Home Football Head Coach Jeff Fisher End of Season Press Conference

Head Coach Jeff Fisher End of Season Press Conference

by Press Release

(Opening Remarks)
“We haven’t had a chance to visit since Seattle post-game, so I thought I would go back there and then move forward into what’s ahead and look back at the entire season. After looking at the game with the staff earlier, prior to the players coming in Monday morning, the positive things that stood out was, obviously, the defensive performance throughout most of the game, for the most part. The special teams production in all areas. We got creased a little bit on one kickoff cover, but I thought our special teams unit matched-up very well. Johnny (Hekker) did a great job punting. Guys tackled well. Offensively, tough day against an outstanding defense. (QB) Shaun (Hill) made some plays. His numbers were decent with the exception of the two interceptions, which if you’re going to describe an interception, those two things that happened shouldn’t be described as interceptions, but nonetheless they went down as interceptions and turnovers. I thought Shaun threw the ball well against that defense. The biggest difference in this game, obviously, was the defensive score and, of course, our inability to convert third downs. And we had difficulty running the football. But, I was especially proud of the way the guys played in the final game – a tough place to play. They played hard. I’m disappointed that they didn’t win. They had some opportunities.

“When we finished with that, we met with the team yesterday and you got to visit with them. We had our wrap-up meetings, set our goals for the offseason. Went through the do’s and don’ts for the offseason. I sensed a great deal of enthusiasm and energy. The guys left on a positive note, despite the record, despite leaving 24 hours after a loss. They all put forth a tremendous effort this past year and I know they’re looking forward to coming back and changing things significantly. We told them, I mentioned to them that there’s nothing better than being out on the practice field on Wednesday after the regular season is over. So, that’s our focus and that’s our goal.

“I know you got a chance to talk to (QB) Sam (Bradford). Sam and I have talked kind of off and on throughout, since the injury. I’m sure we’re going to be getting together here soon. He’s very excited about the opportunity to come back and compete for the spot here. There probably will be another quarterback in the building he’ll be competing with. What that looks like, I can’t tell you right now – from a draft standpoint or from free agency. But, he’ll be competing. We have some work to do, obviously, from a contractual standpoint that I’m confident we’ll sort some things out. Just looking at some numbers, Sam – since our arrival here – is 5-2-1 in the division and the other quarterbacks are 2-8. I think that’s indicative of the type of talent that he has. Most of those wins came when this teams was not, in our opinion, as good as it is now. The key to his success and to his future, obviously, is being able to stay healthy.

“Going back, looking at the year, highlights, lowlights, a lot of good things. Beat some good teams. Unfortunately lost some close games at the end. You can take a lot of stats and numbers and see a lot of positive things. Our defense, in points allowed, I think was fourth or fifth and 17.7 points per game if you exclude the returns. Our offense, on the other hand, we only scored 18 points per game. When you’re allowing 10 returns for touchdowns, then you have a point differential of less than a point – you’re going to lose some football games. That’s kind of what happened to us. In our five returns for touchdowns, we won four of those five games. It’s not new news, it’s just reality of the National Football League. It’s hard to overcome those kinds of things. There’s one team in the playoffs right now that is minus in takeaway/giveaway and that would be the (Indianapolis) Colts. Everybody else that’s minus is watching this weekend.

“As far as our special teams are concerned, we gave the game balls Monday morning to the entire kickoff return team and Benny (Cunningham) for leading the NFC in kickoff returns. I thought it was an outstanding effort. Our production on the punt team, our punt cover team…I think we’re second in net punt returns, so a lot of good things accomplished on special teams this year with some players who hadn’t played special teams before. Have a good core. Really happy with the production from Daren Bates and, as you know, Chase Reynolds and Will Herring and Cody (Davis). Those guys really had an outstanding year. We have some work to do. The big picture, overall – looking back – I think we’re better than 6-10. We played a lot of young players. I think we’ve taken a step. We should be in position to compete and contend next year. The key, we obviously have some holes and some improving that needs to take place during the offseason with respect to a number of players.”

(On if it’s possible that QB Sam Bradford will be back with the same contract)
“I’m not going to go into specifics because we have not had the time to sit down and discuss it. I appreciate the question, but I’m not going to answer that. I think it would make sense that both sides need to get together and work something out.”

(On how hard it is to overcome returned touchdowns particularly when the majority have occurred in the second half)
“That’s a good point. It’s not only when they take place, it’s against who that they’re taking place in close games. Those things, ball security’s got to be very, very important to us. The play in Seattle, that was two outstanding defensive plays, that’s how Seattle plays. Punch the ball out and happens to land in their lap and they score and then (Seahawks CB) Earl’s (Thomas) play on the goal line should go down as one of the better defensive plays of the year, when he knocked the ball out from (RB) Benny’s (Cunningham) hand. If he’s there a yard sooner or a yard later, it’s either a touchdown or he’s tackled on the one (-yard line), but he gets there just…timing is perfect and the ball comes out and results as a touchback.”

(On how much better the team could have performed had Bradford not been injured)
“Again, it’s hard to say. Like I said, you look at his record against the division since we got here, one would expect that to carry over against some other teams as well. I can’t give you the exact number, but we would have a different record, significantly.”

(On if Bradford is entering the offseason as the No. 1 quarterback or if it will be an open competition)
“Yes, there’s going to be competition at the quarterback position, there’s no doubt. Like I said, with somebody that’s not in the building right now. We’re hopeful for that. You’ve got to be realistic, but yeah I think we need to do that. Sam understands that. He doesn’t have any problem with competition. He’s been competing his whole life.”

(On if he is interested in retaining QBs Austin Davis and Shaun Hill)
“Yes. We have a number of unrestricted free agents that, as a general statement, we’d like to have all back. We’re going to see if we can get that done.”

(On what qualities he’s looking for in a quarterback)
“If you’re talking about free agency then these guys should have shown that they have the ability to win games. If you’re talking about draft class, then you’re talking about all those different assets: The arm strength and the decision-making ability, the escapability and the ability to win, the ability to make plays after an interception. There’s a long list.”

(On his thoughts on Offensive Coordinator Brian Schottenheimer)
“Well first off, I’m not anticipating any changes on the coaching staff and I think Brian is an outstanding play caller. He’s very organized. He’s an excellent teacher. You can’t put the record on his shoulders. That’d be very, very unfair.”

(On if he sees any similarities from when he coached the Tennessee Titans to several 7-8 seasons and then finally got over the hump and won 13 games)
“We see a lot of similarities with it. At that time we committed to a quarterback and if he had, not plenty, but he had experience. We had a running game and things just turned around real quick. This roster has got a chance to be real good. You look at the age and the years of experience in our secondary, for example, right now. This groups’ going to be together for quite some time. This is a situation where anything can happen.”

(On if he feels this offseason is the right time to sprinkle in more veterans to add more experience)
“Well, we’re going to look. We’re going to look at free agency. I think we’ll be able to do that. We’ve done that each year. Everybody that’s been here that’s returned, has got another year of experience right now. Yeah, it would make sense to see if you get some, but you don’t want to go old either. You can’t go out and get somebody on the twilight of his career and expect to be productive.”

(On if it will be a challenge to convince free agents to come to St. Louis with relocation still a possibility)
“I don’t think that’s going to be an issue. I really don’t. I went through it before. I went down that path before and we didn’t have any problems with uncertainty because that’s what you’re talking about right now is uncertainty.”

(On if anybody other than OL Rodger Saffold is scheduled to have surgery in the offseason)
“Yeah we have a number of them. Not going to go into detail right now because we’re still doing tests. You asked about Rodger, yeah he needs to have the shoulder fixed. He’s going to. He’s excited about it and we’re going to get it done as quickly as we can.”

(On if the lack of consistency from the offense can be attributed to to all the injuries at the quarterback position)
“Well I think we’ve spent the better part of a year and a half with three different quarterbacks. I’m not laying blame on anyone of them, but I think that’s a contributing factor. We’re playing a lot of young players. I expect the offensive line to be significantly better, some way, somehow next year. We’ve got to do a better job protecting our quarterback. I would expect us to take a big step offensively. Losing (WR) Brian (Quick) was I think a significant loss the way he was playing early. (WR) Kenny (Britt) stepped up and played. ‘Cookie’ (TE Jared Cook) has exactly the same numbers he did last year. I think as a staff we plan on and one of the priorities is getting (WR) Tavon (Austin) the ball more. Looking back we need to get him more involved.”

(On if he thinks despite the six wins that the team made progress)
“I believe we made progress. I believe the record doesn’t reflect the way this team played.”

(On the specific areas where he thinks the team progressed)
“We had back-to-back shutouts. We had three straight games we didn’t give up a touchdown. Defense was fourth or fifth in points allowed. Other statistical areas where the defense I thought excelled. First in the NFL, I think, in third-1 and fourth-1. Those kind of things. I think we showed some signs with (RBs) Tre (Mason) and Zac (Stacy) and Benny (Cunningham). I think we got better as a potential rushing team with Tre. (OL) Greg’s (Robinson) going to be much better next year. You look at what we did defensively up front. One thing that continuity allows you to do is that it allows you to sit down and look hard at what you’re doing and get better. I’ve been on staffs where’s there’s continuity where we were able to do that.”

(On if they want to start the season better)
“Yes, of course. It’s not OK to start slow. You’ve got to get off to a fast start.”

(On how much it helps the defense to have some continuity now that Defensive Coordinator Gregg Williams has been with the Rams for a year and that both he and the team know what to expect from one another)
“We should improve significantly, particularly because when Gregg stepped in he wasn’t quite sure about the talent level here. A good example was when we flipped (DT) Aaron (Donald) and he became a three-technique for the most part and ‘Brock’ (DT Michael Brockers) and (DT) Kendall (Langford) were the shade, that’s when things really got going. Even the subtle things we did with ‘Tree’ (LB Alec Ogletree) that allowed him to get going. So, those are things that are going to take place during the offseason with respect to a lot of different positions. We’re going to be creative. We’ll have an offseason to sort out and put (S) Mark (Barron) in positions to be on the field most of the time. You want that, without having to take (S) Rodney (McLeod) or (S) T.J. (McDonald) out.”

(On if finding ways to improve the offense in the third quarter an offseason priority)
“We do a lot of sophisticated studies and scoring by quarters is going to be important. Obviously, we’re pretty good in the opening drives in the first quarter, but we have to look at the entire second half on both sides of the ball. That’s where we’ve had our issues.”

(On what his top priorities are, in terms of positions, for the draft other than quarterback)
“We have some holes to fill. I’m not going to go into detail right now as far as the priorities and prioritize things. That’s competitive.”

(On if he believes the Rams are in a position to potentially move up in the draft this season rather than moving back and accumulating picks as they’ve done in recent years)
“I think those are options for you. Our decision to go ahead and trade for (S) Mark (Barron) was not necessarily only based on Mark’s potential and his ability; it was also based on our feeling as it relates to this year’s draft and the strength of this year’s draft. All of those things are tied together. So, that kind of gives you an idea. We’ll go into draft stuff at a later time.”

(On his confidence in CB Janoris Jenkins)
“Cornerback’s a difficult position to play in the league. He’s not the only cornerback that gave up plays. But to answer your question, yes. I think Janoris can get better. Janoris would be the first to tell you he can get better. He was voted as an alternate to the Pro Bowl.”

(On if he believes teams are more successful finding veteran quarterbacks rather than drafting one)
“Generally speaking, the quarterback play at the college level is different than the quarterback play at our level. So, if you’re going to go out and draft a quarterback, you have to be certain that he can handle the pro-style offense. Or, you go out and do a little bit of what a great job that Seattle has done and do some of the same things that (QB) Russell (Wilson) did and use his legs. If you’re willing to make a wholesale change, then you can go ahead and do that. But, the position is clearly different – there’s no doubt. Quarterbacks, as you know if you watch the (college) game, they’re looking over and they’re getting the call from the sideline and they’re running the play. There’s not a lot of communication on the line of scrimmage, there’s not adjustments, there’s not Mike IDs. There’s not reads, there’s not the things that we ask them to do. I think what you’re asking is yes, if you’re going to go out and look for a quick fix and someone that can win games for you immediately, then that guy’s probably going to come from out of free agency, that’s already done it. Yet there’s still that challenge and that realistic possibility that you go to college and you develop one. You also see that happening. I think a great example is what happened in New England with (QB Jimmy) Garoppolo and then them making the choice to make the trade (with Houston) and keep Jim as (QB) Tom’s (Brady) backup. He learned quickly.”

(On if OL Greg Robinson is set as the team’s left tackle or if T Jake Long’s status could impact Robinson)
“We’re going to wait and see for Jake and see how he’s feeling. He’s been in the building the last couple of days. All indications are that he wants to come back. Yeah, as we stand right now Greg’s going to be our left tackle.”

(On Long’s rehab and the possibility of him playing inside)
“Jake’s a good enough athlete that he could play…I’m not going to go out on a limb and say he could play center, but yeah, he could play guard or play right tackle, I believe.”

(On if he’s confident that WR Brian Quick will be ready for training camp)
“It was a significant injury. He’s in here every day. We’ll have a better idea in a few months.”

(On how CB E.J. Gaines is recovering from his concussion)
“He would play this week. Yeah, he’s good.”

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