Titans players pack up, refuse to take sides between coach, QB

Monday, January 3, 2011 at 4:39pm

Jeff or Vince? Vince or Jeff?

Tennessee Titans’ players could not avoid the question as they cleaned out their lockers Monday afternoon, the day after they completed the season with a 23-20 loss at Indianapolis.

What they did avoid was giving a direct answer. Players expressed support for both the head coach (Jeff Fisher) and the quarterback (Vince Young) even as they acknowledged that the relationship between the two had an adverse effect on the season.

“Anytime you have a major impact player like that that kind of disappears, it’s kind of rough,” tight end Jared Cook said. “You have to go and get restarted and get the wheels turning again. It’s kind of rough.

“But things are going to happen during the course of the year that you have to fight through. Things are always going to happen.”

What happened between Fisher and Young was a very public straining of a relationship that was not exactly rock solid at the start.

Young stormed out of the locker room following an overtime loss to the Washington Redskins on Nov. 21 because he was upset that he was not allowed to return to play after he sustained a thumb injury in the second half.

That prompted Fisher to declare that the 2006 first-round draft pick had forfeited his role as the starter. A day later, the coach conducted a team meeting without Young, who later that week underwent season-ending surgery and was placed on injured reserve.

“It’s unique, I guess,” linebacker Will Witherspoon said. “At the same time, it’s a situation I think will work itself out. Nobody has to be involved with it. It’s nothing that can really be controlled by the rest of us around per se. It’s just a situation that’s going to have to be rectified.

“… I think it can happen. It just comes down to how the decisions are being made and understanding on both sides.”

If a choice is to be made, it will fall to owner Bud Adams, who has been a steadfast supporter of both.

Adams has retained Fisher as his coach significantly longer than any other in franchise history. In fact, Fisher has more victories than the five men who preceded him combined.

The owner, who lives and maintains his primary business in Houston (Young’s hometown), advocated the selection of Young in the 2006 draft and twice in four seasons called for him to be made the starter.

“All I know is that there was [a] rift, and the depth of it is between [Fisher] and [Young],” tight end Bo Scaife said. “That’s something you’re going to have to ask them.

“…Maybe we just didn’t handle it as well as we should have.”

Both the player and the coach have one year remaining on their current contracts.

Although the Titans have had just two winning seasons in the last seven (they went 6-10 this season) and have not won a playoff game since 2003, the players remained pointed in their support of the coach.

“Fisher is a great coach,” Witherspoon said. “I think everybody in this room respects him and wants him to be back here. Guys really look at it at the way he runs the show. That’s one of the things you definitely have to respect about him — he definitely knows how to manage the guys on a team and say, ‘Hey, this is who we are guys. This is what’s happening.’”

Added Scaife: “On the football side, you probably aren’t going to have a better coach in the league than Coach Fisher. Everyone around the league always talks about how much they miss playing for him and stuff like that. He’s loved all across the league by current and former players.”

Similar sentiments were shared for Young, who is 30-17 as a starting quarterback and who had his best passing numbers this season before he was hurt.

“I hope Vince comes back,” Cook said. “I think a lot of us have a lot of good chemistry with him. But you never know. They might bring in someone new.”

The general feeling among the fan base is that one of them has to go, although Adams is on record with his belief that they will have to settle their differences and work together again.

“I would like to see both of them back here,” running back Chris Johnson said. “It’s kind of strange, but that’s a situation I can’t be sitting around worrying about. … Wherever the ball falls, we’ll deal with it at that time.”

Scaife did offer one potential solution.

“The only cure for everything is winning,” he said. “If this time next year the Titans are in the Super Bowl and [Young] is the quarterback, then he won’t have to think about all this other stuff.”

6 Comments on this post:

By: Melstruck on 1/3/11 at 4:07

The problem Bud Adams has now is that if he keeps one over the other, he validates the behavior of the one he keeps. That could create a monster. Imagine VY knowing Bud has his back, no matter his tantrums and pouting. Or Fisher knowing he doesn't have to work with a player he doesn't like for whatever reason. Bud either has to keep both or get rid of both.

By: govskeptic on 1/3/11 at 5:43

The players work for the coach, not the other way around!
Owners usually know that, this one, I'm not so sure!

By: MetalMan on 1/4/11 at 5:49

Need to let Fisher go and hire a disciplinarian and seasoned coach - like Bill Cowher, then put Young on the auction block and sell him. Then get a promising, MENTALLY STABILE QB recruit to understudy Kerry Collins. Then we'll be on the road to recovery.

By: jwk6179 on 1/4/11 at 9:51

The problem with putting Vince Young on the auction block is that you may not find many takers for him. And the teams that are willing to take Viince Young won't be willing to offer a lot for him, at least not as much as BUD THINKS VINCE IS WORTH.

By: wayneCaluger on 1/4/11 at 4:16

Need to let Fisher go and hire a disciplinarian and seasoned coach - like Bill Cowher, then put Young on the auction block and sell him. Then get a promising, MENTALLY STABILE QB recruit to understudy Kerry Collins. Then we'll be on the road to recovery.

Got that backwards if you want a coach of Cowher quality. Cut VY loose, let the dust settle and then make a coaching change. If Fisher leaves first no matter the spin or if VY goes every potential coach will know Buds tweeting QB forced Fisher out and down the road they know its a 50-50 deal when it comes to Bud backing a coach over a player be it VY or someone else.

Prior to the VY blow up Bud already had a history that would scare off all but aspiring young or expiring old over the hill coaches. Bud has the big vote when it comes to selecting players basing his pick more on where they played collage football (we have five from U Texas--more from one university than any other NFL team) rather than who the coaches want to fill a need. In the case with VY they had to redesign the offense creating an even bigger problem when he gets hurts and a back goes in.

Bud will spend the bucks when it comes to one of his U-Texas player like $14 next year for VY but sit on his wallet regardless if they are not a U-Texas alumni. When he throws good money at non U-Texas alumni like Pacman he hangs on to them as long as he can to get every dime he can before giving the signal to pull the trap door regardless how much damage that player does to the whole team.

By: dangerlover on 1/5/11 at 2:09

Respectfully, Wayne, you're wrong. The Chicago Bears also have 5 players from 1 University on their roster. (From Vanderbilt, no less.)

I don't disagree with much of your sentiment though.