Now that the coaching search is over we can begin to look more toward 2012. With Jeff Fisher now at the helm and the Rams with an identity moving forward it’s time to look at the personnel that will take the field for OTA’s and mini-camp before you know it.
While in Tennessee Jeff Fisher's Titans had the reputation for playing tenacious, tough football. The offense is often remembered as something out of the George Clooney movie , Leatherheads. Where the forward pass was unheard of or a novelty at best.
Yes Fisher had and used Eddie George as a focal point of his offense. However it has been noted that a pain point for Fisher in is time in Tennessee was the lack of ever having a true number 1 wide receiver. It’s not as if Fisher had Jerry Rice or even Tory Holt lining up yet elected to just hand it off repeatedly to George.
Fear not Rams fans there will surely be a role for Bradford on the 2012 Rams. And the QB will actually be allowed to throw the football down the field in an attempt to score touchdowns.
Some of what Fisher likes to do is, indeed, old-school when compared to the recent high-scoring trend that's turned NFL games into live action matches of Madden. Fisher does like to run the football and control the clock, field position and the game. He believes in competitive, maybe a bit rough around the edges men doing the blocking up front. He would like to see his guys punish opponents. He does not object to seeing opponents limping away in pain. This is the guy who got the most EVER out of Albert Haynesworth.
You know…that boring style of football that has the San Francisco 49ers, New York Giants and Baltimore Ravens all one win away from the Super Bowl. Four Pillars beware.
Despite the league’s best efforts to turn today’s NFL into a game of touch-football, there's still a place for ground-and-pound. But if your worries are that Fisher's offense will be one-dimensional and predictable, just simmer down.
In listening to his press conference, Fisher noted Bradford as a key factor in wanting to take the Rams job. Fisher should be very good for Bradford's physical and mental health and overall development. If the Rams can find a playmaker or two, Bradford should rebound from the battering he absorbed in 2011.
The 2011 Rams gave up more sacks than any NFL team. During coach Steve Spagnuolo's three seasons, otherwise known as SpagBall only two NFL teams allowed more sacks than the Rams. That is bad. Bradford was sacked 36 times in his 10 starts and pressured on 35 percent of his dropbacks. That's not taking into consideration the number of times he was hit while throwing or knocked down.
With Fisher running the show this will be a focus for sure. In his full 16 seasons as the head coach in Houston/Tennessee, Fisher's teams had the league's third-lowest sack rate. In quarterback Steve McNair's time as the starter for Fisher, the Titans ranked among the league's top 10 for fewest sacks allowed in six of nine seasons.
Granted this will not happen overnight but rest assured Fisher will address the situation and hold those accountable in a way Spagnuolo and company never did.
Bradford, to the delight of the fans as well, will soon realize he'll be given the opportunity to make plays downfield. Fisher's passing game in Tennessee was more effective than given credit for. For Rams fans a bit confused by this concept. Downfield usually is defined by attempting a pass beyond the first down marker. Often of 20 yards or more. I know, I know, I had to look in the rule book too. But apparently it IS allowed.
McNair started under Jeff Fisher from 1997 to 2005 and was voted the NFL's co-MVP in 2003, made it to three Pro Bowls and of course one memorable Super Bowl. Tennessee's passing game over that period will never be confused for the Madden type stats Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Matt Stafford and Drew Brees have been putting up. But there was a lot to like.
In his time as the starter in Tennessee the Titans ranked 10th in the league in completion percentage, 10th in passer rating, fifth in average yards at the point of the catch, 10th in passing yards, 12th in touchdown passes, and 10th in yards per attempt. The Titans also had the NFL's third-lowest interception rate over that period.
Making these numbers all the more impressive considering the Titans' cast of receivers. Something Bradford and Ram Nation can relate to. McNair top guys were wide receivers Derrick Mason, Kevin Dyson, Drew Bennett (yeah, that Drew Bennett) and tight end Frank Wycheck (are you listening Lance Kendricks!).
I cannot speculate if Fisher will modify his approach in St. Louis; a lot will depend on who he brings in as offensive coordinator and the direction the Rams go in both the offseason free agent market and the NFL draft . But this much seems certain: Fisher will do what's best for Bradford.