Editor’s Note: This week Couch Slouch is presenting several sets of disturbing facts and figures — all verified by an independent auditor — in regard to the interminable, inexplicable NFL coaching career of Jeff Fisher. Some of these numbers might shock and jolt people’s sensibilities; reader discretion is advised.
Jeff Fisher is tied for 11th, with Bill Parcells, for career victories among NFL head coaches. Tied for 11th! That is a lot of victories.
But among the 20 coaches with the most victories in NFL history, Fisher has the lowest winning percentage (.518).
Fisher has never won a championship.
Fisher’s last winning season came in 2008.
Fisher’s last playoff victory came in 2003.
In 20 full seasons as an NFL coach, Fisher’s teams have finished 7-9, 7-8-1 or 8-8 10 times.
So, you might ask — and if you don’t ask, I will — how in the name of Norv Turner is Jeff Fisher still a head coach in the NFL?
(I bring up Turner — currently offensive coordinator of the Minnesota Vikings — because, of the 38 NFL coaches with at least 100 victories, he is the only one with a losing record, 114-122-1. Which makes him sort of a poor man’s Jeff Fisher.)
It’s not as if Fisher’s pedestrian streak snuck up on anybody — his first four seasons as a coach, his Houston/Tennessee Oilers went 7-9, 8-8, 8-8 and 8-8.
Those numbers scream mediocrity, no?
Among my data-mining associates, this is called “statistical pattern recognition.”
Among my drinking buddies, this is called, “Fisher’s an 8-8 coach, man.”
However, in a fateful turn of events in his fifth season, Fisher led the Tennessee Titans in 1999 to a 13-3 record and a Super Bowl appearance, which apparently gave him carte blanche to coach in pedestrian fashion for the entirety of the 21st century.
Considering the turnover rate among football coaches, how is it that only eight men in NFL history have coached more games than Fisher? Heck, Marty Schottenheimer was fired by the San Diego Chargers in 2006 following a 14-2 season.
After 16 ½ seasons with the Oilers/Titans, Fisher was out of work one year, and now is in his fifth season coaching the St. Louis/Los Angeles Rams.
I watched HBO’s “Hard Knocks” this summer — featuring the Rams — to get a better sense of Fisher. After just two episodes, my sense was this:
If Fisher coached Burger King, Burger King wouldn’t sell any burgers.
On “Hard Knocks,” we saw Fisher give a bizarre speech to his players, after cutting a wide receiver for breaking a team rule, that went viral:
“Little things are important, follow me? I am not f---ing going 7-9 or 8-8 or 9-7, okay? Or 10-6 for that matter. This team is too talented. I am not going to settle for that, okay? I know what I’m doing. We had some 7-9 bulls--- this morning. . . . We don’t need it.”
He may know what he is doing, but whatever he’s doing seems to lead to, well, 7-9.
In Week 6, Fisher went for a fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line on the last play of the first half, rather than kick a field goal, in a 14-14 game in Detroit. It failed; the Rams lost to the Lions, 31-28.
In Week 5, trailing the Buffalo Bills by four points at home with less than four minutes left, Fisher tried a fake punt from the Rams 23. It failed; the Bills converted the botched trick play into a touchdown and won, 30-19.
“I’d do it all over again,” he said. “We had the opportunity and they made the play. We didn’t. But that’s the way we’re wired. That’s our fabric. And that’s taken us a long way.”
A long way? A long way to where?
I’ll tell you where: As Rams coach, Fisher is 30-40-1. That’s where.
At the moment, the Rams this season are 3-4; I checked with my gridiron sabermetric gurus, and over a full 16-game schedule, this projects precisely to a 6.864-9.136 record.
That sounds an awful lot like, well, 7-9.
Q. In your first two nuptials, as the two-minute warning approached and everyone but you knew the marriage was over, did your ex-wives graciously “take a knee” or did they call a triple reverse to try and run up the score? (Phil Heffler; Frederick, Md.)
A. They definitely were running somewhere.
Q. Was the Bob Dylan Chrysler Super Bowl ad the deciding factor in his winning the Nobel? (Michael Seltz; Alexandria, Va.)
A. Well, that commercial ended with Dylan shooting pool — historically, the Nobel committee is a sucker for cultivated billiards players.
Q. Will there be instant replay at the pearly gates if you get a bad call? (Jim Hayes; Haymarket, Va.)
A. Albert Brooks actually made that movie in 1991 – “Defending Your Life.”
Q. To show support for Donald Trump, will Tom Brady be choosing “tails” for every coin toss the rest of the season? (Terry Golden; Vienna, Va.)
A. Pay the man, Shirley.
Q. Is it true the Russians hacked the Cleveland Browns and then returned the data? (Roger Strauss; Silver Spring, Md.)
A. Pay this wise soul too, Shirley.
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