The Firing Jeff Fisher Debate… A Captain-less Ship

Read the opposing argument from Sports Geek.

Many football fans were surprised by the Tennessee Titans’ sudden dismissal of head coach Jeff Fisher. His dismissal came after the generally accepted “silly season” of coaching staff turnover and led many to question not only the timing of the decision, but the thinking behind the decision as well. I was definitely one of those people, and I’ve happily accepted my assignment to throw a few more logs on that fire. I do not believe the Titans should have fired Jeff Fisher.

I accept the Titans definitely do not fall into the category of being one of those teams that grew impatient with a coach and jettisoned him too early. Fisher was the coach of the Titans for 17 years, so it’s definitely hard to make the argument that the organization just didn’t give him enough time. Beyond that, what made the decision even stranger was the obvious affinity that the Titans organization has for Fisher. If you see any of the media availabilities surrounding his firing, all involved (even Fisher himself) seemed to act exactly the opposite of the way you would expect surrounding a firing.

That all throws the firing into question, I believe. There are two arguments that the Titans should have hung onto Fisher. First, I think it’s very difficult to make an argument that the Titans were slipping into oblivion as a football team. While the 2010 season record was a disappointing 6-10, two of the previous three seasons saw the Titans register double digit wins. Based on those statistics (and Fisher’s over .500 winning percentage as a head coach), it’s very difficult to say the team and the organization was headed in a negative direction.

The second argument for why the Titans should not have fired Fisher rests on the organization’s handling of the Vince Young soap opera during the 2010 season. There were many conflicting statements from ownership and organizational leadership regarding how the Titans were going to handle Vince Young after his antics began to affect the team. That all came to a head in a game on November 21 when Young apparently threw his shoulder pads into the stands and stormed out on his team after telling off Fisher. Bud Adams, the 88-year-old Titans owner, made statements after that saying the team intended to hang onto Vince Young, seemingly leaving Fisher dangling in the wind. It seemed obvious to outside observers that Fisher and Young would not be able to co-exist. The organization continued to contend that both would stay. However, there were soon very loud whispers that the Titans were attempting to trade Vince Young, and those loud whispers were eventually followed by the Titans’ surprising announcement that Jeff Fisher had been fired.

That whole Young/Fisher saga makes me wonder what kind of organizational leadership the Titans have these days. Given their aged owner and somewhat schizophrenic public statements, don’t you think they would have benefitted from having a steady hand on the tiller during this time of change? They’ll obviously have a changeover at quarterback, and the team’s public statements do not give fans a sense that a steady hand is on the tiller anywhere in the organization. The organization should not have escorted their one symbol of stability out the door.

However, this situation will end up benefitting Fisher in the end. He’ll be long gone when the Titans struggle through a change at quarterback and coaching staff upheaval, with his well-regarded reputation intact. Do I think this was a positive move for Jeff Fisher’s career? I do. However, it was one of the worst things the Tennessee Titans could have done this off-season.

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