Plenty of NFL teams seek a powerful head coach who’s able to steer a team through choppy waters.
Jeff Fisher is one of those guys, and he’s weaker today because of his boss and his boss’ pet.
The Titans took the easy route and placed quarterback Vince Young on injured reserve Monday because of a torn flexor tendon in the thumb of his throwing hand, ending his season and shoving their glaring issue into a back drawer that they can ignore until later.
He should have been suspended or cut.
Even more disappointing than Young’s behavior after Sunday's loss (and his weak subsequent spin defending his actions) were owner Bud Adams’ comments to Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean.
Adams said Fisher and Young must find a way to get along. Then he showed that of all Young’s enablers, he’s the top dog.
“They are going to have to work together. I haven’t given up on Vince, and I am sure Fisher hasn’t either…”
“Vince is a young guy and a good player and he has never had an injury like this before, and it is getting to him. He told me he wanted to go back in the game, but the doctors didn’t think it would be a good idea. He was hurting, but he was going to play anyway.
“This will all go away pretty quick.”
Adams still talks about Young like a dreamy-eyed cheerleader watching the captain of the high school football team. I know the 87-year-old owner is detached as he lives in Houston and his team is in Nashville. But it’s sad, really, that he can be so out of touch. It’s as if he’s frozen in time five years ago.
Fisher is under contract, like Young, through 2011. Fisher said this afternoon that he intends to finish his coaching career with the Titans. (Here’s Wyatt’s report on Monday’s news conference.)
He’s hardly a perfect coach, though it would be a short list if you wrote down the guys in the NFL who qualify. He has been overly loyal to veterans, overly conservative in game planning and he’s unquestionably a playoff underachiever. He botched the whole Pacman Jones deal in a way that would have gotten a lot of guys fired, but he regained his balance.
Frankly, the league is designed to give any coach with his tenure close to a .500 record. Like him or not, at least half the teams in the league would trade their head coach for him.
You know what would help him change that record and improve those playoff accomplishments? The sort of top-flight quarterback he hasn’t had since Steve McNair.
On accusations he’s been unfair to Young, Fisher said: “All I’ve done here since Vince walked in the door is tried to make him be the best player he can be, and stood behind him and defended him from the get-go.” (Per @glennonsports.)
That’s true. As I said in this post, the Titans have been more patient with Young than any other team in the league would have been, but he doesn’t seem to recognize or appreciate it. Five years in and he’s still more about entitlement than work ethic or accountability.
Fisher deserves better backing from his boss, or the opportunity to leave if the owner is determined for Young to be the quarterback beyond this year.
If Young remains, that's like ordering Fisher to tread water, and won’t that be even more fun for fans? One of Fisher’s employees was insubordinate in front of all the rest and the boss’ solution is that they should kiss and make up. That doesn't make sense.
What's Young's incentive to fall in line with Fisher's expectations, now that it's perfectly clear that on his list of enablers Adams is the top dog?
With the Young issue in limbo, we move on to see what a mediocre team can do with its final six games, all the while knowing they must open that drawer and deal with what's in there after it's all over.