Rams likely won't rush into new offensive coordinator hire

EARTH CITY, Mo. -- As of late Wednesday afternoon, there wasn't much to know about the St. Louis Rams' now vacant offensive coordinator position.

We know that Brian Schottenheimer has taken the same position (with added quarterback coach responsibilities) at the University of Georgia. We know the Rams now have an opening. But we don't know who will be next in line to take Schottenheimer's place.

The one thing we do know, however, is that Rams coach Jeff Fisher probably won't rush into any hire unless he decides to hire from within.

"I think there’s always a list," general manager Les Snead said Wednesday. "Jeff’s philosophy is always, ‘Hey, be patient, don’t rush into it.’ But it’s like anything. what’s the pool like? This is all happening. You’ll see the philosophy with Jeff is let’s be patient, let’s go through. I think that’s what you’ll see."

That's what we've seen from Fisher when the defensive coordinator job has popped up in each of the past two offseasons.

In 2013, Fisher fired Blake Williams, the de facto defensive coordinator and linebackers coach, on Jan. 2. From there, Fisher deliberately went through the interview process, spending time with the likes of Dick Jauron and Mike Singletary before he hired then-Detroit Lions defensive backs coach Tim Walton on Feb. 15.

Last year, Fisher appeared to be committed to keeping Walton, but after taking some time to go through his options and, most importantly, repair his relationship with Gregg Williams, he fired Walton on Jan. 29. It was quickly apparent that Gregg Williams would be the new defensive coordinator, but Fisher didn't even make that official for another two weeks.

In this case, Schottenheimer's departure doesn't come at the behest of Fisher. At Fisher's end-of-season news conference, he was asked what he thought of Schottenheimer's performance. To the chagrin of many Rams fans, Fisher offered an enthusiastic endorsement.

"I think Brian is an outstanding playcaller," Fisher said. "He’s very organized. He’s an excellent teacher. You can’t put the record on his shoulders. That’d be very, very unfair.”

That endorsement followed another underwhelming performance from a Rams offense that regularly forced the defense to play almost perfect football just to have a chance. The Rams finished 28th in yards per game, 20th in rushing yards, 23rd in passing yards and 23rd in points per game in 2014.

That effort wasn't much of an upgrade over his previous two seasons in charge. In 2013, the Rams were 30th in yards per game, 19th in rushing yards per game, 27th in passing yards per game and 22nd in points per game. In 2012, the Rams ranked 23rd, 19th, 18th and 28th in those respective categories.

Of course, Schottenheimer had his share of challenges along the way, including the repeated loss of starting quarterback Sam Bradford, several injuries along the offensive line and a big injury this season to receiver Brian Quick. And it's also important to remember that Schottenheimer coached for Fisher, and much of the conservative approach falls in line with what Fisher prefers.

Nonetheless, the Rams offense regularly struggled to find ways to use Tavon Austin in the offense and the team's inability to make adjustments at halftime repeatedly put the Rams behind the eight ball on offense in the final 30 minutes of games.

The Rams offense averaged a feeble 2.6 points in the third quarter of games this season, which ranked 30th in the NFL. They weren't much better in the fourth quarter, either, posting 4.8 points per game in the final 15 minutes, which was tied for 24th in the league.

As for possible replacements, there are many former head coaches with offensive backgrounds who could be appealing. That list includes former Bears coach Marc Trestman, former Browns coach Rob Chudzinski and in-limbo Niners coordinator Greg Roman. If Fisher decides to stay in house, one name to remember is current tight ends coach Rob Boras.

No matter the ultimate decision, Fisher's history would indicate two things: He won't be looking to turn the offense in a drastically different direction and we won't get an answer in the immediate future.