August did a post yesterday about some of the "misconceptions" surrounding Jeff Fisher. Today we will talk about how those "misconceptions" might not be misconceptions at all.
1: This was a Super Bowl caliber roster, and Jeff Fisher blew it.
I agree here with August. This was not a Super Bowl caliber roster, but the real question here is who is at fault for that. While I know that Jeff Fisher does not hold the title of general manager, most people who have inside knowledge of how the organization is run will tell you that Fisher does in fact call the shots. Now I know he has financial limitations, but outside of that he is responsible for the personnel decisions.
August wants to excuse him because a lot of the defensive players took steps backward because of age, but I am pretty sure that Fisher has access to their birth certificates. He should be able to figure out that having that many aging players on the same side of the ball is a recipe for disaster.
I don't blame Fisher for Albert Haynesworth leaving, but I do blame him for not forcing some defensive scheme changes early in the season because of it. My number 1 criticism of Fisher is that he is too slow to change the way he does things. He believes that his way is the only way until something like 0-6 forces him to re-think things. SuperHorn said it best in the comments on August's post:
I just felt that Fisher was reactive, not proactive. This defense doesn't work unless you can get pressure with the front 4. I'd like to think he could have identified that sooner.
This has always been a problem with Fisher. You don't have to look any further than his refusal to remove guys like Reynaldo Hill, Lamont Thompson, Justin McCareins, and Nick Harper from the starting lineup.
And let's not even talk about the fact that this team doesn't have a return man.2: Jeff Fisher goes into prevent defense and runs the ball as soon as he gets ahead.
August conceded this point, but then went on to say that it isn't a problem because he is so good at holding fourth quarter leads on the road. I agree that the 47-2 record is extremely impressive, but that is a road stat that doesn't tell us anything about the margin of the lead. I can think of a few games off hand at home that have been blown or sent to overtime because of his refusal to continue running the offense with a fourth quarter lead. I would also like to know the margin of the lead in those games. SuperHorn referenced the Football Outsiders post where Fisher wasn't in the top 10 in holding one score 4th quarter leads, and he added this from the FO post:
Turning our attention to head coaches, seven of the last 10 Super Bowls have been won by coaches who rank among the 10 best at holding a one-score, fourth-quarter lead (Table 3). Nine of the top 10 have either been to a Super Bowl or coached in multiple championship games, with the exception being Jim Haslett.
I think sometimes we lose the point that winning a Super Bowl is the ultimate goal here; not just being competitive year in and year out.
3: Jeff Fisher's W/L record is insufficient.
August's argument against this one:
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.
The goal in the NFL is to win a Super Bowl not rack up above .500 seasons. This team has been a legitimate Super Bowl contender 5 seasons in Fisher's 15 as coach.
4: Jeff Fisher has stunk in the playoffs since 2003.
I am not sure who argues this one. The Titans have only been in the playoffs twice since 2003 (that's the real problem) and neither loss was a result of coaching.
5: Jeff Fisher doesn't like rookies, and we suffer because of that.
Again, not the real problem. No one is saying that every draft pick, or even just the early round ones, should automatically be put on the field, but is a major problem when Kenny Britt is sitting on the bench while Justin Gage and Nate Washington start. I know Britt gets plenty of playing time, but the fact remains that the best receiver on the team is on the sideline in every two receiver set.
Another example that sticks out to me is Lavelle Hawkins. All we hear about is how he doesn't know where to line up, but anytime we see him on the field he is making plays. Someone in the huddle can help him get to his spot if it is that big of a problem. You think Peyton Manning doesn't do a lot of that?
The issue seems to be that we keep drafting guys that can't learn our scheme. Who is that on?
Honestly, I can't decide if I think it is time for Fisher to go or not, but I know that another season with the bone-headed decisions of this one will make it a no-brainer.