The end of the Detroit Lions victory over the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday caused some controversy. At the end of the game, while the Lions were in victory formation, the Rams broke from tradition and rushed the line, causing a skirmish.
Following the game, coach Jeff Fisher spoke out against the actions of his players.
“There’s been some criticism with respect to that,” Fisher said, via Alden Gonzalez, ESPN. “This approach did not come from the sideline. It was not a call. It was not something that we practiced, or that we preach. I think it was a byproduct of frustration, some things that Aaron endured during the game, and the players took it on themselves to do it. We’ll address it. I talked to Coach Caldwell after the game and apologized and said I’d get to the bottom of it. The game’s over, the game’s over. Pay respect to your opponent. But you guys don’t realize all the stuff that goes on inside, up front, between the offensive linemen and the defensive linemen. We’ll address it, and it’s unlikely it’ll happen again.”
After years of coaching, Fisher seems to have the “apology without really apologizing” down.
Yes, physical play did happen in the trenches of Sunday’s game. No doubt, a couple of Rams players certainly felt that they were on the wrong side of a cheap shot or two.
That was also the case with every game that was played on Sunday. Heck, it’s probably been the case in every NFL game played since 1920. Amazingly, though, nearly all other defensive lines manage to refrain themselves from rushing the victory formation. Yet, somehow, Los Angeles couldn’t find a way to do this?
We can take Fisher at his word that it didn’t come directly from him. But like everything else that happens on a football field, what a team does is a reflection of its coach. A coach doesn’t tell quarterbacks to throw interceptions, nor does he tell defensive backs to get beaten on plays. But if those things happen enough, the coach loses far more than he wins and he’s fired. The same basic concept applies here. If the defense was acting on its own, then it’s a sign that the coach doesn’t have great control over his team.
The Rams — particularly their defense — have another elephant in the room named Gregg Williams, the defensive coordinator. Williams was the New Orleans Saints’ defensive coordinator during the BountyGate scandal, for which he was later suspended. He was the Rams’ defensive coordinator in 2015 when the Minnesota Vikings called a hit to Teddy Bridgewater dirty and noted Williams’ past.
A team with Williams on the staff frankly doesn’t get the benefit of the doubt.
Fisher’s apology may seem nice. But when looking at it a little deeper, it rings hollow and insincere. In the end, it’s just another mark against a coach who’s compiled several in his tenure with this team.