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Rams

Jeff Fisher gets contract extension, but lots of questions remain

 Jeff Fisher
Rams Coach Jeff Fisher watches his players warm up before a game against the Patriots at Gillette Stadium on Sunday.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Rams Coach Jeff Fisher said he wasn’t going to put up with that 7-9 B.S.

Suddenly, that B.S. stands for best scenario.

The 4-8 Rams theoretically could finish 8-8, but who thinks they’re going to run the table in the last quarter of the season? And even if they did, just as they surged at the end last season, how much would it matter?

In the final four games, the Rams face a pair of division leaders, Atlanta and Seattle, before the relatively soft landing of home games against San Francisco and Arizona.

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After Sunday’s 26-10 loss at New England, the Rams were guaranteed their 13th consecutive non-winning season.

For Rams fans, the day started with a gut punch, when the awkward news broke that the club had given Fisher a reported two-year contract extension. The franchise gave a similar extension to General Manager Les Snead.

That revelation triggered a Twitter tornado. How could a 4-7 team that’s looking to maintain momentum in Los Angeles have the audacity to extend a coach who in the last four seasons has finished 7-8-1, 7-9, 6-10 and 7-9?

It’s unclear who leaked the information and why now. A conspiracy theorist might point to a coach trying anything and everything to save his hide, but Fisher said Sunday he had no idea who spilled the beans.

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Should the Rams be eyeing hot-handed offensive coaches — and with No. 1 pick Jared Goff, it makes sense they would be — they’re getting an up-close-and-personal refresher. Former Rams assistant Josh McDaniels is offensive coordinator of the Patriots, and Kyle Shanahan is coming to the Coliseum next Sunday with the Falcons.

Fisher revealed in his postgame news conference that in fact his contract was completed months ago, something the Rams had repeatedly denied.

“This was done well before the season started,” he said. “It was done well before we had 90,000 people in the Coliseum for our first preseason game.”

Turns out, the Rams were determined to do this no matter what happened this season. Then they stayed mum, for obvious reasons in the wake of the 28-0 loss to San Francisco in the opener (the 49ers’ only win to date), but also through the three-game winning streak that followed.

The Rams didn’t even announce the extension at Sunday’s game, only sheepishly confirming it as if it were checking off on a bit of injury news.

“It’s out of my hands,” Fisher said when asked why the club didn’t announce the deal when it was done. “I don’t know. We had a lot going on this off-season, lot of stuff going on. It’s not my place to make that announcement.”

Bizarre? You bet your backward baseball cap.

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On a day when Patriots quarterback Tom Brady made NFL history by winning his 201st game, thereby breaking a first-place tie with Peyton Manning, Fisher took another step toward a bit of history himself.

With 164 defeats, Fisher is one loss away from tying Dan Reeves for the most losses in league history, and, if he survives the season and doesn’t finish 4-0, the Rams leader will be the first NFL coach to keep his job after five losing seasons in a row.

Not only that, but legendary running back Eric Dickerson said last week he won’t attend another Rams game as long as Fisher is the coach. Not what the franchise needs as it’s trying to reconnect with its nostalgic roots.

Multiple times after Sunday’s game, Fisher made reference to all the Rams went through during their off-season relocation. The sell-by date on that excuse has long since expired. Yes, such moves are surely trying, but then again, the relocation came with a significant benefit that every other team would love to have — the Rams got to live together in a hotel and bond while sorting through their housing arrangements. It’s too late to point to that as a reason for the season going south.

Just because Fisher has an extension doesn’t mean he’s guaranteed to be the coach for the next two seasons. He could be fired at any time, with Rams owner Stan Kroenke paying off the remainder of a deal that currently pays the coach about $6.5 million per year.

“I truly understand that the wins and losses fall on my shoulders,” Fisher said. “That’s the fact of our business, and I get that. And I’m not looking over my shoulder.”

In that sense, Fisher won Sunday. Yet again, his team did not.

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