I don’t think Jeff Fisher is a bad coach by any means. I also don’t think he’s one of the very best, either, which is where I’m more apt to hear someone try to put him when they are talking about coaches. I think it’s the longevity thing, and comfort. We know he’s not a horrible coach, and he’s lasted a long time in Tennessee, brought the team back from salary cap prison, and made playoff appearances with three different starting quarterbacks. Here’s the thing, though, he’s coached for 17 years. That first year was as the interim coach replacing Jack Pardee in Houston for the last 6 games, so he’s coached an even 16 years since. There are 16 teams in a conference. Jeff Fisher has coached in the playoffs 6 seasons. Six teams make the playoffs each year. That pretty much means the Titans have made the playoffs exactly an average amount of times since Fisher has been coach. Like I said, not the worst, but certainly not the best.
The thing is, the message sometimes gets stale, and a fine line exists between stability and staleness. I suspect that the Titans have crossed that line. The team has now lost 6 games in a row and I’m pretty comfortable saying they won’t be in the playoffs again this year. I’m not much into guessing whether this team has quit on a coach, because I think there are so many shades of that, injuries have played a role, and well, I’m not smart enough to diagnose such things and tend to think most NFL players play hard through most circumstances. I just see the fruits, which has been a team going in the wrong direction 17 years in to his leadership.
Honestly, he’s gotten a fair amount of time since his only Super Bowl appearance after the 1999 season, and eleven years is a long time in both dog and NFL years. Let’s put it this way. Don Shula coached exactly 11 seasons with the Dolphins after his final Super Bowl appearance. Jim Mora of the Saints coached 11 seasons in New Orleans without ever reaching a Super Bowl. Tom Landry coached 10 more after his fifth and final Super Bowl. Only one coach has gone more than 11 straight seasons with one organization in the Super Bowl era without a Super Bowl appearance. That was Chuck Noll, who coached from 1980-1991 after winning his fourth ring.
I’m not sure that Fisher should garner any more time than those legends, well, three legends and one press conference legend. The Titans look farther a way now than they did a decade ago, during the halcyon days with Steve McNair, Eddie George, and Jevon Kearse. It’s probably time for a change.
[photo via Getty]