Friday, January 28, 2011

Jeff Fisher Is Out

Considering what he might have had to work with if the upcoming season wasn't canceled, I'm not surprised Jeff Fisher is no longer the Tennessee Titans head coach. It was looking like he wouldn't be here past next year anyway. How was he expected to win with his assistants bailing and an uncertain future at quarterback, no matter which of the names might have come here.

For years, I'd felt Fisher had taken this team as far as he possibly could, and I wished he would move on. The usual response to that was, "Well, who would the Titans get to replace him?" The fact is, once you're stuck with a guy you don't have much confidence in anymore, it really doesn't matter. You just want someone new, and hope that even if the new guy isn't very good, it leads to a better hire.

I think once a man in a certain position has had success with his style, and Fisher experienced it early in his tenure with a Super Bowl trip in 1999, then that's exactly the style you are going to get no matter what the personnel. I think it's perceived, right or wrong, that a man in Fisher's position just can't adjust to another way of doing things if the personnel isn't there. Rather than, "this might work," it's "Well, this worked before so we're going to keep doing it, even if it's a massive failure right now."

And what I'm getting to with Fisher's style is, he liked vanilla offense with the very rare twist. He liked to run the ball, with little deception. And the discipline on these teams could get very frustrating. I don't think the Titans were ever a huge overall penalties/yardage team (except this year), but they always seemed to get a penalty at the wrong time, at a crucial moment in the game. That's at least the perception I've had over the years.

So I sort of got tired of that whole thing. I'd like to see something different, because we experienced a lot of 8-8's and one-and-dones in the playoffs. We were hoping that Fisher could replicate 1999 every year, forgetting how lucky the Titans were back then and how that Bills game was a few seconds away from being the type of loss we'd later come to expect from them. Because Fisher liked to play a pounding run game with very few points scored, it meant that any mistake could turn the game on its ear, despite completely dominating teams in the stat category. Famously, in 2000, the Titans lost one of their defining playoff games against the Ravens after having outgained them in every offensive category except the score, because turnovers absolutely killed the "dominance" they were otherwise enjoying.

We like Fisher because of those happy feelings from 1999 and his no-nonsense approach appealed to Nashville, and it will be sad to see him go because we've lived with him so long. Many of us are ready to gamble that this franchise will be a perennial 4-12 team by putting in a new guy, because we know what we get with Fisher and it's hard to imagine his style would have taken them far ever again, even when they havethe better team on the field. In the end, Fisher underachieved more than he achieved, and despite the idea that the Titans might be worse off without him, it's something I'm ready to accept.

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