In what has to rank as one of the sloppiest divorces in recent NFL history, Jeff Fisher and the Titans are parting ways after all.
"The Tennessee Titans and Jeff Fisher have agreed to part ways and Fisher will no longer be the head coach of the team," said a release just issued by the team.
The parting was initially reported by SI.com's Don Banks.
Banks reported it’s unclear whether it will be couched as a firing, a mutual separation or a resignation.
Titans owner Bud Adams sounded every bit the 88-year-old owner to hear Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean tweet it before the announcement:
Just talked to #Titans owner Bud Adams about Jeff Fisher news "“Where did you hear that? I better check on that. I can’t talk about it now."
More Adams: " I really can’t talk about it now because I don’t know what’s been said. I want to see what is going on.’’ #titans
With Fisher’s remaining one-year salary of more than $6 million in play, Adams elected to retain his long-time coach earlier this month. That came after he announced the team would part ways with quarterback Vince Young, whose relationship with Fisher had become unmanageable.
I find it hard to believe Adams has changed his mind and will pay that salary to someone not working for him. My best guess is that they reached some sort of agreement in which Fisher will get some but not all of the money, and we will see him surface as a TV analyst for a season before becoming a candidate for open jobs in 2012.
Since the initial decision, Fisher has been operating as a lame duck. He lost highly regarded defensive line coach Jim Washburn to Philadelphia (though the Titans did offer him a three-year deal to remain) and running backs coach Craig Johnson to Minnesota.
Last week, Fisher surprisingly fired defensive coordinator Chuck Cecil, his close friend who The Tennessean reported actually signed his one-year contract offer late in a disastrous 2010 season.
Fisher has two NFL disciples who’ve gone on to success. Jim Schwartz is under contract as Detroit’s head coach. Gregg Williams is currently defensive coordinator in New Orleans, and while his stint as head coach in Buffalo was a failure, some strong coaches have fared better in their second chances.
But if Adams has a clean slate, he’d be wise to go a new direction as he looks for someone to take hold of a team in disarray, with no starting quarterback and, as far as we know, only offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger under contract in terms of a coaching staff. Heimerdinger was diagnosed with cancer and began treatment late in the season.
When the Titans let general manager Floyd Reese’s contract run out in January 2007, the team’s top executive, Steve Underwood, created a list of GM candidates and helped Adams sift through them. I suspect the winner of that job, one-time NFL defensive player of the year Mike Reinfeldt, who played for the Houston Oilers, likely would be asked to run a similar coaching search.
A top candidate could be someone he overlapped with during his stints as an executive in Green Bay and Seattle.