of the committee from 2001-2010. Last season, he served as a special advisor to the competition committee, which is instrumental in guiding the league through rule changes and ways to improve the game.
In 2001, Fisher was named the winner of the Horrigan Award, given by the Pro Football Writers of America to the NFL representative that is the most cooperative with the media.
Additionally, Fisher was named the 2000 Tennessean of the Year by Nashville’s Tennessean and 1999 Sports Person of the year by the Nashville Sports Council.