Los Angeles Rams' COO Explains Why Team Fired Jeff Fisher and Addresses Search for Next Coach - NBC Southern California
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Los Angeles Rams' COO Explains Why Team Fired Jeff Fisher and Addresses Search for Next Coach

Los Angeles Rams Vice President of Football Operations and COO Kevin Demoff explained in a 45-minute press conference why the team fired head coach Jeff Fisher and who the next coach might be.

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    Los Angeles Rams' COO Explains Why Team Fired Jeff Fisher and Addresses Search for Next Coach
    Jeff Gross/Getty Images
    Head coach Jeff Fisher of the Los Angeles Rams looks on against the Atlanta Falcons in the first half at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on December 11, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. Fisher was fired less than 24 hours later.

    We all knew it was coming.

    As the vice president of football operations and Chief Operating Officer of the Los Angeles Rams, Kevin Demoff stepped to the podium for the second time in as many weeks to address the media, he started his discourse with a few simple words:

    "This is a difficult day." 

    But was it?

    After a nearly 45-minute press conference at the Rams practice facility in Thousand Oaks, everyone in the room knew that the writing was on the wall, well before the final decision came down.

    It's always difficult when you have to fire someone, as it not only affects the individual themselves, but their co-workers, family, and friends. Nonetheless, the decision for Jeff fisher was a long time coming.

    The beginning of the end for Fisher likely began when he, with the help of general manager Les Snead, traded six draft picks on the eve of the NFL draft in order to select Cal quarterback Jared Goff with the No. 1 overall draft pick.

    Three months later, it was journeyman Case Keenum who was announced as the team's starting quarterback and as the team struggled from their initial 3-1 start to the season, the calls for Goff got louder and louder, voices that Fisher defiantly ignored until week nine of the season.

    Then, it was the highly publicized feud with Rams legend and Hall of Fame running back Eric Dickerson who was critical of the team on the L.A. airwaves. After asking for sideline passes for his friends, Fisher called Dickerson and told him not only would he be denied the passes, but that he was not welcome on the sideline as long as he was the head coach of the team.

    Dickerson drew a line in the sand after that phone call and vowed to never attend another Rams game as long as Fisher was the head coach. He retweeted fans praises, as well as their shouts for the Rams to fire Fisher immediately.

    Finally, as the Rams season began to fall faster than a ship filling with water in the open sea, a report came out claiming that Fisher and Snead's relationship had become "toxic," and that the organization had become a "Junior High-like atmosphere."

    The team's downright pathetic and embarrassing, 42-14, loss to the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum sealed the deal, and sent the Rams to a 4-9 record on the season. Just to add insult to injury, the loss tied Fisher with Dan Reeves for the most losses in NFL history with 165.

    "Making a decision such as this, especially during the season, is one of the most difficult in sports. I have great respect for Jeff as a coach, person, father, and friend," Rams Owner Stan Kroenke said in a statement on Monday. 

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    [LA] DEMOFF_KNBCDO54
    (Published Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2016)

    "He has worked tirelessly despite some challenging circumstances. He played an integral role in helping this team make history in returning the NFL to Los Angeles, and we always will be grateful for his commitment and dedication to our organization. 

    "However, this is the right time to make a change as our performance has not lived up to my or our fans' expectations. We all are focused on improving as an organization and building a team that makes Los Angeles proud. Our mission is to celebrate a Super Bowl title with our fans in L.A. Today is the first step to bring us closer to that goal."

    Demoff and Kroenke watched the game on Sunday together from a suite and discussed Fisher's fate into the wee hours of the evening. Kroenke decided to sleep on it, and in the morning made the call to bring the axe down on his head coach.

    If Fisher's firing is the first step to a Super Bowl, then the Rams will have a lot of stairs to climb over the next few seasons. Demoff admitted that the team's dismal season was not entirely Fisher's responsibility, but an "organizational failure," an announcement that could lead to the team cleaning house this offseason. 

    "Coach Fisher was the only decision made today, but collectively, we all need to make changes," Demoff said. "We need to take an entire look at this organization. It would be a mistake to assure you that Les [Snead] would be back." 

    The timing of his termination came as a surprise to Fisher as the Rams have just three games left in the season, including a game against the Seattle Seahawks in less than 72 hours. 

    "I don't think he was expecting it." Demoff said of Fisher's reaction to the news. "Jeff was obviously disappointed. He was looking forward to coming back and getting this team in a better place."

    Fans in Los Angeles were also expecting to see Fisher back on the sidelines next season, although admittedly, they were looking forward to it far less than the 58-year-old coach was.

    Fisher was 31-45-1 in five seasons as the Rams head coach. He never had a winning record, with his best finish coming in his inaugural year with the Rams in 2012 when the team ended the year at 7-8-1.

    Fisher was in the fifth and final year of his contract, but signed a two-year extension earlier in the year, a decision that shocked many when it was announced last Sunday before the Rams, 26-10, loss to the New England Patriots. 

    "You never want anyone going into a relocation situation as a lame duck," Demoff said of why Fisher was given an extension. "We did it before the move."

    It's normal when you're asking people to uproot their lives and families and move across the country that those same people would expect a certain amount of job security. Therefore, offering an extension to Fisher seemed appropriate at the time, and did not necessarily mean that the team would not part ways with their coach if they felt it necessary. In the case of Fisher, it was.

    Fisher was making $7 million this season and is expected to receive that amount for next season as part of his extension. After he received the news on Monday morning, he asked to be the first person to address the team. 

    Fisher told the team that he was let go as head coach, and vowed that he was there for them if they needed him. He reiterated his love for the players, and his disappointment that they were not able to get the job done. His parting words were to finish the final three games strong and that he would be rooting for them.

    The Rams named special teams coordinator, John Fassel, as the interim head coach, and with three NFC West division games remaining, the organization is hopeful that a change of leadership can spark the team down the stretch.

    "When you look at our team, we lost eight of nine and the last couple of losses weren't close. Those were factors in the decision," Demoff said. "There's never a good time, but with division games left, we thought we had a chance to win those games. At the end of the day, this team is not where it needs to be."

    Now the search begins for the next head coach of the Los Angeles Rams, a job that lit by the backdrop of Hollywood could prove to be pretty enticing for some of the top coaches in the country. 

    "We need to find the best head coach for the Los Angeles Rams and to do that, we have to look down every avenue," Demoff said about the search for the team's next head coach. "The biggest thing is, does he have a plan to maximize the potential of the offense."

    The next head hauncho of the Rams will have a Pro Bowl running back in Todd Gurley and a young franchise quarterback with a big arm in Goff. They will also have the allure of a brand new $2.6 billion dollar stadium in Inglewood to move into in 2019. 

    "What's most important with our fans is wins and losses and we need to find a coach moving forward to get us more wins than losses," concluded Demoff. "This is going to be a really attractive opening."

    At least that's what the Rams' job posting will read.

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