For Titans to win a Super Bowl, Fisher has to go

Monday, February 1, 2010 at 1:45am

As an NFL coach, Jeff Fisher is a winner. And a survivor. And a bit of an enigma. But what he won’t be is the winning coach when the Titans hoist a Super Bowl trophy — at least that what the numbers tell us.

While Fisher has just completed his 16th year at the helm of Tennessee’s ship, what he, owner Bud Adams, and Titans fans should be aware of is that only one NFL coach has won a Super Bowl after 16 years with one team. That was Tom Landry, the legendary Dallas Cowboys coach, who over a 28-year tenure captured NFL’s top prize in his 11th and 17th seasons.

And in examining the records of NFL coaches who have put in 10 years or more with one team, only one other has won a Super Bowl after his 11th season — Bill Cowher in his 14th and final season with the Pittsburgh Steelers. In fact, looking at 20 Super Bowl-winning coaches with at least a decade at the helm shows that most took home the prize within the first six years on the job.

It really feels like the play called against the Rams in the Titans’ only Super Bowl appearance was destined to get Kevin Dyson into the end zone, not a yard short. The “numbers script” says it was Fisher’s time — it was his sixth season with the franchise.

So now, the numbers say Fisher can’t go that extra yard unless he can match the great Landry, which I don’t believe he or any other coach in this situation can do. Landry hovers near the top of EA Sports’ recent list of the 25 Greatest NFL Coaches where it should be. Fisher’s name is absent.

For all the debating about his place among NFL coaches, longevity aside, Fisher’s resume is spotty and quite front-loaded. He won an AFC Championship and five playoff games in his first nine seasons, which was impressive considering the move from Houston to Nashville via Memphis, but he has won no postseason games in his last six seasons. And as the master of the 8-8 season, he has compiled just 7 winning seasons as a head coach.

You might say this past season’s 0-6 start and 8-2 finish mirrors the schizophrenic career of the head coach — only in reverse. But it got Fisher a contract extension, when walking papers might have been in order. He undoubtedly is this highest-profile sports figure in Nashville and he has never wavered in his commitment to the team, the owner, the players and the city, which makes talk of his dismissal difficult and controversial.

But like I mentioned earlier, just look at the numbers.

Start with New England’s Bill Belichick, who won Super Bowls in his 2nd, 4th and 5th seasons with the Patriots; nothing in his last five. Chuck Noll won four Super Bowls in his storied 23-year stint with the Steelers (in seasons 6, 7, 10 and 11), but had only two playoff wins in his last 12 seasons.

The illustrious Don Shula won the top prize in his third and fourth seasons with the Miami Dolphins, then went 22 years without another one. Kansas City Chiefs’ Hank Stram won a Super Bowl in his 7th season there, but made just one playoff appearance in his last seven. Joe Gibbs won three with the Redskins (seasons 2, 7 and 11) and shot blanks over his last five seasons.

Mike Ditka led the Chicago Bears to the title in his fourth year, then went seven without. Oakland’s John Madden won in his eighth year; Giants’ Tom Coughlin in his fourth.

Some coaches with more than 10 years of experience but with more than one team still won early. Mike Holmgren’s Packers were Super in his seventh season, but he came up empty for 13 years [10 in Seattle]. Dick Vermeil’s Rams took the trophy away from the Titans in his third year with St. Louis; his 10th overall. George Seifert won two Super Bowls with the 49ers [seasons 1, 6] before struggling in Carolina.

The most efficient was Bill Walsh, who won three Super Bowls in 10 years with the 49ers and walked away.

For Fisher, the one glimmer of light beaming off the Super Bowl trophy comes via Dan Reeves, who while he didn’t win a Super Bowl with Denver or Atlanta, did get to his last one after coaching for 18 years.

But it seems the NFL’s grand prize is going to younger and younger coaches. Just look at the coaches who graced the sidelines last year, and will be pacing there this Sunday — Jim Caldwell [in his first year with the Colts], Mike Tomlin [won last year in just his second season with Pittsburgh], Ken Whisenhunt [third with Cardinals] and the “veteran” Sean Payton in his fourth year with New Orleans.

So as the months peel off the Titans calendars, fans remain optimistic that a Super Bowl trophy will one day find its way to Nashville. It’s just that the odds of Fisher bringing it here aren’t very good.


14 Comments on this post:

By: TITAN1 on 2/1/10 at 5:36

TitansFan035, is that you? LOL!

By: house_of_pain on 2/1/10 at 6:35

Translation: blah, blah, blah...

By: NGNG34 on 2/1/10 at 7:21

Fisher is a good coach, however he has two glaring weaknesses. He is awful at handling players with injuries. He shortened the careers and limited the effectiveness of guys like McNair, George, and perhaps Vanden Bosch by putting them on the field when they were injured. A coach cannot ask a player if he can or should play; the player is going to say yes whether he should or not! The coach has to be able to make that call on his own. In addition, Fisher is a players' coach. I can remember Fisher getting in the face of only one player during a game and that player was Pacman Jones. Pacman is an exception in many ways. Playing for Jeff Fisher means never having to worry about being pulled from or chewed out during a game. This is why almost every time the Titans have lost a big game it was due to things like turnovers, penalties, and mental errors. Is it correct to state the Titans will never win a Super Bowl with him as coach? Maybe, maybe not. As I said, he is a good coach, certainly in the top half of those in the game today. If Dinger leaves the team is sunk; he is the only OC who has been able to bring some unpredictability to Fisher's usual Rockette offense (1-2-3-kick, 1-2-3-kick). In addition a strong and vocal veteran presence would help bring some accountability to the team; accountability that is lacking with Fisher at the helm.

By: frank brown on 2/1/10 at 7:39

This is the age of reading anything into any situation that suits your purpose.
This is the age of reading and justifying any position you wish by how you perceive the situation. This writer shows how it is done. I on the other hand make a case that the Titans/Oilers have not won a Super Bowl in the over 50 year history no matter who the coach or how long his tenure is or was.

I say through my vantage point that they will never win a Super Bowl as long as Bud Adams is the owner.

Now there are two opinions. One just as goofy as the other.

By: jwk6179 on 2/1/10 at 8:13

The writer is proving his points BASED ON STATS, FACTS and HISTORY.

By: NashvilleEnglish on 2/1/10 at 8:19

by this insanely stupid logic, the next time the Titans make the playoffs, Fisher shouldn't grow a playoff beard b/c maybe no one has ever won the Super Bowl after wearing a mustache all year and then changing to a beard for the playoffs.

By: cmarcus45 on 2/1/10 at 8:57

There must be better things for Mr. Troia to do. This is stupid.

By: real_frank_brown on 2/1/10 at 9:21

To "frank brown;"
Please go back to using your other posting name here "richgoose" and stop using "frank brown" ; a name you have admitted is not yours, and one that when you post with, some of your statements cause detriment to my name. Thank you.
Frank Brown

By: fdanshep on 2/1/10 at 10:51

OK Mr. Troia, you seem to have it all figured out. Now tell us about your credentials; who are you? What is your background in the opinionating business? How many games have you attended in the last 10 years?

If Jeff goes, who are you going to suggest to replace him? It is sometimes very useful to use statistiics to justify or formulate a position, but your entire theorem is a waste of good space.

If Jeff is a less than adequate coach, Bud should fire him on that basis. Not because of some poppycock that you are bombasting!

By: wayneCaluger on 2/1/10 at 11:03

Changing coaches with Bud calling the shots would most likely not change anything. When it comes to owners like Bud and Al Davis good coaches don't need to tarnish their resume for any amount of money, so most likely the best you could get is an young upstart. Doubtful he could attract any establish assistants.

While loyalty is not a bad thing in a business like the NFL getting to close players and assistant coaches sometimes makes changing players or looking outside the organization to replace an assistant hard when you let your heart overrule your head.

When you bring in a new good coach and they have an owner who will support them by staying out of decisions and open up the purse do whatever it takes there is a house cleaning of staff and players generally putting the team into at least playoff contention. Heart over head gets you a burned out Kerse, putting Harper back in replacing a DB who got more interceptions in three games than Harper got all season, sticking with the likes of Pac man and promoting assistant coaches no other team would hire as an assistant much less as their DC.

NGNG34: He shortened the careers and limited the effectiveness of guys like McNair, George, and perhaps Vanden Bosch by putting them on the field when they were injured. As for Eddie running backs don't have a long life span in the NFL

McNair career was cut short due running an offense requiring using his legs much like what will happen to VY. The bigger issue with McNair was he was in so much pain he couldn't practice making receiver timing more difficult on game day. This is why O'Donnell and Voleck did better in the passing game when Steve couldn't start. No matter how good a healthy player might be starting them with no practice and less than healthy helps neither. Giving in to their selfish demand is not using your head for the player or the team.

By: FAMUAce on 2/1/10 at 11:24

Troia: "For Fisher, the one glimmer of light beaming off the Super Bowl trophy comes via Dan Reeves, who while he didn’t win a Super Bowl with Atlanta, did get there after coaching for 18 years."

Point of information. Dan Reeves took his teams to FOUR Super Bowls: Three with Denver (Remember all of those blowouts in the late 80s) and one with Atlanta.

Secondly, I am lukewarm on Fisher right now. His decision-making and evaluation of talent as of late have been suspect as hell. However, he does get his players to play hard, even if they are playing wrong.

By: TITAN1 on 2/1/10 at 1:22

Playing wrong? LOL!

By: house_of_pain on 2/1/10 at 4:57

jwk, the only way for the point to be proven is if Fisher goes elsewhere before winning a SB. As long as he's still here, the statistics are N/A.

By: TitansFan035 on 2/2/10 at 12:15

Ahhhhh i feel the love!! Fire Fisher!!