The Titans and Jeff Fisher “agreed to part ways” yesterday, but everyone knows what that really means: the NFL’s longest tenured coach was fired.Fisher had just one year remaining on his contract, and considering the two sides couldn’t forge an agreement for an extension, better to let him go now than endure an uninspired season under a lame-duck coach, writes Michael Lombardi for NFL.com.
But the question on our mind is, why did they do it now? What prompted the firing? Why did it take place well after the traditional coaching carousel season (the first two weeks of the playoffs)?
It must have been a rash decision. Earlier this month, Bud Adams publicly said – and even released an official statement – that Fisher would return to coach the Titans for the 2011 season. The owner announced he was parting ways with quarterback Vince Young, a source of contention for Fisher that seemed to indicate the franchise had chosen the coach over the quarterback.
Fisher himself was confident enough in his return to extend his assistant coaches’ contracts for another season.
Then, when word of the firing leaked and reporters asked Titans owner Bud Adams for comment last night, his response was very, very bizarre:
“Where did you hear that? I better check on that. I can’t talk about it now. I have to talk to my people there. I haven’t talked to them today. I really can’t talk about it now because I don’t know what’s been said. I want to see what is going on.”
(For good measure The Times asked exiled quarterback Vince Young for his reaction, and he too was surprised.)
So what caused the sudden change of heart?
Some reports indicate that Fisher’s attempts to hire his son angered Bud Adams and pushed him to reverse course, but Fisher called those reports “bogus” (via ProFootballTalk). Other reports claim that Fisher’s decision to extend all of his assistants didn’t sit well with Adams. In the aforementioned column for NFL.com, Lombardi writes that the departure of Fisher’s widely-respected defensive line coach, Jim Washburn, actually compelled Fisher to head toward the exits.
Whatever the reason, if the Titans fired Fisher, it better have been with good cause. He’s been successful enough, and handled himself with enough class over the last 17 years to deserve a shot at another head coaching job. But Fisher doesn’t have it. Due to the timing of this move, all the other coaching vacancies have long been filled, and Fisher will either be forced to stoop to a coordinating position or sit out a year. What a shame. He definitely would have been a coveted commodity just three short weeks ago.
Sure, Fisher still gets to collect somewhere between $4 and $6.5 million, but the sudden dismissal is disheartening and doesn’t reflect well upon Bud Adams, whose football sense has been called into question for years. We have our cannons out, ready to blast Bud Adams if this truly was a mere change of heart, rather than a decision made with good cause.
Worst-case scenario: he suddenly decided he couldn’t bear the thought of his beloved but immature quarterback playing for another team.
Regardless, hopefully the well-respected coach is spotted on the sideline again sooner, rather than later.
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