Editor's Note: This transcript was automatically transcribed, so mistakes are inevitable. You can contribute by proofreading the transcript or highlighting the mistakes. Sign up to be amongst the first contributors.
Hey, everyone, before starting today's show, I just want to let you know that you can watch this show and all of our other podcasts on our YouTube channel at YouTube, Dotcom Fantasy Pros. We have our podcast. We have live streams. We have other quick hitting content to make sure that you are prepared for your fantasy football season.
Make sure to give us a like and subscribe to support the show. And you can also click on the bell to receive notifications for future videos.
Also, just a reminder that you can find and follow us on Instagram at Phantasy Prose. We're dropping new posts every single day to make sure that you are prepared for your draft and to help you win your league in season. Again, just as a reminder, you can find and follow us on Instagram at Phantasy Prose. Now on to our interview with Jeff Fisher.
Welcome into the Fantasy Football podcast, we are honored to be joined today by Jeff Fisher, former head coach of the Houston Oilers, Tennessee Titans and St. Louis Rams.
Over 20 years of head coaching experience in the NFL. And we're extremely excited to be able to chat with him today. Jeff, welcome into the Fantasy Pros football podcast.
Hey, Kyle Tagg's, it's really nice to join you guys. I'm really excited about what's ahead. And and as we go through this process, man, I'm really looking forward to learn a whole bunch about what you guys do. So thanks for having me.
Absolutely. We are very, very excited. We've got some questions for you, Coach. But first, I just want to talk about this baseball commercial that you did with Fanjul. And I cracked up watching it. I don't know about UTX. I was laughing. Obviously, you're a football guy through and through. But Jeff, I think you might have a future career in acting if you want to go.
Well, that's funny. I was I was at my cabin in Montana last week or so ago, and I walked in the kitchen. I was prepping the meal or something, looking out the window like, you know, in the movies, theater, walking by. I hear my voice coming from the other room. And I walked back in the other room, the TV on, and there's the commercial first time I saw. So, yeah, it's been pretty cool.
It was. I mean, from Outdoor Channel to NHL to live to you name it, it's been out there and I've had a, you know, a lot of friends in the business outside the business call them. And that was really cool. So here's what happened with that about six weeks ago. I got a text on a Friday. Hey, you want to. And I'm like, OK, well, I had three questions. Yeah, I'll do I'm happy to look at a commercial.
What are you guys who's doing it and and where is it and is it safe and how much they pay. And so yeah. But on Tuesday I ended up in Chicago and it was a great experience in particular is one of behind the scenes things guys. And this crew was so professional, you know, everybody that helped with the shoot and everything and they were so happy to be back to work under unusual circumstances. So, yeah, we had a lot of fun.
So, you know, there's plié, there's a cat. There's all kinds of things coming. Don't ask me about my pie. A recipe, because I have to put you on a list and you'll go way down on the bottom. But, yeah, it was a lot of fun, great people to work with and so far so good. I got in a lot of positive feedback.
Well, good. Yeah. Like I said, you've got a future career in acting if you want to go forward and apparently you've got nothing but good reviews. So that's a solid foundation to jump off of. Well, Jeff, obviously this is one of the weirdest off seasons that we've ever experienced. Right. And there's a ton of unknowns as we head into the NFL season. I'm extremely excited to get to chat with you and lean on your experience.
Right. We were talking before we started recording that your experience is one of the things that we can lean into here for us. We can dive into next gen stats and we can look at all these different metrics is fantasy football analyst. But we're not the ones who understand how to install on offense, how to determine who gets the targets that carries, you know, so I'm really excited to get to chat with you and lean on your experience here.
Tagg's, I know that you're really excited for this to you want to you want to ask the first question here for Jeff.
Yeah, absolutely. Jeff, thanks for joining us again. We definitely appreciate it. And, you know, getting to go inside your head as a former head coach, we could obviously I can benefit from this as an analyst. And I know that our listeners are going to benefit from the questions that we've come up with for today. And the first one I think that a lot of people have is, you know, these players with the new teams, they're obviously moving like Brandin Cooks has gone from team to team to team to team.
And this off season more than ever, how difficult is it for a player to come into a new situation and make an impact in year one? And does this offseason affect their ability to to make that difference that they typically would?
Thirty seconds ago, you guys talk about the difficulty and the unknowns that are they exist as you move into a new season. Under normal circumstances, there's a lot of unknowns. And and, you know, you're going to wait for a preseason game or two or three or maybe, you know, the fourth preseason game to see whether or not this brandin cooks, if you will, for example, is fitting into that offense. So under normal circumstances, there are unknowns under these circumstances.
There's a lot of stuff out there that that even between now and the start of the season that's going to take place. It's just all about uncertainty. So there's nothing this is different. You know, I coach two franchises in five different cities and six different stadiums move to franchises. So I know a little bit about distractions. This is the biggest distraction in NFL history. And I don't mean to downplay the significance or the importance of covid, but it is as it relates to sports, it is a huge game changer.
So with that in mind, I think if we understand that, at least we'll have a better idea of. Maybe even even with that dovetails even to how we how we build our roster or who we stay away from because of the unknowns. And so to your question, Brandin Cooks, that type of player that's moved around, change rosters. Keep this in mind. Under normal circumstances, you have an offseason program that starts after free agency starts. But for all intents and purposes, the player the changes address, he's already signed the deal.
He's already well before the offseason program starts. He gets into the building in the middle of April and he has April, May and half of June. And what she's learned her system twice. And then he comes back to training camp and he learns the system for the third time via installation. And, you know, so you've got you have three different opportunity to install an offense. So, you know, those are normal circumstances.
These circumstances are different. I mean, you when they when these players were getting signed, when when players are moving around, change and address the unrestricted free agents and those players that maybe a favorite player of yours or and you're saying, OK, what's he going to do? I wonder how he's going to do this. And there was no criteria factor with respect to how the player learns on Zoome. You know, players learn on the field, they learn on the board, they learn in the classroom, but we don't know.
So there's a lot of unknowns. So I from a from a general standpoint, you have to take each position like you did in the past.
And if you can if you guys can statistically go back and look and see how productive running backs were when they changed addresses in the next year with a new team, if they're productive, then they got a chance to be productive. So, you know, but keep in mind that that same running back, he's not had any live carries and the ball may come out in the open or on the first series. So, so many different factors. So, you know, with that is kind of a general statement that there's just a lot of unknowns.
And so with that being said, we can kind of dive in the different positions if you want to.
Yeah, no, it really for me, it comes down to like I would think that the running back position would probably be one of the easier ones to walk into, obviously. But when it comes to quarterbacks, wide receivers, tight ends, tight ends, especially, there's everyone knows that there's a learning curve for tight ends. And that's why you typically don't see them break out until year three, year four of their career, whereas wide receivers is that, you know, the connection to those guys like Philip Rivers transitioning over to Indianapolis, Tom Brady going over to Tampa Bay, is that important in terms of chemistry between those players where, you know, are we going to have to worry about the chemistry between Ty Hilton and Philip Rivers on the field?
Because they haven't had they haven't played in any games together? No, you're not.
They've had practice time. But here's a difference between Phillip and T.Y. and maybe somebody else and a new receiver. Is that is that the relationship, Phillip's relationship with with coach front with right now? I'm sure they spent time together in San Diego. The systems, the systems, the system, they know they're on the same page. It probably took them a week to go through the playbook. And and Phillip has it. So now now T.Y. not only being coached by his receiver, coached by the head coach, he's also being coached by a quarterback that knows the system.
So by the time you get the season, no, there's no there's no problems there. But does that situation exist in other places? So, you know, you have to you have to look into those things. And and another thing, I mean, you talk about receivers. I don't know. You guys helped me. When was the last time a first round wide receiver, a first round pick went to the Pro Bowl as a rookie? It doesn't happen.
And that's the thing that, you know, if you're going to play this game, the listeners need to understand is, you know it. And we've had this this adage that we you know, we carried along with us for a long time. The further away from the ball you are, the harder it is to play. OK, now now, the harder it is meaning at the receiver position, it's going to take some time.
There is adjustment levels all over the place and week after week after week and different coverages and new things and all these things. So it's tough out there for a young receiver to be productive. Now, there's always there's always, you know, you know, examples and were on occasions. Sometimes that'll happen. But I really think, you know, you look at receivers, you got to be careful, especially with young guys. If it's a veteran guy, that's change and address a couple of times that he's been productive, he's going to be productive as long as you've got an offensive line.
Well, because obviously you've got to run the football to throw it. So a lot lot of different factors. The tight end position that you brought up really, really intrigues me because. From a fantasy standpoint, because the tight ends, he's got dual responsibility. He's got three responsibilities. He's going to be very, very responsible in the run game. So he's got to learn that, OK. And then, of course, of course, what's he doing in the post game?
And then also in the past, and not only his receiver, he's going to be involved in protection. So young Titans take a while to come on the scene. And so you're you're almost if you're going to pick a tight end, you're better. Obviously, everybody would pick Kittle. But, you know, that's I think the veteran guy is the guy you have to lean with. And again, you know, when you talk about skill positions on offense, you're going to make your money from more so from veterans than you are from younger guys.
Jeff, I want to I want to continue the conversation. I want to talk about coaches and specific matchups. Right. And we were talking about this beforehand that we could probably talk about this for. Oh, man. Thirty three hours. Right. And to three hours like this could just be an incredibly long conversation. But do coaches look at player specific matchups and look to shut them down or do they rely specifically on their scheme and hope it works?
So like, for example, George Kittle, the tight end for the San Francisco 49ers going against the Cardinals in week one, they were destroyed by tight ends all last year. And Kittles really the only option that they have in the passing game. Can can a team really game plan to shut down that one player or do they rely specifically on their scheme?
Well, again, yeah, you can you can game plan and you can shut down, for most part, a wide receiver provided that he's lined up outside and wide. If that receiver, for example, ends up being he's a versatile guy, that will not only line up outside, but inside on third down, that it becomes a primary target on early downs and that becomes the inside type of slot receiver. Third down, keep the change roll and type of guy.
That guy is harder to shut down now. Defenses are equipped. No defenses are smart. I mean, you can you can call your defense as simple as a we'll call it cover one and it's one call number eighty five. And so and they'll call that coverage and that means everybody else is man to man and whoever's on eighty five gets help from the safety. So you can, you can try to do those things. But it is really difficult at the tight end position, much easier outside that is it.
The tight end position going to play left and right is going to move, is going to go in motion, is going to line up in the backfield. And that's that's primarily the reason you see guys move around like that, is to create matchups or avoid matchups. So the tight end position is a hard one to to stop in the passing game. OK, because you got run action pass, you've got dropped back, you got third down. So it's difficult.
So I don't know if I answered that question. Can the can the Arizona Cardinals. Yeah. With a whole offseason, if they if they you know, they've got they think they have a foolproof plan to stop Kittle in the opener. I think they could affect that. But guess what? Give the 49ers credit. They're going to go someplace else. They know where the weakness of the defenses. So, you know, I remember you all know Tony Gonzalez and what he did to defense is for his great career.
We're getting ready to play the Chiefs in Nashville. And our whole defensive game plan was where is Tony Gonzales? Where's 88? And we've got to do this. And we didn't sleep during the week. For some reason, their offensive game plan was so concerned about our pressures that they kept Tony in to block the whole game, you know, so, you know, there's things about adjusting and things. But to get back to the earlier question, it's going to be difficult to stop a player like like George.
It just is hard. And if you're you're tired coverage to Kittel, well, you're going to have to make some amazing adjustments in the run front. So, you know, different things happen. So, you know, one thing affects the other is, you know, there's a cause and effect to everything you do on on the field with respect to try to create match ups.
Yeah, no, I love the way he answered that. And that was always my concern with tight ends is people are like, hey, are you worried about Kittel this year? Because 49ers, they just don't have a whole lot of options at wide receiver in the ones that they do have. They're starting to go down with injuries. And my response was always, I think it's more it's harder to shut down a tight end than it is a wide receiver, because those guys are kept in a block, you know, roughly half the time.
And Kittle is one of the best blocking tight ends in the game. So I definitely like that answer. With that being said, what is one of what is the biggest thing that you would say fantasy football analysts miss when they're projecting games? Because we obviously we look at all these stats, we look at all these these numbers and we're trying to find trends and things. What is the biggest thing that you would say we missed throughout the week?
Well, I just think there's so much going on. So much information that that does not get out from the practice field, from the preparation days. You've got two teams that are preparing for one another. So you've got you've got if you're going to you've got a player, a one on one club and you're looking at and you're doing trying to do all find out all the little things that are going on during the week. There's things going on with the other team as well.
So there's just so much information you don't have.
You don't have access to the stuff that goes on the practice field. Well, what how many reps did he get? Is he healthy? What kind of week did the quarterback have? What was the weather factors?
Did they get to full speed practices in a short week, as of a long week? How do these guys bounce back off or off a win off a loss? All those things, you know, you can get information about and find statistics. But, man, what goes on in the practice field, especially concerned most of those practices are closed. That's that's hard information to obtain. So you you know, you're rolling the dice a little bit on on statistics.
But again, the more information that you have, the more you know, the more similarities that you can draw from, the better off you are. Jeff, I wanted to double back.
We were talking about Philip Rivers and Ty Hilton earlier. Right. And so this quarterback and wide receiver connection and obviously the familiarity with the scheme is going to help. But from our perspective, we're sitting down and we're trying to project the entire season. Right. Which is a futile experiment. But who has more of an impact and who gets thrown the ball? Is it the coach or is it the quarterback? Does the level of experience that a quarterback has to factor into that?
So if you have a rookie quarterback versus someone like Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady, does that also play play a role in it?
There's just not a simple answer to that question. It's a great question. We'll go back to we'll go back to Phillip and T.Y. right now to why sit in the receiver room? And he's the leader of those receivers. OK, he's been there, done that. He and Phillip are best friends already. I guarantee you, they're working together. They're doing so. OK, so now now Phillip and T.Y. aren't enough. Phillip, I guess it's different circumstances, but most quarterbacks are not involved in the actual game plan and stuff.
Young quarterbacks, coaches, do the game plan, create the matchups and put the routes and change the routes based on what they did last week or compliment them to the running game, et cetera. OK, but you've got you've got in this situation, you've got a veteran receiver, a veteran quarterback, and they know they know that a lot of these circumstances that he's the guy that their opponents are going to try to stop. So what they're doing, they're going to create they may use him in motion or line them up here to create a mismatch in their favor with another offensive skilled player.
So, you know, but to get your point, the ball's coming out of the quarterback's hands. The quarterback, veteran quarterbacks are making their read. They're going through their progression. So once, you know, once the bullets start flying again, it's the quarterback that's getting the ball to the receivers. All this stuff during the week, you know, all the game plan and all the practice reps and everything. Yeah, it's all coaching. But, you know, and on Sunday, not now Sunday on a critical third and three or third and four to keep the drive alive to win the game, a must stop third down.
They've got their go to call. And odds are pretty good that film's going to look for T.Y. because he trusts or that plays in there because T.Y. has experience the wealth of experience over time. He he can adjust. You know, if the defense builds a wall inside, he's got to redirect and come back outside. Philip Trust. He's done there, been there and done that. And bang, it's a first down. So but to answer your question, again, I'm long winded answers, but yeah, the quarterback's delivering the ball.
But so much of it during the week has to do with the coaching and the quarterback. Yeah.
And that's I mean, I want to I want to build on that one because I it goes back to a conversation I was having on Twitter yesterday with someone named Hines is the third down back out there in Indianapolis. You go back to last season, he played just twenty one snaps per game. Obviously, that was just with Marlon Mack on the team. They drafted Jonathan Taylor in the second round. And a lot of people are expecting, you know, just because Philip Rivers has targeted running backs over the course of his career with, you know, Darren Sproles, Danny Woodhead, Austin Ekeler these are fantastic receiving backs that he's had.
So we're trying to project. Does that happen with nightime Hines just because Philip Rivers is who he is? Or is it a matter of the talent that he had on the roster?
Well, the answer to that question is, under normal circumstances, you would get a sense maybe in the preseason, right?
How many third down snaps or two minute snaps he's going to get because your two minute snaps in your third. Out snaps are basically the same at the running back position right there, the same responsibilities you got protection. You're either a hot your dog or, you know, the boss is on the route or the place decide to get the ball to create the mismatch so we don't have a preseason to see that. So if you go back to last season, how many of those snaps were third down snaps?
If he's if he's a backup coming off the bench on first and second down, but he's off the field on third down now, doesn't mean to say things won't change over an offseason with a new quarterback. But, you know, it's taken this running back time to understand the concepts. And it's not an easy concept. I mean, you know, people think runback comes and all I do is I have someone either hand off the brown thing to you or throw it to you and you go, but no, it's not that easy.
It takes back time now in four on first and second down. Yeah. You're running the ball downhill or you're you're involved in play action and you need to get to worry the spot you need to get to on the field and in the play action pass concept. That's one thing. But boy, when you have to scan and you're responsible for one of those blockers and they change numbers or DB falls in that position or line stems or people moving around and stuff, you need to know who you got protection, because if you don't, if you make a mistake, the quarterback gets hit, you got problems.
So, you know, it's that, you know, again, we don't have the the reps, the snaps because we don't have a preseason. So go back and see if the kid was on the field on third down last year, then odds are he's probably got a pretty good understanding of the offense, which means he's got a football right. He can learn stuff quick and he should be on the field on third down this year.
Yep, I love that. And so. Yeah, no, absolutely. All right. So I want to close it out with this question and this one is so important to me is someone that goes through every single game, every week, talks about every player. And I find it's easy to see the weaknesses on teams like for instance, I'm going to the week one matchups right now. Carolina last year allowed, you know, running backs, five point three, two yards per carry.
They allowed a rushing touchdown every fourteen carries like there was nobody even close in the league that was as bad as them against the run. Do NFL coaches sometimes overlook these things or, you know, it's all it's the idea of the art of war where you go in and you attack the biggest weakness on that team. Do NFL coaches actually go in and look at those things and say, hey, if you break down and look at every single week, eighty percent of the time, this is who's doing the damage against them.
We need to find a way to exploit that weakness on their defense to NFL coaches actually do that? Or is it more like, hey, we're going to execute our scheme the best that we can and we're going to hope that it's better than them?
Well, combination used to answer the question. I mean, first off, do we have a new defensive coordinator in Carolina? Yes. OK, we've got a new head coach, new offensive coordinator. Similar, but but new head coach. New defensive coordinator. OK, so, yeah, things are completely changing. So is it possible the question you're asking for, is it possible in the NFL to go from, you know, the bottom five and run defense to the top five and run defense over an off season?
Yes, either with one coaching changes or two scheme changes that the coaching staff, it was no change. They made the judgments. I got a couple a couple of different players in there and they made some changes because all they do is study all offseason. Yeah, they can they can change. The key here is, you know, that's what makes this year so exciting, is that because of the uncertainty, because of the distraction we referred to earlier on, you don't know really don't know what to expect.
The only thing that I think we can hang our hats on are the those offenses, the New Orleans Saints offense, for example. OK, how much change have they gone through? Not much. Right. And we all know Drew's a Hall of Famer. We all know what they got the running back. We all know Michael Thomas can do it all.
They're going to be good. They didn't have to learn a new offense. They fine tuned, OK, versus where there's a new head coach and change or coordinator change or Cincinnati with the with the young promising rookie quarterback. You don't know where they are. So to me, I would lean with those established programs and the established players now outside at the quarterback spot, you can roll the dice a little bit. You expect good players to to be able to make big plays.
And, you know, guys are changing addresses. I'm a former player that I had with that we drafted with the Rams, janoris Jenkins, OK, New York, obviously that thing didn't work out. Is Dallas reside again in New Orleans? Guess what? James is going to be a really good corner down there in that system. He's in his second year. He's got the it's very. He's going to line up and he's going to play is going to play well, so, you know, those are the things that you, you know, you have to look at.
But those sist those systems that are in place that have been productive in the past because this is an unusual year, those are the areas that you're going to have, I think, safe, safe places to go. And then within those safe places, which guy is going to have that that breakout year or come back and repeat what he did last year?
Jeff, you you talked about that that week against Tony Gonzales and like, not sleep in that week. Right. Really quick. And this is just for my benefit. And then we'll get you out of here. Who was the best quarterback that you ever went up against that you ever coached against?
Well, that you know, I can't tell you who the best one was. I can tell you that we I was fortunate over my career to face some amazing talent from Joe Montana to Phil Simms.
I mean, the list goes on and on and on all the way to currently, I mean, our battles against the Colts with Peyton and the battles we had with Brady and, you know, Philip Rivers, I, I this pains me to say this, but I want a lot of games in the National Football League.
And and I coached for a long, long time. I think I had maybe four match ups against Phillip as the head coach because they weren't in the division. Never beat the Chargers. Sean Sean also interception in San Diego in two months, going in the end zone. And we lost we had a controversial play at the end in Nashville against the Chargers and we lost. I couldn't beat it. But so I have a great, great deal respect for Phillip personally, professionally.
But, you know, I'd have to say, because of my own personal experiences, the match ups with Peyton twice a year were phenomenal. And, you know, just for the listeners, you know, we lost the line coach. The National Football League lost the best offensive line coach, I think one of the tops of all time in the game. And Howard Mudd, Howard Mudd had so much to do with that offense. And Peyton's success and and that offense had so much to do with offenses around the country at every level with the hurry up.
And what Peyton did and, you know, we had we had to change. We'd have to put wristbands on our defense and change them every quarter. And and now you have another dynamic that you know, that that's going to go on out there with no fans. And I don't know if you guys have heard quarterbacks talk about it, but, you know, quarterback gets up and they got codenames for EastWest E left west is right. Makes sense.
OK, you know, they have coach codenames for left and right and they may have one may have to they're going to have five or six now because the defense is smart. They're going to hear what you're talking about.
The defense can actually hear him this time. Right.
I'm sorry. So it's a different it's a different world right now. And and so it's really interesting. It's going to be interesting to see how this thing goes down. But when the dust all clears and settles, OK, if you have an experienced, talented returning offensive line and you got a quarterback to understand it's been there and done that, you got a chance to win games early. Yeah, more so than anybody else. Yeah. This was awesome.
Jeff, thank you so much for sharing your experience and answering our questions. We really, really appreciate it. Don't forget to head over guys to those who were listening. Don't forget to head over to YouTube and check out his fan duel commercial. It is fantastic. So, Jeff, thanks so much for taking some time out and chat.
Always a pleasure. Let's talk again soon. We need to regroup after week three or four, see if anything we said today was accurate.
Oh, no. To do any time. Like I see you guys. Thank you very much. Absolutely. For Jeff Fisher and Mike Tagliani, I'm Kyle Yates and we'll see you next time.
I just wanted you to watch Just Slide.