Titans elevate Cecil to defensive coordinator

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Jeff Fisher got his big chance when he was promoted from defensive backs coach to defensive coordinator with Philadelphia. As head coach of the Tennessee Titans, Fisher is committed to doing the same for other coaches on his staff.

On Thursday, he promoted former NFL safety Chuck Cecil from secondary coach to defensive coordinator to fill the spot left vacant when Jim Schwartz was hired as the Detroit Lions' new head coach last month.

Fisher said he was second-guessed when Buddy Ryan promoted him back in Philadelphia with three years as an assistant. He also heard the doubts when he promoted Gregg Williams from linebackers to coordinator in 1997 and again in 2001 when he moved Schwartz up after only one year coaching linebackers.

"Chuck's got a lot more experience than any of us," Fisher said.

Cecil has been with the Titans the past eight seasons, starting as quality control coach in 2001 before coaching safeties and nickel backs between 2004 and 2006. He took over coaching the secondary the past two seasons and had three players play in the Pro Bowl last weekend in All Pro cornerback Cortland Finnegan and safeties Chris Hope and Michael Griffin.

"Chuck has worked with Jim. He's been in the box. He's heard every call. He's watched everything, every play in the ball game. To me, it was an easy decision," Fisher said.

But the Titans didn't rush into making this announcement. Fisher said he did not look at any outside candidates. Linebackers coach and former Arizona head coach Dave McGinnis was considered because continuity and stability is crucial for a defense that ranked second in the NFL in points allowed per game in 2008. Fisher said McGinnis was in favor of promoting Cecil.

So why the delay? Fisher said they didn't want to interfere with UCLA's recruiting in hiring Tim Hauck as assistant secondary coach.

"Tim has played with Chuck, knows Chuck. He played in the league 13 years. He'll be a great fit for our defense as well," Fisher said.

Cecil also played seven seasons in the NFL with one Pro Bowl appearance at safety with stints with the Green Bay Packers, Phoenix Cardinals and the Houston Oilers in 1995 in Fisher's first full season as head coach. He started his coaching career breaking down video as quality control coach in 2001 with the Titans, a tedious job he worked at for three years.

"I remember him as a player for us just that one year. He knew the defense probably better than some of the assistants on the staff at that time," Fisher said.

As a player, Cecil was known for his physical, aggressive style. Asked if he wanted the Titans to take on the personality he played with, Cecil chuckled.

"I hope not. I don't think they can afford it nowadays," he said.

Cecil said he never thought of how far he might go in coaching but is ready for this challenge.

"I'm very fortunate. That's the one nice thing. It's not a rebuilding process that we're going to go through. It's really a reloading process so hit the ground running and looking forward to that. I feel very fortunate. Am I ready? We'll wait and see. I feel ready. I feel confident in what I'm going to do, and we're going to do good things here," Cecil said.

The Titans also promoted Marcus Robertson to secondary coach.

Robertson played in the NFL himself 12 seasons, 10 with this franchise. He was an All Pro in 1993.

Hauck has been coaching the past five years, the first four at his alma mater Montana where he coached Fisher's son, Brandon, for two seasons.

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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