Fisher in no rush to complete his staff

2012-02-16T00:35:00Z 2012-02-16T06:11:04Z Fisher in no rush to complete his staffBY JIM THOMAS • jthomas@post-dispatch.com > 314-340-8197 stltoday.com

And you thought it took a while for the Rams to name their new general manager. It has been four weeks now since Jeff Fisher was officially introduced as Rams head coach, and he has yet to complete his coaching staff.

"I still have several vacancies I'm in the process of interviewing," Fisher said. "As I mentioned to you, I will be rewarded for patience. I'm really excited so far. It's an exhausting process but I hope to have everything done — probably before the end of next week."

Fisher is still looking for a running backs coach and a linebackers coach. Most staffs also have an assistant special teams coach as well as defensive quality control coach. So those could be two additional members depending on Fisher's preferences and his budget for coaching staff hires.

To date, the Rams have announced only the hiring of offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, defensive coordinator Gregg Williams and assistant head coach Dave McGinnis. Fisher says he will announce the rest of the staff en masse once it's completed.

"We'll introduce you to the whole basketful of coaches," Fisher joked.

Is it a big basket?

"It's not especially big, but it's talented," Fisher replied.

Besides the big three of McGinnis, Schottenheimer and Williams, about a dozen others have been added to Fisher's first staff in St. Louis.

When asked if Fisher ever will complete his staff, executive vice president of football operations Kevin Demoff replied in jest: "We're running out of office space ... so he better finish soon."

Actually, if the Rams end up with close to a 20-member coaching staff, that's par for the course these days in the NFL. And in terms of the time it's taking for Fisher to assemble the group, he has said all along that he would take his time.

"You do your research," Fisher said. "You discuss your philosophies. And then you make decisions on what you think is going to be a perfect fit. You'll never hear a coach say anything other than this is the best staff in the NFL. All coaches are going to stay that.

"I'm a little different from the standpoint that I think it's hard to hire the best staff in the NFL over a two- or three-week period. I don't think you do that. I think you take your time."

As an example, Fisher cited the hiring of the late Mike Heimerdinger as his offensive coordinator in Tennessee.

"I hired 'Dinger' at the combine in 2000," Fisher said.

The NFL scouting combine doesn't take place until the end of February, and normally most coaching staffs are complete by then.

But more than Fisher's patient approach has led to the lengthy hiring process. When the offseason started for the Rams, they were the only team in the NFL looking for both a general manager and a head coach at the same time.

For a while, the GM search was all but on hold while the Rams finalized the Fisher hiring and while Fisher got an immediate start on assembling the staff.

Similarly, Fisher had less time to spend on the staff search in late January and early February while the Rams zeroed in on their new general manager. Fisher took part in all the GM interviews leading to the hiring of Les Snead on Saturday.

"There's a sense of relief that we've got a general manager in place, and I'm really excited about that," Fisher said. "Now I can go ahead and just finish up the staff."

Besides Fisher, the staff includes two others with head-coaching experience: McGinnis for 3½ seasons (2000-03) in Arizona, and Williams for three seasons (2001-03) in Buffalo.

The staff is also replete with sons of head coaches, from Brandon Fisher and Blake Williams — sons of the head coach and defensive coordinator, respectively — to John Fassel and Frank Cignetti.

Fassel, the Rams' new special teams coach, is the son of former New York Giants head coach Jim Fassel. Cignetti, the team's quarterback coach, is the son of Frank Cignetti Sr., former head coach at West Virginia and Indiana University-Pennsylvania.

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