Titans keep Jeff Fisher for 17th season
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Bud Adams has thought it over, and the Tennessee Titans' owner has decided he isn't ready just yet to part with Jeff Fisher.
"Jeff has meant a great deal to this franchise and we have reached some incredible heights under his leadership," Adams said in a statement Friday.
Adams also thanked fans for their patience over the past week while he decided on the team's future.
"Obviously, I have very high expectations for our football team and want to deliver a championship to our fans," the 88-year-old owner said. "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 comes two days after Adams agreed 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. "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."
Adams' decision means Fisher, the NFL's longest-tenured coach, will be back for a 17th season. Fisher wasn't available to comment because he was traveling to Arizona to watch his son Trent play for Auburn in the BCS championship game. But he said in a statement that he and Adams had a good talk about the team.
"Clearly I am pleased with the news today. Presenting Mr. Adams with his first Lombardi Trophy is still the objective and I will continue to work for that goal," Fisher said.
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. "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."
Fisher is under contract for 2011 for $6.5 million, but changes to his coaching staff are expected as part of his return for another season.
His Titans slumped from a 5-2 start to a 6-10 finish, losing eight of their final nine. Fisher promoted Chuck Cecil to defensive coordinator two seasons ago, and the defense improved only 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 had since founding the franchise in 1959 and moving 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 playoff 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.