In sticking with tradition, I’m making yet another odd choice for my NFC West game ball honor in week 10. The game ball goes to, Jeff Fisher. Yep, a coach.
Working with a young squad on both sides of the ball, Jeff Fisher was able to get all he could out of his team, and then some. The 49ers are considered by some to be the best team in the NFC, and a serious super bowl threat, but the Rams still in the middle of a rebuild were able to almost beat them, in their own house; and Jeff Fisher deserves a lot of the credit.
Jeff Fisher’s toughest calls weren’t only made during the game either. He sat his incredibly talented, but equally immature starting cornerback Janoris Jenkins pregame for off field issues on the western road trip. This move was typical of the no-nonsense coach, and had a good effect on his team. They responded favorably and had a good game on defense. This move also had an effect on special teams, as Janoris Jenkins had been returning kicks for parts of the season.
In game, he shined as well. In the crazy world of post-game sports media the decisions he made during this game could have easily made him the scapegoat had they lost this game, but those are the kinds of risks Fisher is willing to take. This is the same guy who chose Kerry Collins over Vince Young, before Young became a possible CFLer. With 4th and 4 on the St. Louis 10 in the second quarter, conventional wisdom would be to punt the ball and trust your defense to hold. Apparently Fisher didn’t get the memo. Anticipating the outside rusher would move inside to attempt a block, leaving McLeod alone on the outside, Fisher called the fake and it worked like a charm. Throwing from his own end zone Hekker connected with McLeod for a 21 yard catch and run that would extend the drive. That drive wouldn’t lead to points, but it kept San Francisco from getting another chance to score before the half ended. He would make a similar call in the fourth, but this time it led to a go ahead score. Don’t be surprised if teams start sending their defense out in a cover 2 on St. Louis punts at this rate...
When dealing with a young team, so accustomed to losing as this Rams squad is, instilling confidence can be an overwhelming challenge -just ask Steve Spagnuolo- but the Rams lucked out on getting the one guy who might be capable of doing it. Jeff Fisher’s calm and confident demeanor just seems to work its way through the ranks, something young teams need during a rebuild. He’s even had an effect on free agency; I seriously can’t see Finnegan signing in St.Louis if Fisher isn’t there. He does it all, and Rams fans, I can’t tell you enough how fortunate you are to have him on your sidelines. This is why he gets my week 10 NFC West game ball. Even if he’s a coach.