In the last 30 minutes, news has broke that Jeff Fisher has finally decided to be the head coach of the St. Louis Rams over the Miami Dolphins. The terms of the deal have not yet been released, but given his track record and the Rams struggles in recent years, you can expect Fisher to be on the sidelines in St. Louis for the next several seasons.
For the third straight offseason, a big name head coach joins the NFC West. Two years ago, Pete Carroll left USC to become the head man in Seattle with the Seahawks. Last offseason, Jim Harbaugh moved on from Stanford to revive the 49ers and led them to 13 victories in his first season in San Francisco.
Now you can add Fisher onto that list.
Obviously, adding another great head coach to the division makes things tougher for the Cardinals, but Fisher taking the Rams job means that defensive coordinator Ray Horton stays in Arizona. Horton really impressed the St. Louis organization in his interview last week, according to numerous reports.
We will never find out if Horton was a serious candidate or if they were interviewing him because of the NFL’s Rooney Rule, but Ken Whisenhunt has to be an extremely happy camper with this breaking news.
In his first season as a defensive coordinator, Horton’s Cardinals defense got off to a very rocky start in the first half of the season. The Arizona D was giving up yards in big chunks and opposing offenses were putting up tons of points on the scoreboard as well in the early portion of the season.
Things changed once the second half came around. As soon as the players got more comfortable with Horton’s philosophy and defensive scheme, the Cards defense finally lived up to their immense potential.
Arizona’s young and inexperienced corners improved in coverage after being bad in the first eight games, the young linebackers got to the quarterback and the combo of Darnell Dockett and Calais Campbell gave opposing offensive lines all sorts of problems. The Cardinals 6-2 record down the stretch was solely based on how well their defensive unit played.
Now with Horton back, he will have a full offseason with OTA’s and a training camp to implement his defense and continue coaching up some of the Cardinals young defensive players. Horton didn’t have that luxury last year due to to the league’s lockout.
Seeing the Rams add Fisher didn’t make trying to win the NFC West any easier. The Rams may be a bad football team at the moment, but that won’t last long given how good of a head coach Fisher is and how much money St. Louis will have to spend on free agents in the coming months ahead
At least, this means that Horton will be back and that is terrific news for this football team. He can continue building a defense that quietly could be one of the best units in the NFC come the 2012 season.