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Unknown to many, St. Louis Rams head coach Jeff Fisher has a long history of special teams trickery, per The St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
The Rams’ special teams unit befuddled that of the defending champions Seattle Seahawks — most notably a trick punt return play which St. Louis’ Stedman Bailey ran for a 90-yard touchdown — in the former’s 28-26 win in Week 7 on Oct. 19. Unkown to the casual NFL observer, “Fisher has a long history of special teams deceit,” per The St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Jim Thomas:
“Jeff Fisher doesn’t know where he developed his keen interest in special teams.
“‘The exciting part about special teams is you get to work with both sides of the ball,’ Fisher said. ‘There’s an opportunity for some creativity.’
“Nor does he know where he developed his love for special teams trickery.
“‘I don’t know the origin,’ Fisher said. ‘If you have the reputation that you’re fearless from the standpoint of making those calls, then you’re going to be able to dictate some things. That’s what we try to do, dictate with respect to special teams, particularly your punt team.’
“Fisher reached into his bag of tricks twice Sunday, allowing the Rams to steal a victory from the defending Super Bowl-champion Seattle Seahawks. Without the decoy punt return for a touchdown on the play known as ‘Mountaineer,’ or a daring fake punt for a first down late in the fourth quarter, the Rams don’t defeat Seattle, 28-26.
“It was enough to put a 75-yard kickoff return by Benny Cunningham — the Ram’s longest in four years — into the oh-by-the-way category.
“Stedman Bailey’s 90-yard ‘Mountaineer’ punt return down the left sideline caught the Seahawks with their guard down. They were too busy paying attention to Tavon Austin on the right sideline faking as if he were fielding the punt.
“…Fisher has a long history of special teams deceit. From 1995-2005 as head coach of the Houston Oilers-Tennessee Titans, Fisher had his punters throw 16 passes. Fifteen of those tosses came from Craig Hentrich (Alton-Marquette HS).
“And of course, there was one of the most special teams trick plays in NFL history, the Music City Miracle. It sparked the Titans’ playoff run in 1999 that led all the way to Super Bowl XXXIV against Dick Vermeil’s Rams.
“In a wild-card playoff game with (the) Buffalo (Bills), Frank Wycheck threw a lateral pass to Kevin Dyson after taking a Buffalo kickoff. Dyson raced 75 yards in the closing seconds for a touchdown, giving Tennessee a 22-16 victory.
“When Fisher took the Rams job in 2012, he didn’t leave his special teams trickeration in Nashville. Hekker’s pass to Cunningham was his fifth in 38 games with the Rams. He went three for three for 42 yards as a rookie in 2012, throwing for more yards that year than Tim Tebow.
“Two of those completions came on fake punts in the team’s 24-24 overtime tie in San Francisco. Another came on a fake field goal when Hekker — the holder for place-kicker Greg Zuerlein — stood up after taking a snap and tossed a TD pass to Danny Amendola, who sneaked over toward the Rams’ sideline undetected by Seattle. Yes, the Seahawks were snookered in that game, so shame on Pete Carroll’s teams for getting fooled again Sunday.”
Go inside the locker room and hear Jeff Fisher’s postgame speech.
On Oct. 16, Fisher defended his cornerback Janoris Jenkins, who was burned for two touchdowns by the San Francisco 49ers during their Week 6 matchup. The 49ers trailed by 14 in the first half before regrouping to win on the road, 31-17, per ESPN’s Nick Wagoner:
“St. Louis Rams cornerback Janoris Jenkins’ latest coverage miscue resulting in another long touchdown pass hasn’t changed how he’s viewed by coach Jeff Fisher.
“Two days after Jenkins was beat for a pair of touchdowns in the Rams’ 31-17 loss to the San Francisco 49ers, Fisher offered a vote of confidence for his third-year cornerback.
“Asked whether Jenkins’ boom or bust tendency — the bust showing up most recently on Brandon Lloyd’s 80-yard touchdown past Jenkins just before Monday night’s halftime — makes him a high risk /high reward option, Fisher made it clear he doesn’t see it that way.
“‘I disagree,’ Fisher said. ‘He’s playing corner, it’s the hardest position to play in this league. The great part about him is that he’s got a short memory. He doesn’t let those things bother him. He doesn’t make mistakes on purpose, understands our defense. Like I said he will take responsibility for the play. I think it was more of something that we should have kept him out of. I have no concern with his production and his play at this point.’
“More than a quarter of the way through his third season, Jenkins has been a starter for the Rams since his arrival in St. Louis. In 36 games, he’s offered his share of game-changing plays (his five defensive touchdowns are the most in the NFL at the time) while also surrendering plenty of big plays. Lloyd’s 80-yard touchdown catch was the second consecutive ‘Monday Night Football’ game where Jenkins has allowed a touchdown covering that distance after then Seattle wideout Golden Tate beat him for one last year.
“At other times in his career, Jenkins has been victimized by Atlanta’s Julio Jones, San Francisco’s Anquan Boldin, Dallas’ Dez Bryant and others for big plays. Taking his cues from Fisher, Jenkins points to the ups and downs as part of playing one of the league’s most difficult positions.
“‘They make plays and we make plays,’ Jenkins said. ‘You’ve just got to put it behind you because everybody is going to make a play. It’s just when the play is going to be made and how it’s going to be made.'”
Fisher has amassed an overall 151-148 (.528) win-loss record in in 20 NFL seasons with the Houston Oilers, Tennessee Titans and St. Louis Rams, per Pro-Football-Reference.com.