(Reuters) - The struggling Los Angeles Rams have fired head coach Jeff Fisher after losing eight of their last nine games in what has become a disappointing homecoming season, the National Football League team said on Monday.
Fisher was under contract through 2018 after signing an extension prior to the current season but with the franchise headed to a fifth straight losing campaign under his leadership the team decided a change was needed.
"This was solely based on performance," Kevin Demoff, Rams executive vice president of football operations, told a news conference. "Today was the best chance to move forward and finish the season with some direction and hope.
"It's unfortunate for him today because this is an organizational failure ... this is just not about the head coach and coaching staff. We have to improve across the board."
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Special teams coordinator John Fassel, son of former New York Giants head coach Jim Fassel, will serve as interim head coach and will have little time to settle into the role as the Rams play the Seattle Seahawks on Thursday.
Fassel joined the Rams in 2012 after spending the prior three years in the same capacity with the Oakland Raiders.
The spiraling Rams, who returned to Los Angeles this year after spending the previous 21 campaigns in St. Louis, are coming off Sunday's 41-14 home loss to an Atlanta Falcons team that were missing their top two receivers.
The loss was the fourth consecutive defeat for a Rams team that dropped to 4-9 on the season with three games remaining.
Fisher was hired as head coach of the Rams in 2012 and has amassed a record of 31-45-1 in nearly five seasons and has guaranteed the franchise their 10th consecutive losing season.
The Rams credited Fisher with playing an "integral role" in returning the NFL to Los Angeles but said the team's performance has not lived up to the franchise's expectations.
"We all are focused on improving as an organization and building a team that makes Los Angeles proud," Rams owner Stan Kroenke said in a statement. "Our mission is to celebrate a Super Bowl title with our fans in Los Angeles. Today is the first step to bringing us closer to that goal."
(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Steve Keating)