Tennessee Titans  

 

Titans owner decides to keep Fisher; uncertain after 2011

Tennessee Titans owner Bud Adams thought it over and decided he wasn't ready to part with Jeff Fisher. That could change after the 2011 season, however.

Jeff Fisher will be the Titans' coach in 2011, but nothing is guaranteed after that.
Jeff Fisher will be the Titans' coach in 2011, but nothing is guaranteed after that. (Joe Howell/Associated Press)

Although Adams announced Friday that Fisher will remain coach of the Titans, neither side broached the possibility of a contract extension, according to a league source, and no talks are scheduled. Both sides are prepared to play out the final year on Fisher's deal, which will pay the coach $6.5 million, in a lame-duck situation.

Fisher could opt to become a free agent after the 2011 season, and some sources close to the coach would advise him to do so after what would be 17 years with one franchise.

It is conceivable the sides could begin to talk about a contract at some point during the season, depending on how things are proceeding, but Fisher has no plans to seek that at this time.

And at this time, he's still in charge in Tennessee.

"Jeff has meant a great deal to this franchise and we have reached some incredible heights under his leadership," Adams said in a statement released by the Titans. "Obviously, I have very high expectations for our football team and want to deliver a championship to our fans. Jeff understands this and shares my expectations. The results of his leadership have been some very good football teams and I believe he will get us back to an elite level."

The decision came two days after Adams agreed that the Titans needed to part with Vince Young five seasons after he ordered the quarterback drafted. Young was 30-17, not counting his lone playoff loss, but he told off Fisher in front of the team after suffering a season-ending injury Nov. 21.

"There wasn't any hesitancy of waiting till the 25th hour," Titans linebacker Will Witherspoon said of the decision to part with Young. "There's plenty of time for things to be done. I think Vince has a very bright future ahead of him. I'm just sorry I didn't get a chance to see him grow into the quarterback I think he can be."

Fisher wasn't available to comment because he was traveling to Arizona to watch his son, Trent, play for Auburn in the BCS national championship game against Oregon. But he said in a statement that he and Adams "had a good talk about where we are as a football team."

"Clearly I am pleased with the news today," Fisher said. "Presenting Mr. Adams with his first Lombardi Trophy is still the objective and I will continue to work for that goal."

Changes to the coaching staff are expected to be part of Fisher's return.

Witherspoon said he signed with the Titans last March because of Fisher and how the coach understands the game inside out, upside down, beyond the X's and O's.

"The other side of it is he understands the players' perspective," Witherspoon said of Fisher, who played defensive back for the Chicago Bears from 1981 to 1984. "He understands how to approach it, and I think the better part about it is he's consistent. He understands there's ebbs and flows, but at the same time he knows how to approach that and say, `OK guys get your feet back on the ground. We're going for round two, the next snap."

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The Titans slumped from a 5-2 start to a 6-10 finish, losing eight of their final nine games. Fisher promoted Chuck Cecil to defensive coordinator two seasons ago, and the defense improved just two slots this season in two key categories: total yards allowed (26th) and against the pass (29th).

"I have been the one who has made the staff changes since I really I took over," Fisher said Monday when asked if he was willing to shake up his staff. "So if there is changes, those changes will be made by me. I have a pretty good idea of what needs to be done if in fact we do need to make changes."

Adams has stuck with Fisher about three times longer than any other coach he has hired since founding the Houston Oilers franchise in 1959 and moving it to Tennessee in 1997. Fisher has coached 273 games for the team, which is more games than any coach has with one franchise except for six Hall of Famers: George Halas, Tom Landry, Don Shula, Chuck Noll, Curly Lambeau and Bud Grant.

But the Titans slumped from 13-3 in 2008 to 8-8 in 2009 following an 0-6 start to this season's stumble. The Titans have missed the playoffs the last two seasons, and Fisher's last postseason victory came in January 2004. Tennessee lost a wild-card game in San Diego in 2007 and wasted the AFC's top seed in 2008.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.`

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