Friday, January 28, 2011
Jeff Fisher out in Tennessee
Jeff Fisher has been patrolling the sidelines in Tennessee every since I can remember following football, much less the Titans. He has been with the team since 1994, taking over for Jack Pardee and is the only coach we’ve ever had since the team moved to Nashville. He was has been a mainstay in the community and the face of the franchise. The local media have been set ablaze with the news of his departure. All over town you hear people talking about it as if they lost someone in their family and to a certain extent I can understand that sentiment. After 16 years and leading the Titans to multiple playoffs appearances and a lone Super Bowl it feels like we all in Nashville know Fisher personally. The local reaction has also seen some in town happy to see him leave due to his conservative nature in play calling and the strain of having the same coach for the past 16 years.
However, a dark cloud has hung over this team for awhile now. Fisher, who has always been known as a players coach, started to lose some of his control of his team. I personally believe that it dated back to the Pacman Jones days when he was running rampant here in the Music City. Jones reckless abandon was never able to be reigned in by Fisher, although I don’t believe anyone would be able to control Pacman at the height of his ordeal. The Pacman situation coupled with the shedding of Fisher’s trusted veteran leadership caused problems in the locker room. Fisher couldn’t depend on the players “policing themselves” as they did in the past when the likes of Wycheck, McNair, Marcus Robertson and Blaine Bishop were there. The Peyton Manning jersey wearing flap wasn’t a good look either.
As the season’s mounted up, the product on the field began to deteriorate as well over the last two seasons. Every since the Titans sparkling 13-3 season in 2008, they have below .500 football with a 14-18 record to show for it. It seemed like this season everything came to a head as the Vince Young incident blew up in Fisher face and owner Bud Adams basically siding with Young on the incident. From that point in my opinion is where Fisher lost his team for good. When a player goes on a tirade of that magnitude and shouts profanities at the head coach in plain view as Young did, it has an effect on everyone. Players begin to doubt who is in control of the team. They also begin to take sides rather it be good or bad.
It’s sad an era marked by amazing consistency (Fisher was 142-120 including 6 playoff appearances and 1 AFC championship) ended on a whimper of a season. Al Davis said that a coach should only spend 10 years in one position (Never though I would be quoting the skeleton that is Al Davis) because the message stale after awhile. There are only so many ra-ra speeches and motivational tools a coach can use to rile up his players and I’m pretty sure Fisher has used them all here. Fisher only had one year remaining on his contract and it seems that instead of being a lame-duck coach, all sides agreed that the best thing moving forward would be to separate before it got any worse. GM Mike Reinfeldt now has the task of finding someone to replace Fisher. It’s not the easiest thing to do just ask the front office of Denver as they find themselves in disarray.
On the other hand, don’t think for a second that this means that Vince Young is being invited back into the fold. As reported by ESPN’s and former Tennesean writer Paul Kuharsky: If Young had won his head-to-head battle with Fisher, it would have been hard enough for Fisher’s replacement to come into a situation in which the quarterback had amassed more power than the coach.
If Fisher’s replacement came in now and had a quarterback the team had announced wouldn’t be back, it would be even more difficult.
The Titans are starting from zero at coach and at quarterback.
The labor impasse makes it the worst possible time to be looking for either, let alone both.
Young cannot be traded before a new collective bargaining agreement is in place, as the 2010 trade deadline was on Oct. 19.
So that should put an end to those rumors.
All things considered Titans fans, don’t forget what this man has given us his all over the last 16 years. He brought us a competitive team that always fought hard on the field. He brought us our four division titles with one Super Bowl appearance and respect around the nation for our formidable team. He will surely be a hot commodity in the NFL coaching circle and his name should pop up with any vacant job that becomes available (I know there are a few teams kicking themselves wishing they could have waited this out). Early word has him landing a coordinator spot as early as next season although that would definitely be weird to see in that capacity after leading a team for so long. Many people are happy that he is gone but don’t like they say you don’t what your missing until it’s gone. Thanks Jeff Fisher for everything you gave to the city of Nashville. Your hard work and dedication will always be appreciated here and are a better community for have you.