John Fassel

NFC Coaching Notes: Panthers, Rams, Redskins, Lions

The Panthers have officially named Steve Wilks as their new defensive coordinator. Following the loss of former defensive coordinator Sean McDermott earlier this week, it was reported that the team was planning on promoting their assistant head coach/secondary coach to the open position. Wilks joined the Panthers organization in 2012.

The new defensive coordinator held a press conference earlier today, where he revealed that he’d be retaining his entire defensive coaching staff (via Joe Person of The Charlotte Observer on Twitter). The team still needs to hire a secondary coach following the promotion of Wilks.

Let’s take a look at some more coaching notes from the NFC…

  • The Rams are expected to keep special teams coach John Fassel, reports Vincent Bonsignore of the Los Angeles Daily News (via Twitter). Fassel has been with the organization since 2012, and he served as the Rams’ interim head coach following the firing of Jeff Fisher.
  • The Redskins may have lost offensive coordinator Sean McVay, but they’re not planning on losing anyone else on their offensive staff. The Redskins are expected to retain all of their offensive assistant coaches, reports ESPN.com’s John Keim. Following the Ramshiring of Wade Phillips as their defensive coordinator, there were rumors that tight ends coach Wes Phillips may leave to join McVay and his dad in Los Angeles. However, Keim notes that the Rams would have to request an interview with anyone on the Redskins coaching staff.
  • The decision to retain head coach Jim Caldwell was made before the Lions clinched a playoff berth, general manager Bob Quinn told Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. “I really believe in his approach to managing the team, how he practices the team, how he maintains the health of the team,” Quinn said. “So, listen, winning nine games is good. It’s not good enough. But I felt really comfortable with the way things went this year. I’m looking forward to 2017 with Jim.”
  • The Eagles are interested in interviewing Rams passing game coordinator/wide receivers coach Mike Groh for their wide receivers coach vacancy, reports ESPN.com’s Adam Caplan (via Twitter). The former quarterback coached the Bears wideouts for three seasons before joining the Rams last year.

Rams To Interview John Fassel On Monday

The Rams will interview interim head coach John Fassel on Monday, according to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. Fassel was named Los Angeles’ interim coach following last month’s firing of Jeff Fisher.John Fassel (Vertical)

[RELATED: Rams DC Gregg Williams Willing To Stay]

Fassel, 42, has been an NFL coach since 2005, working with special teams units during that entire period. Before joining the Rams in 2012, Fassel worked on both the Ravens and Raiders staffs in a special teams capacity. The son of former NFL head coach Jim Fassel, John has posted an 0-3 record as Los Angeles’ interim coach. Given that the Rams are thought to be targeting high-profile candidates such as Jon Gruden, Josh McDaniels, and others, it’s entirely possible that Fassel’s meeting on Monday will only be a pro forma interview.

The Rams may also express interest in Bills interim head coach Anthony Lynn, per Florio. However, Lynn is widely expected to take the Buffalo job on a full-time basis, meaning Los Angeles will have to look elsewhere.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

10 Coaching Candidates For The Rams

In an iconic scene from season nine of The SimpsonsKrusty the Klown announced his retirement to a scrum of not-so-stunned reporters. Krusty The Clown

But Krusty,” one reporter asks. “Why now? Why not twenty years ago?

It wouldn’t have been out of place for any Rams beat reporter to channel that sentiment and ask a similar question of COO Kevin Demoff when he addressed the media on Monday. Jeff Fisher‘s dismissal was long overdue and you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone outside of the coach’s family who disagrees.

For now, the Rams will turn things over to special teams coordinator John Fassel on an interim basis. While this is ostensibly a chance for Fassel to impress team brass and land the head coaching job for 2017, most are expecting the Rams to hire a name brand coach that will energize the fan base and give the team some additional panache in free agency.

With a few weeks to go between now and the official end of the Rams’ season, here are ten names that could be considered for the job:

Jim Harbaugh (vertical)Jim Harbaugh, head coach at the University of Michigan: Some say that living well is the best revenge. Others say that the best revenge against your former employer is setting up shop across the street and destroying them. Santa Clara-to-Los Angeles is a lengthy drive, but you get what we’re getting at.

Harbaugh, in theory, could leave his alma mater and crush the 49ers by joining up with a divisional rival. The Rams have reportedly been loafing in practice and Harbaugh is the kind of throwback disciplinarian that the team badly needs. It’s fair to assume that the Rams will get in contact with Harbaugh, but it will be tough to get him to leave his lucrative job in Ann Arbor.

With National Signing Day around the corner, Harbaugh could publicly remove himself himself from consideration if he is not at all interested in an NFL return. Alternatively, if Harbaugh wants to get sweet revenge against the Niners, Stan Kroenke better have his checkbook ready. Signing Harbaugh could cost upwards of $10MM/year and that’s before factoring in his buyout clause with the Wolverines. If Harbaugh bolts, he’ll owe U-M the prorated portion of his $2MM signing bonus. With two of the seven years served, 5/7ths of that amount comes out to roughly $1.43MM.

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Rams Fire Jeff Fisher

The Rams have fired head coach Jeff Fisher, according to a team announcement. Special teams coordinator John Fassel serve as interim head coach, NFL reporter Rand Getlin tweets. Jeff Fisher (vertical)

On Sunday, the Rams were crushed by the Falcons as Fisher tied for the most losses of any NFL head coach in league history. He is now deadlocked with Dan Reeves with 165 career losses. Reeves, meanwhile, has 190 career wins while Fisher has only 173. In his 22 years of coaching, Fisher has made the playoffs only six times.

Making a decision such as this – especially during the season – is one of the most difficult in sports,” said Rams owner Stan Kroenke said in a statement. “I have great respect for Jeff as a coach, person, father and friend. He has worked tirelessly despite some challenging circumstances. He played an integral role in helping this team make history in returning the NFL to Los Angeles, and we always will be grateful for his commitment and dedication to our organization. However, this is the right time to make a change as our performance has not lived up to my or our fans’ expectations. We all are focused on improving as an organization and building a team that makes Los Angeles proud. Our mission is to celebrate a Super Bowl title with our fans in Los Angeles. Today is the first step to bringing us closer to that goal.”

Just over one week ago, the Rams formally announced an extension for Fisher to take him through 2017 with an option for 2018. The newly-minted deal may provide Fisher some form of a severance package now that he has been let go.

This, of course, is a lost season for the Rams and a bad start for the franchise in their brand new market. The Rams were not a popular playoff pick given their question marks at the quarterback position, but few expected them to struggle this badly. Someday, Jared Goff may prove to be a top quarterback, but he sat for the first half of the season and he has looked green ever since taking over the starting job.

It’s not immediately clear what Fisher’s dismissal will mean for GM Les Snead. As of this writing, Snead still has his job, so he may be given an opportunity to turn things around this spring. Rams COO Kevin Demoff will address the media later today.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.