Three Things to Know About Interim HC John Fassel

Posted Dec 12, 2016

The Rams have named special teams coordinator John Fassel their interim head coach. Here are a few facts to help you get to know him.

The Rams have made a change at the top, with special teams coordinator John Fassel taking over as Los Angeles’ interim head coach for the remainder of the 2016 season.

Here are a few things to know about the Rams’ interim head coach.

1) He’s earned a reputation as one of the top special teams coordinators

Nicknamed “Bones,” Fassel has led the Rams’ special teams since 2012, building one of the top units in the league.

Just this year, Fassel has coached punter Johnny Hekker to tying a record with 46 punts inside the 20-yard line. Hekker currently leads the league with 78 punts, which means 59 percent of Hekker’s punts end up inside the 20. He’s also had only one touchback this season.

Additionally, running back Benny Cunningham is currently No. 2 averaging 27.2 yards per kick return. That Cunningham has finished in the top five in kick return average over the last three seasons is a testament to not just the returner himself, but how well prepared the blockers around him have been.

2) Fassel is a fan of fakes

The Rams have run a number of fakes in the last five years, particularly with Hekker. Since 2012, Hekker has completed six of 10 passes for 99 yards — good for a passer rating of 126.7.

But perhaps the most famous fake Fassel’s run came in 2014 to help beat the Seahawks. Nicknamed “Mountaineer” for the college of the players involved, wide receiver Tavon Austin acted like he was going to catch a punt deep in Rams territory. But in reality, wideout Stedman Bailey fielded the punt and went 90 yards for a touchdown.

“It’s a bit of a perfect storm with the ball at the right spot on the field, and the right kick, and everybody executing exactly what they’re supposed to do,” Fassel said at the time. “All the stars aligned on that, and it was fun to see it work.”

3) He recently rescued a swimmer in the ocean

Fassel is an avid triathlete, having competed in three ironman distance triathalons. He’s also a surfer, spending plenty of time in Southern California even before the Rams relocated to the region in 2016.

That came into play in the summer of 2015, as Fassel helped save a man’s live in the Pacific Ocean last year.

ESPN first reported the story, which Fassel re-told during training camp. Fassel was in the water along Manhattan Beach boogie-boarding late one afternoon when he noticed a man caught in the riptide, struggling and drifting away. The Rams coach swam to the man and with the help of fellow surfer Jim Burton, put him on a surf board until aid from the Manhattan Beach Lifeguards arrived.

“Me and Jim said he was less than 30 seconds away from not being able to hang in there," Fassel said in July 2015. "But it all happened so fast. Major kudos to Burton, the Manhattan Beach lifeguards and fire department paramedics. It was seriously amazing how fast they got on the scene. When we got him in, and he had the help he needed, we were high-fiving and celebrating."


— Fassel’s father, Jim, is a former head coach of the New York Giants. The elder Fassel led the club for seven years, coaching the Giants to an NFC Championship in 2000.

— John Fassel does have some head coaching experience, albeit at a significantly different level. From 2003-2004, Fassel was the head coach and assistant athletic director at New Mexico Highlands University. There, Fassel also served six months as the interim athletic director and taught courses for both undergraduate and graduate students.

— Fassel and his wife, Elizabeth, have two daughters — Lila and Avery.