Titans owner Adams still evaluating coach Fisher's status

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Titans owner Bud Adams isn't rushing into a decision on whether to fire Jeff Fisher, the NFL's longest-tenured coach, or part with Vince Young, the franchise quarterback drafted on his orders back in 2006.

"I will make the decisions that I feel are in the best interest of the team," Adams said in a statement released just before Fisher spoke to reporters Monday. "I do understand the time element involved and would expect to make these decisions in the near future."

Adams met with general manager Mike Reinfeldt and senior executive vice president Steve Underwood on Monday morning in Houston as Fisher wrapped up physicals and held a team meeting in Nashville. More meetings are expected the next few days.

The Titans entered 2010 with high expectations after winning eight of their final 10 games in 2009 to rebound from an 0-6 start. Tennessee began this season 5-2, but Young reinjured his hamstring and wide receiver Kenny Britt suffered a strained right hamstring, forcing him out for six games, in an Oct. 31 loss to the San Diego Chargers.

Tennessee lost its next six games and eight of its final nine, falling from the AFC South lead to last place in the division.

The Titans finished their season Sunday with a 23-20 loss at Indianapolis.

The franchise has missed the playoffs two consecutive years, and Fisher's last playoff win was January 2004. The 6-10 record is the Titans' worst since a 4-12 campaign in 2005.

Adams said Fisher's history with the team, the NFL's labor situation and "other challenges" must be considered in his evaluation. Fisher, whose tenure has never before been in question, said he would talk with Reinfeldt, Underwood and Adams in the next few days.

Fisher, who has been in charge since 1994 -- when the team was the Houston Oilers -- said he would like a decision "the sooner, the better." He's under contract for 2011, said he wants to retire with the Titans and called speculation that his job's at risk part of the profession.

"It's the same seat I've been sitting in for years," Fisher said. "So that's the perception out there. Again, I'm trying to assist the organization in a process that's complicated."

If Fisher stays, Young's future could be elsewhere. Fisher declined comment when asked if he would coach the Titans if former University of Texas standout remained on the roster, saying any discussions with Adams about the quarterback would be kept between them.

"We have to address the quarterback situation for the future," Fisher said.

Young didn't attend the team's final meeting Monday, nor did he show up for an exit physical, but Fisher said not all players on injured reserve attend. Pressed on why Young wasn't at team headquarters, Fisher said the quarterback never was instructed not to come in.

"You have to ask him," Fisher said.

The rift between Fisher and Young developed Nov. 21 when the quarterback suffered a season-ending thumb injury, tossed his shoulder pads into the crowd in frustration, had a locker-room altercation with the coach, then stormed out.

"The depth of it is between him and V, so that's something you're going to have to ask them," said Titans tight end Bo Scaife, also a teammate of Young's at Texas.

Scaife, a six-year NFL veteran who likely won't return after he wasn't activated for two of Tennessee's final three games, said he believes his teammates probably want Fisher back next season.

"Everyone that leaves talks about how much they miss playing for Fisher and stuff like that," Scaife said. "He's loved all across the league by current and former players."

Chris Johnson said the team's collapse had nothing to do with what happened between Fisher and Young, noting the Titans were halfway through their six-game skid by then.

"So I can't sit here and blame it on that," Johnson said.

Johnson said he'd love to play with Young if he returns. Young is due a $4.25 million roster bonus on the 10th day of the new league year -- whenever that starts following a new labor agreement -- and an $8.5 million salary for 2011.

Young is 30-17 as a starter but just 13-14 against teams that finished .500 or better.

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The Titans have other issues to resolve this offseason.

The defense ranked 26th in total yards allowed and 29th against the pass. The unit that intercepted 12 passes and recovered six fumbles through the first five games forced just seven turnovers the final nine games.

Tennessee were the third-most penalized team, at 1,040 yards (from 128 infractions). Only the Oakland Raiders (1,276) and Philadelphia Eagles (1,101) were penalized more yards.

Johnson was a plus, following up his 2,006-yard 2009 campaign by rushing for 1,364 yards, fourth in the NFL, but he said Monday a thigh injury limited him during the six-game skid. Even with Johnson's numbers, the Titans ranked 27th in total yards and 17th in rushing.

Before the Titans can begin to work on these things, Adams must make his decision.

"We're in a position where we haven't been before," Fisher said. "When you add to that the uncertainty of the labor situation, I can stand up and say the only thing that is certain is uncertainty right now, and we have to work through it."

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

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