The Rams prevailed in a high stakes head-to-head competition with the Dolphins and landed Jeff Fisher for their vacant head coaching job. The team said it was finalizing a deal to hire the veteran coach who sat out the 2011 season after 17 years in Tennessee.
Fisher, 53, who is widely considered the top prize in this winter’s coaching-search sweepstakes, interviewed twice with the Rams, once in Denver with owner Stan Kroenke and again in St. Louis when he toured facilities and met with quarterback Sam Bradford.
St. Louis’ offer may have trumped Miami’s for several reasons. Bradford was the No. 1 overall pick in 2010 and is considered a franchise-type player despite an injury-plagued, unproductive 2011.
The Rams have the No. 2 overall pick in this year’s draft and a good salary-cap situation.
The Rams also might offer more power because they are replacing both coach Steve Spagnuolo and general manager Billy Devaney, while Miami has GM Jeff Ireland in place.
Miami still searching
Rejected by Fisher, the Dolphins plan to interview several more candidates before hiring a coach, owner Stephen Ross said. The only other candidate they have interviewed with NFL head coaching experience is Todd Bowles, thanks to his role as their interim coach for the final three games this season. Miami has also interviewed Packers offensive coordinator Joe Philbin, Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer, and Bears special teams coordinator Dave Toub. The search now will expand and may include coaches still in the playoffs . . . According to reports, the Buccaneers received permission to interview Panthers offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski for their vacant head coaching position . . . Texans defensive coordinator Wade Phillips has withdrawn from consideration for the Tampa Bay job . . . The Titans agreed to a four-year deal to keep tight end Craig Stevens.
Grieving in Green Bay
The Packers spent all week preparing for tomorrow’s playoff game against the Giants while trying to support Philbin, whose 21-year-old son, Michael T. Philbin, vanished Sunday and was found in a river in Oshkosh, Wis., the next day. Initial autopsy results indicate he drowned. With Philbin away from the team, the Packers’ other offensive assistants divided his responsibilities . . . Hundreds of people showed up to shovel snow at Lambeau Field ahead of tomorrow’s game. It takes about four hours to clear snow from the stadium bowl and fans were paid $10 per hour . . . The Texans will try to contain Ray Rice, a double-threat who ran for 1,364 yards and had a team-leading 76 catches for 704 yards for the Ravens in tomorrow’s other playoff game.
Ryan defends Sanchez
Jets coach Rex Ryan says embattled quarterback Mark Sanchez has the support of the organization, and he vows to clean up a team that was in turmoil late in the season. With some teammates and members of the organization anonymously questioning Sanchez’s work ethic and leadership abilities in a Daily News story last week, Ryan came to his quarterback’s defense. Ryan is also disappointed by players anonymously criticizing Sanchez. “Saying things and not putting your name on it? That’s not being a Jet,’’ he said. “That’s going to change.’’