Boclair: Five years or nothing

Monday, September 19, 2011 at 3:36pm

One yard short led to too much time.

The image of Kevin Dyson being tackled just shy of the goal line in the Georgia Dome on Jan. 30, 2000, was so vivid that Tennessee Titans owner Bud Adams — and, I suspect, a majority of fans — remained convinced for the next decade that the franchise was tantalizingly close to getting its first Super Bowl championship.

A little look at history, though, and it should have been clear that the Titans never were going to get any closer under Fisher. We now know that was the case, thanks to the clarity of hindsight.

Mike Munchak … the clock is ticking.

Yes, he is just two games into his tenure as head coach but if he is going to be the one who delivers a Super Bowl victory to Adams, it is going to have to happen sooner rather than later.

Five years, in fact, is all he has. Actually, that’s pretty much all anyone has.

Just look at all the Super Bowl champions over the past 30 years and it becomes perfectly clear that coaches win within the first five years — or not at all.

All those who hoisted the Lombardi Trophy from the 1980 season through last fall — there are 20 of them, to be exact — did so at least once within their first five years on their respective jobs. The latest, Green Bay’s Mike McCarthy, was in his fifth season. Before him were New Orleans’ Sean Payton (fourth), Pittsburgh’s Mike Tomlin (second), the New York Giants’ Tom Coughlin (fourth) and Indianapolis’ Tony Dungy (fifth).

The lone exception in that group is Pittsburgh’s Bill Cowher, who toiled through 13 seasons before he finally made it happen in his 14th. He did get the Steelers to the Super Bowl in his fifth year on the job, though.

The greatest of the modern-day coaches, Bill Belichick, won his first in his second season and had three championships within his first five years. It now has been six years since his last.

Belichick, Dungy and Jon Gruden (Tampa Bay, first year) all needed a second franchise to make it happen, but the five-year rule held true. Belichick, for example, came up empty in five years with the Cleveland Browns, who knew enough to let him go after that time. Gruden did not get it done in four years with Oakland but pulled it off in his first year with the Buccaneers.

Think of all the other big names in that group who have been carried off the field on the shoulders of their players: Bill Walsh first did it in his third year with San Francisco; Jimmy Johnson was in his fourth with Dallas when he got the Cowboys back to the top; Mike Shanahan was in Year 3 with Denver; Bill Parcells needed four years to get it done with the Giants for the first time; and Washington’s Joe Gibbs first won it all in his second season.

Heck, the man for whom the trophy is named — Vince Lombardi — needed just three years to turn the Green Bay Packers into NFL champions back in the days when there was no Super Bowl.

The good news for Munchak is that two of his AFC South counterparts, Houston’s Gary Kubiak (sixth year) and Jacksonville’s Jack Del Rio (ninth year), have missed their opportunities. So as long as they remain in place, it seems safe to say they loom as no legitimate roadblocks for Tennessee.

Fisher, by the way, got the Titans to the Super Bowl in his fifth full season on the job. So he too was right on schedule as far as that goes.

Everything that followed was just a waste of time. 

David Boclair is sports editor/senior writer of The City Paper. Follow him on Twitter @BoclairSports or email him a dboclair@nashvillecitypaper.com


3 Comments on this post:

By: serr8d on 9/20/11 at 5:45

Nice analysis you have there, DB. As a Fish supporter, to the bitter end, I suppose that I must concede the point; he was around for too long. But the legacy he left for Munchak is a solid platform for him to build on. There's roots there that don't need removing.

But I miss the mustache on the sideling. Not one of those players or coaches could ever do a better one, I'll warrant.

By: BigPapa on 9/20/11 at 8:51

Fisher got screwed over by two terrible draft picks. They totally blew the VY and Pacman picks. Those are two very high picks that address VERY important positions. Those two areas should have been locked down for a good 5-8 years, instead neither guy is on the team and one is a 3rd stringer and I dont even know if pac is in the NFL any more.

By: slim53 on 9/21/11 at 1:49

BigPapa, you're right on one of them and that would be VY. He was Bud's pick and that turned out to be disasterous but Pacman was strickly Fisher's boy. Fisher thought he could handle Pac but there was no way. Even as messed up as Pacman was we could have overcome his draft pick but VY trying to be a NFL quarterback was never going to happen. He didn't have the brains or the arm for the position. He could run but that was it. So in a way Bud sealed Fisher fate by making him stick with Young who never had a possibilty of succeeding to the level of a Super Bowl.