Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

27 Jan 2011

Titans To Part Ways With Jeff Fisher

Don Banks of Sports Illustrated is reporting that the Titans are apparently parting ways with head coach Jeff Fisher. The move will be announced on Friday.

Posted by: Bill Barnwell on 27 Jan 2011

54 comments, Last at 04 Feb 2011, 2:41pm by Dave0


by parkgrades (not verified) :: Thu, 01/27/2011 - 7:12pm

Wow. Can the Broncos re-consider their HC hire? I'd rather have Fisher than John Fox...

by An Onimous (not verified) :: Fri, 01/28/2011 - 6:15am

But would you rather have Jeff Fisher for $8 million a year than John Fox for $3.5 million a year, remembering that you're already still paying Mike Shanahan and Josh McDaniels the remainder of their contracts?

by tuluse :: Fri, 01/28/2011 - 3:51pm

Since it's not his money, and doesn't count against the cap, I doubt he cares about the price.

by Formersd (not verified) :: Thu, 01/27/2011 - 7:18pm

Talk about screwing a guy. Hold onto him until all the HC vacancies are filled, then cut him loose. You stay classy, Bud!

by Barry (not verified) :: Thu, 01/27/2011 - 7:19pm

Jeff Fisher has 6 winning seasons in 17 years as a head coach. I have no idea why people think he is a good coach. Are you telling me another coach couldn't have repeated his results in that time?

by speedegg :: Thu, 01/27/2011 - 7:56pm

Well, it's hard to win when your old GM believes in the Boom-Bust method of salary cap management or the front office gets a QB that can't run a pro style offense. And despite having large vacuums of talent on the roster Fischer and staff prepare their team well and are competitive against better teams.

Still why fire Fischer this late and who will they get as the new HC....and defensive coordinator? Do they make a run at McDaniels in the hopes he can develop Vince Young? Or, maybe they want Rob Ryan as HC and get Brad Childress as OC?

by MilkmanDanimal :: Thu, 01/27/2011 - 8:10pm

I think he gets fired this late because Bud Adams is apparently a bit of a douchebag. I mean, what the hell? I don't doubt he will be grabbed for a DC job in no time flat and then move back as a head coach next year.

This is a perfect opportunity for Jeff Ireland to start yanking Tony Sparano's chain again.

by Safety_First (not verified) :: Thu, 01/27/2011 - 11:41pm

A Yahoo article on the subject gave his head coaching record as 142-120 in the regular season, and 5-6 in the playoffs. I'm not saying that a 54% regular season winning percentage and a just-under-500 record in the playoffs are necessarily Hall of Fame caliber, but looking around the rest of the league over the past decade or so - it could have been a hell of a lot worse.

I'm not even mentioning things like Weeb Ewbank's AFL and NFL record of 130-129-7 (plus 4-1 in the playoffs) - yeah, Weeb to Fisher may be a bit like apples to prunes, but there's one example for you where a "visually" less than stellar record is completely overlooked by an adoring fanbase (for the record, I'm not a Jets fan myself, but am surrounded by them on a daily basis, and 99.9% of them love them some Weeb), not to mention the Hall of Fame.

Regardless, the article also reports that it was Fisher's decision, possibly made after he lost two of his assistants (one went to the Eagles, the other was fired). So Bud seems to have been ok with keeping him around, head coaching record notwithstanding...

by Deelron :: Fri, 01/28/2011 - 3:03pm

That's fairly cherry picking, he's had 11 non-losing seasons, having finished 8-8 multiple times. Considering coaches from the NFL's top 20 winningest coaches such as Dan Reeves, Chuck Knox, Weeb Ewbank and Mike Ditka all have similar winning percentages I'd say he's a a pretty good (but not elite coach).

by Thok :: Fri, 01/28/2011 - 6:23pm

Also, three of the 8-8 years came when the franchise was in complete flux during the Houston to Memphis to Nashville move.

(Mentioning the Memphis part is important: it's basically a similar situation to what happened to the Saints after Hurricane Katrina, except that the Oilers woes were inflicted by Bud Adams.

This isn't meant to trivialize the effects of Hurricane Katrina, except with respect to football.)

by William Lloyd Garrison III (not verified) :: Mon, 01/31/2011 - 3:40pm

Jeff Fisher is to 8-8 what Adam Dunn is to 40 home runs.

by VarlosZ :: Sat, 01/29/2011 - 12:30pm

That stat is so selective (or, really, phrased in such a way) that it almost qualifies as intentionally misleading. I could take the same information and put it this way: Jeff Fisher has 5 losing seasons in 16 years (not counting his first year, when he took over as interim coach for a 1-9 team).

Of course, that's almost as misleading as your number. A fairer defense: Jeff Fisher was 142-120 in the regular season, despite taking over the team when it was awful, and despite having to effectively cut his entire roster after the 2003 season for salary cap reasons.

by herm :: Sat, 01/29/2011 - 1:51pm

NFL coaches are expected to win, not just to not lose. Having a bunch of 8-8 seasons is better than a bunch of 6-10/7-9 seasons, but no franchise should be satisfied with that performance. Fisher might be doing a alright job making a bad situation into a decent one, but 8 seasons without a playoff win is a ridiculously long time in modern NFL terms. The only guys who have been around even close to as long as Fisher are Belichick and Reid and they have both been extremely successful (Patriots are the best team of the decade and the Eagles are the best NFC team of the decade).

by Safety_First (not verified) :: Sat, 01/29/2011 - 11:25pm

Which makes Fisher...not as elite as Belichick or Reid (and for comparative purposes you might as well include guys like Cowher and Dungy - Cowher had what, 14 seasons in Pittsburgh before leaving?), but at least capable of, as you say, having a bunch of 8-8 seasons. [By the way, didn't we just have a playoff team go in at 7-9? Yes, that was intentionally snarky. Still, what's Fisher's divisional record, for example - does it make him look better or worse than his overall win-loss count?]

Sounds like "not great but still decent" to me. Which, I believe, is what people here, myself included, seem to be arguing. And how many teams are there in this league who - among other problems - haven't even managed to work their way to even a "decent" head coach in the past decade or so?

Besides which, time frames matter as well. For example, looking at Fisher's winning percentage (on pro-football-reference.com), his 1994-1998 teams weren't that great, then from 1999 to 2010 he has 5 seasons (so 5 out of 11) where his team is ranked in the top 5. I don't know what a given owner looks at when interviewing a head coach, but if I were him, and if I were writing my resume, I'd, for example, emphasize the post-1999 period - and again, it comes down to the fact that here's a guy that when the chips break his way, he can win, and when they don't, he isn't the worst thing in the world - ok, is that better or worse than half the head coaches in the league right now?

by BJR :: Tue, 02/01/2011 - 6:38am

How about looking at the circumstances as well? It isn't really any conincidence that Jacksonville has only one playoff win, and Houston zero, in that timeframe.

by phillyangst :: Thu, 01/27/2011 - 7:25pm

ANDY REID: "I'd like to introduce our new Defensive Coordinator, Jeff Fisher. Time is yours."

"DVOA loves Philadelphia!"

by bill (not verified) :: Thu, 01/27/2011 - 8:23pm

When dude has weapons, he can def get to your QB...

by V. Barbarino (not verified) :: Thu, 01/27/2011 - 7:53pm

Does this mean the Titans are bringing back Vince Young after all? I don't think that cutting ties with VY and Fisher was the original plan, was it?
Tennessee the early favorite for overall #1 pick next year, it would seem. I would call and ask about Chris Johnson if I was another team.
As to the Broncos, I don't think Fisher is an upgrade over Fox at this point.

by sundown (not verified) :: Thu, 01/27/2011 - 8:21pm

No, dumping them both makes absolutely no sense. But they were completely confused from the first moment Fisher and Young got into it. You'll recall Bud backed Young initially, then in the midst of it all they sent out Christmas cards with Bud smiling next to Young and Chris Johnson--only to part ways with Young before people even had their trees down. Now this. Bud Adams is starting to act a lot like Al Davis...names are even a bit similar.

by are-tee :: Thu, 01/27/2011 - 7:58pm

I'd bet a lot of Jets fans are hoping Brian Schottenheimer gets an interview.

by sundown (not verified) :: Thu, 01/27/2011 - 8:16pm

So, they dumped both Young and Fisher? Completely bizarre. And while it screws Fisher over with it happening this late, it also means the Titans will have a much smaller pool of quality candidates from which to pick their next coach. Bud, you're leading your team down the toilet.

by Floyd (not verified) :: Fri, 01/28/2011 - 1:02pm

I hear Kirk Ferentz is suddenly very interested in jumping to the NFL. Something about some angry parents.

by The Ninjalectual :: Thu, 01/27/2011 - 8:26pm

What was the name of that brilliant young DC they had in Tennessee? Schwartz? Maybe they can just promote him to HC!

by The Ninjalectual :: Thu, 01/27/2011 - 8:28pm

Nah, that would be stupid. After Josh McDaniels, we all know that former coordinators never become good head coaches!

by lionsbob :: Thu, 01/27/2011 - 9:37pm

Well Schwartz is at Detroit....

by Jerry :: Thu, 01/27/2011 - 10:18pm

Even I could see Ninjalectual's nonexistent sarcasm tags.

by johonny (not verified) :: Thu, 01/27/2011 - 8:34pm

so they waited until most jobs filled around the league so he couldn't move right into another coaching gig. Classy.

by are-tee :: Thu, 01/27/2011 - 8:48pm

I think the NFL should prohibit the hiring of new head coaches until after the Super Bowl. The current system makes it very difficult for assistants on teams that go deep into the playoffs to get head coaching jobs.

by Dennis :: Thu, 01/27/2011 - 9:28pm

So teams would just do all the interviews and make decisions ahead of time and wait until after the SB to make the announcements. Nothing would change.

by Mystyc :: Fri, 01/28/2011 - 12:04am

...unless a high-caliber head coach suddenly becomes available after you've chosen but before you've made it official. I imagine there would be some quick scrambling around in that case.

by Aaron Brooks' Good Twin (not verified) :: Fri, 01/28/2011 - 3:51pm

So? The Rooney Rule is already like that.

by Mikey :: Thu, 01/27/2011 - 8:51pm

There's no way he coaches this year, right? Coaches like him take a victory lap around the CBS or FOX studios, and then return to work after a break.

by BaronFoobarstein :: Thu, 01/27/2011 - 11:21pm

Oh, god. I hope not. I really don't want to have to hear what he has to say while watching any game ever.

by 3.14159265 (not verified) :: Fri, 01/28/2011 - 12:54am

My guess is he goes to the NFL network and ESPN. Actually, I hope he replaces Millen at both networks. I have realized the problem with football talking heads is that familiarity does breed contempt.

by Aaron Brooks' Good Twin (not verified) :: Fri, 01/28/2011 - 3:52pm

You don't need familiarity with Millen to have contempt. But it helps.

by tuluse :: Thu, 01/27/2011 - 10:07pm

Was I the only one expecting this article to be about Rex Grossman or at least the deep passing game?

by Mick (not verified) :: Thu, 01/27/2011 - 10:09pm

Fisher sucks. I hope they hire Kevin Gilbride, and the Giants get a new OC.

by JasonK :: Fri, 01/28/2011 - 11:27am

Gilbride gets so much undeserved criticism from Giants fans. I can understand being reticent about him based on his time in Buffalo and San Diego. But since he has become the Giants' OC, Giants fans have seen the team's best 4-year stretch of offensive performance since Y.A. Tittle retired.

by John (not verified) :: Fri, 01/28/2011 - 1:41am

As a Colts fan, I say: please, dear heaven, don't let him land in Jacksonville. Del Rio is our last, best hope for ongoing mediocrity from that team.

I'd love to see Fisher land with the Colts, somehow.

by The Ninjalectual :: Fri, 01/28/2011 - 12:29pm

That would be awesome for the Colts, but then again, ANYBODY except Caldwell would be awesome for the Colts. Caldwell's hyper-conservative coaching basically guarantees the Colts will never win another Super Bowl while he's in charge.

by herm :: Fri, 01/28/2011 - 1:02pm

The Colts were in perfectly good position to win a Super Bowl last year and it wasn't Caldwell who ended up throwing away the game. Not saying that has anything to do with Caldwell, but the idea that is the doom of the Colts is ridiculous exaggeration.

by BroncosGuyAgain (not verified) :: Fri, 01/28/2011 - 2:15am

Much of the commentary has been related to the insanity of firing Coach Fish. Actually, I agree that firing him would be silly. But I have yet to see anything to suggest that Bud Adams simply reached the conclusion he needed to fire him. Instead, all of the public comments point toward a mutual decision; each party had a disagreement with the other, and both were mature enough to acknowledge such. I still see it as a likely step backwards for the Titans, but I can't assume it is all due to a petulant owner.

For those who hope that Coach Fisher will become DC of their Local Team: get some traction. Jeff Fisher has options, and does not need to jump at his first coordinator offer. I don't think it is silly to suggest he just might get another head-coaching gig before he's through.

Extra points to those who know why Jeff Fisher's college career is significant.

by dryheat :: Fri, 01/28/2011 - 10:11am

Yeah...he's getting paid somewhere between 6.5 and 8 million by Bud Adams to not coach the Titans. He has no reason to be desperate and put himself in a potentially bad situation. He'll pull a Cowher/Shanahan and take at least a year off and be at the head of the line next cycle, where gigs like NYG, San Diego, and Indianapolis could come available.

As for the Titans, didn't Buddy Ryan briefly coach the Oilers (I think that's where he slugged Gilbride)? They say Munchak is the leading candidate, but I would expect Rob Ryan to get strong consideration, and possibly Eric Mangini.

by The Ninjalectual :: Fri, 01/28/2011 - 12:33pm

Mangini? You mean one of the worst head coaches of recent memory? Sure, he doesn't destroy his teams as spectacularly as McDaniels, but he's never actually done anything good, either.

by dryheat :: Fri, 01/28/2011 - 12:36pm

I agree with your assessment of Mangini. But I'm not in charge of hiring the coach.

by biebs (not verified) :: Fri, 01/28/2011 - 1:49pm

Mangini is one of the worst head coaches in recent memory? Why?

He didn't exactly have a wealth of talent in Cleveland to lead, and his work with the Jets while uneven, certainly wasn't terrible.

Manigni strikes me as a guy who should get a DC job for a few years and then be a better Head Coach for it somewhere else.

by RickD :: Fri, 01/28/2011 - 4:57pm

Mangini could be a DC, but his people skills are crap and he hasn't proven himself able to do much as a HC. He's already had two chances and that's more than most people get.

by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) :: Fri, 01/28/2011 - 10:11am

I agree that this move by the Titans is curious, bordering on stupid. But can we dispense with the notion that Fisher is getting screwed here? He's going to be paid $8 million not to coach. To us normal folks, that's roughly the equivalent of getting fired and receiving a year of severance. He is in no way whatsoever being treated unfairly.

by BigWoody (not verified) :: Fri, 01/28/2011 - 4:35pm

Yeah, but if it was his idea or a mutual decision as has been suggested, does he get the 8 mil?

by sundown (not verified) :: Mon, 01/31/2011 - 6:50pm

Surely, Fisher is smart enough to have kept it from being "mutual" if he was going to lose the $8 mil. He was, after all, going to be rid of the thorn in his side known as Vince Young.

by Dave0 :: Fri, 01/28/2011 - 7:27pm

why is everyone acting like jeff fisher got screwed? jeff fisher is going to be paid mad bux to sip daiquiris this year.

i for one salute bud adams for his 'no, you don't get to hire your family for your staff' stance. nepotism seems to be suffusing nfl coaching stalves and its probably just as bad an idea there as it is in industry or government.

by Scott P. (not verified) :: Wed, 02/02/2011 - 4:05pm

Because it's sad to see somebody who's good at what they do get fired, despite being competent, and then not be able to do what they're good at, regardless of how well they are being compensated.

I would not want to trade places with Jeff Fisher right now, $8 million or no.

by Dave0 :: Fri, 02/04/2011 - 2:41pm

you've got to be kidding.

Jeff Fisher is being paid nearly $4000/hr in 2011 to play golf. He'll have plenty of opportunity for a plum position in 2012 if he wants it. It's not like he's being thrown to Malta penniless and destitute.

by Raiderjoe :: Sat, 01/29/2011 - 5:30pm

J. Fisher very andy reidy.