There’s no doubt of my affections for the Rich Eisen Podcast (REP). I listen to it every week and over the years it’s easily become my favorite NFL related iPod listens. It’s the perfect combination of everything NFL and pop culture so if that’s right up your alley then this is the podcast for you.
So it was a very pleasant surprise when I saw that this week’s episode had NFL Network’s Rich Eisen’s sit down with St. Louis Rams head coach and NFL Competition Committee member Jeff Fisher for the REP’s Combine Special.
They chat about Coach Fisher’s first year in St. Louis, the NFL scouting combine, and a few other important Rams topics.
Rich Eisen: How do you rank your first year in St. Louis?
It wasn’t a rebuilding year… It was not good enough from our standpoint. We lost games that we had a chance to win early on and throughout the season.
We learned a lot. That’s the thing I think is so good about what happened. Our young team learned a lot and we have to learn not to let those things happen again.
It’s a real fun team to coach and to win a game on the road was a weird experience because they hadn’t done it in a while.
Our division is an outstanding division. Arizona came to St. Louis undefeated (in week five). We forget about that at the beginning. It was quite a challenge for us and we were proud of the way they played.
(I love that Coach Fisher isn’t satisfied. Despite taking a 2-14 team to 7-8-1 in one season he did not mention specific records in the interview. I think most coaches would hung their hat on that sort of improvement. But not Coach Fisher. He just saw that the team is improving and growing towards getting better.)
Rich Eisen: “(James) Laurinaitis and Chris Long came to the set after the game. They said that it had been a very long time since they had played a game with a camera hovering over the middle of the field and the whole country watching. In the end, they were enjoying staying on the set so much Deion asked them to leave. But you could see how much joy they were taking in these moments.”
It’s hard you know. No team in a five year span in the history of the NFL lost more games than our organization prior to last year. Winning games is what it’s all about. We won a few and then we had one team in particular that took us ten quarters to beat.
It’s funny because you go through that tie experience. But then you play them three weeks later and you’re going to guarantee there’s no way that’s going to happen again. … And we were two minutes away from that happening again.
(I was at that game and stayed after to see Laurinaitis and Long hang out on the set. They were having a great time and most of all I think they were happy for Rams fans.)
Rich Eisen: “That was unbelievable. People maybe for the next decade having trouble dealing with Colin Kaepernick will have your team to blame. Because it was your team that knocked Alex Smith out of the game and ushering in the whole Kaepernick-ness of it all.”
Sorry about that. I would think the 49er fans are also Rams fans at heart.
(They can specifically thank Rams LB Jo-Lonn Dunbar and maybe DT Michael Brockers. We believe that it was a combination of Dunbar and Brocker’s hits on Alex Smith in week 10 that ultimately started the Colin Kaepernick era in San Francisco. And no sir. There’s no way any 49ers fans would ever admit to being Rams fans at heart.)
Rich Eisen: “Where do you stand on the whole subject on (Cam Newton, RG3, Colin Kaepernick type) quarterbacks and where offenses are going?”
Well, we’ve got Carolina this year so we’re going to see that offense five times. So we’ve got work to do as everybody else does. And it doesn’t mean to say that another one is not going to pop up someplace. That’s the challenge of the NFC West is the mobility at the quarterback position. The pistol, the read-option whatever you call it.
The NFC East has their own new challenge in Philadelphia with the high tempo. The game changes and you’re forced to adjust on both sides of the ball. Defensively we have to adjust.
Rich Eisen: “What do you think Bradford needs to do to take a step into that elite class?”
How about have his second year in the same offensive system? Because this will be the first time he’ll be able to experience that. Last year our offense was his third offense in three years.
We need to surround him with better people. He can make all the throws. He’s an outstanding deep ball thrower. He has more mobility than people think. He can run for first downs and do that kind of stuff.
We can do a better job of keeping him upright. We did that as we moved through the season and minimized the hits. We need to get some better people. We are working at that.
(Is Brian Schottenheimer’s offense the best fit for Bradford? I don’t know for sure but giving Bradford another year in the same system is a good way to figure it out. More importantly it sounds like the Rams are serious about getting Bradford the weapons he needs to have that break out season. “Better people” is a very broad term but I’m hoping it means solidifying the offensive line. That should be their number one priority.)
Rich Eisen: “What about Steven Jackson? Is he one of those people?”
Hope so. We are in the middle of that. Steven is out of the country and we are talking to his agent. We’d love for him to have a chance to finish his career with us.
(I read this as “We’d love to have Jack back but not at the $7 million dollar 2013 price tag.” Coach Fisher keeps talking about his young team and I’m not convinced that Jack is going to be a part of that youth movement. The Rams have Isaiah Pead, Daryl Richardson and Terrance Ganaway waiting in the wings.)
Rich Eisen: “Moving forward what are you hoping to get out of this combine? You saw some kids last year that you drafted that made some immediate impact.”
Jenks (Janoris Jenkins), Tru (Trumaine Johnson), Chris Givens and Daryl Richardson…
What you get out of this is you’ve got to aggressively attack the interview process. Get as much information as you can, ask as many questions as you can, and then hopefully we’re going to get enough guys participate where you’d be able to look and see some athletic ability.
We have a pretty good sense of the strengths of this draft. We have a good sense of what we need. We’re either going to do with these guys out here or we are going to try and do it through free agency.
(Strengths of this draft include safeties, linebackers, and on both sides on the line. Which is great news for the Rams since they need some starters as well as depth in those positions. Mike Mayock of NFL Network believes there isn’t really that Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Luke Kuechly-type star player in the first round of the draft. He said the number 20-25 picks in the draft are just as good as the number 5-10 picks. The Rams could be getting some great players with the 16th and 22nd picks in the first round.)
(Another quick note: Last year’s draft was orchestrated by General Manager Les Snead and Coach Fisher but they were using information put together by the previous regime’s scouting staff. For this April’s draft Snead will have intelligence gathered by his own people. This can only make things better, right?)
Update from @Shields3L – Most of the scouting staff is still the same from last yr. Only 3 guys gone. (Thanks for the info, Tim.)
Rich Eisen and Coach Fisher continue their conversation changing their focus to what was being discussed by the competition committee which Coach Fisher is a part of. Especially fun was listening to Rich Eisen campaign to get rid of his pet peeve, the Tuck Rule.
You can listen to the interview in its entirety here or on iTunes. Coach Fisher’s segment starts around the 45 minute mark.