The Jeff Fisher preservation movement has begun.
Former NFL player – and fellow USC alum – Keyshawn Johnson offered this tasty nugget about Fisher on the Stephen A. Smith Show on SiriusXM Radio this week: Fisher was “forced” to draft quarterback Jared Goff with the No. 1 pick.
Here’s what Johnson had to say: “Well, I think [Jared Goff’s benching] is about everybody. I think it’s the people that have to get Jared Goff prepared. I think it’s about the individuals that made the decision to draft him, whether it was Kevin Demoff or whether it was Les Snead with a little bit of help from Jeff Fisher … From my outside people and the inside people that I know with the Rams, that wasn’t the choice that Jeff Fisher really wanted. I think he was basically forced to draft Jared Goff.”
Here we go. Clearly, there is a faction to help separate Fisher from Goff … in Goff’s second week as an NFL player. Here is the biggest takeaway from Johnson’s comments: There’s likely people connected to Fisher who already think Goff will be a bust.
That’s the problem, and Fisher, at some point, will be fired if Goff is a bust whether he was forced to take him or not. I know there have been reports that Fisher, who has not had a winning record in four full seasons with the Rams, is getting close to a contract extension. Still, if Goff doesn’t develop, Fisher will go at some point regardless of an extension. NFL coaches get fired all the time with years due on their deals.
Clearly, Johnson got this information from somewhere and clearly it’s a message someone wants out. Do I buy that Fisher didn’t want Goff?
Sure, definitely. But he wouldn’t be the first NFL coach “forced’ to work with a player that wasn’t necessarily his first choice. Owners and general managers have long selected players (or signed them in free agency) that their coaches didn’t want.
It’s not ideal, but coach ’em up. After all, that’s the prime objective of being a coach, anyway.
The Rams gave up a gaggle of draft picks in a trade with the Tennessee Titans to move up to take Goff with the No. 1 pick. If Fisher didn’t approve of the move, he could have and should have made his voice heard, even if the decision was out of his hands and in the hands of owner Stan Kroenke or general manager Les Snead (or both).
Johnson said in the interview that Fisher would have rather kept the picks given up for Goff and continued to build the roster. If Fisher stated his case and lost, then, he can feel good about it. If that’s the scenario, he’d know his team’s owner and his general manager knew how he felt.
The same goes if Fisher wanted Carson Wentz over Goff.
Of course, this Goff-Wentz topic is getting hot (and it will stay hot; the Indianapolis Colts still are being praised for taking Peyton Manning over Ryan Leaf 18 years ago).
Goff, a California product, looked out of his element and frail in the preseason. The player the Rams mortgaged their future for couldn’t even work his way up to the backup quarterback position and he was inactive in Week 1, a game in which the Rams looked completely anemic on offense, a 28-0 loss to the underwhelming San Francisco 49ers.
Fisher has been non-committal if Goff will be active this week.
Meanwhile, Wentz, who the Philadelphia Eagles traded up with Cleveland to take, was outstanding in a Week 1 win over the Cleveland Browns. The North Dakota State product completely looked the part. He looked like a pro quarterback.
Johnson made his feelings about Goff’s chances in the NFL known in his interview with Smith.
“Look. I don’t care what anybody says, and I say this all the time. I’ve seen Jared Goff for three years. Three years out here in the Pac-12,” Johnson said. “I like him. He’s a nice kid, but he wouldn’t have been my No. 1 overall pick. He just wouldn’t have been. He doesn’t give me… This isn’t Andrew Luck or Cam Newton we’re talking about. You don’t move up to take this type of guy.”
Johnson said the Rams made the decision to trade for and draft Goff to make a splash as they moved from St. Louis to L.A. That was clear from the moment the trade was announced. Again, if Fisher’s hands were tied, the best he could have done was make his feelings known to his bosses.
I’m not surprised about Johnson’s revelations and nor do I feel sorry for Fisher about it. It happens. Fisher’s job wasn’t necessarily to decide on the draft, but to coach who the team decides to draft.
The fact that word is getting out that Fisher didn’t want Goff probably means two things to the “outside people and the inside people”: The team is worried Goff will never develop and that Fisher will pay for it with his job at some point.
That’s the way it goes in the NFL. If a mistake it made, the coach often pays for it with his employment. It appears just one game into the season, that is the direction the Fisher-Goff relationship is headed.