This is the first in a potentially continuing series of posts that address some specious arguments against Jeff Fisher. These address the arguments that rate higher in truthiness than they do in truthfulness. They are not necessarily considered an endorsement of Jeff Fisher's continuing emplyment by the Titans, rather they're an attempt cohesively make some points that many people conveniently leave out. Let us begin:
1: This was a Super Bowl caliber roster, and Jeff Fisher blew it.
Nope. Last year we were a Super Bowl caliber team, but this squad got old, quick. KVB, Kearse, Harper (all key players last year) and to a lesser extent, Hope (who isn't trash, but isn't quite as sharp as he was) took significant steps back this season in terms of their physical skills. When declining skills at key positions meets the departure of a force like Albert Haynesworth, bad things usually happen. And this year they did: the Titans dropped from 5th in sacks to 22nd. You can't blame that one on Nick Harper unless you're delusional.
Most of us here at MCM were guilty of looking at last year's individual performances as the new norm, forgetting that most NFL players have the same year-to-year consistency of an SNL writting staff: some year your highlight is "More Cowbell", and some years your highlight is "Gilly".
2: Jeff Fisher goes into prevent defense and runs the ball as soon as he gets ahead.
True, he does that. He also goes something like 50-2 with the lead in the 4th quarter (can't find the exact stat, but this was brought up during several broadcasts last year). The only coach that was better was a fella named Lombardi. So what is there to complain about? The NFL isn't all about running up sexy stats for you to talk smack with, it's about winning games. In recent years we've seen all kinds of passing and scoring records fall to teams that didn't hoist the Lombardi trophy.
3: Jeff Fisher's W/L record is insufficient.
Provided we win Sunday, in 14 full years at the helm Fisher has led us to exactly 4 sub .500 seasons. Since the team landed in Nashville full-time, we've only seen 3 of them, and all but one came after Floyd Reese's mismanagement of contracts led to the team being completely blown up in 2004 as 6 key veterans were released. Bud Adams isn't excatly know as the most posterboy for an NFL owner, but Fisher has successfully juggled all of this over and over again.
Now, for all of the recent struggles in the playoffs, can
4: Jeff Fisher has stunk in the playoffs since 2003
Now, it's true that the Titans haven't won a playoff game since 2003, and that hurts. However, in the two appearances you can't really act like he got out coached. The 2007 squad wasn't ready for prime-time yet, and Vince sure as heck wasn't ready to beat a more talented Chargers team in January. Last year's loss hangs squarely on (with a little help from that horrendous no-call on delay of game) fumbles by LenDale and Alge , and even they would probably tell you that. You hold a team to 13 points on your home turf, and you should win pretty much everytime. Even when CJ went down the staff adjusted and the game plan worked to a T.
5: Jeff Fisher doesn't like rookies, and we suffer because of that.
Other coaches who don't/didn't like starting rookies, especially at skill positions: Bill Belicheat, Bill Parcells, Jimmy Johnson, Tom Landry, Bill Walsh (except for the secondary in '81), Mike Ditka... you know why? Because rookies make bone-headed mistakes and often lack understanding and discipline. Despite what you may have heard, the NFL is more complicated than college ball, and very few guys can make that jump and help a team win right away. Sure, guys will make highlights, but they'll make a million important mistakes that announcers don't drool over either.