Despite comments from owner Bud Adams saying he would review Coach Jeff Fisher’s status at season’s end, the Tennessee Titans coach insisted Monday that he is not in survival mode.
“I am looking forward to this week. I can’t wait to get started tomorrow and working through this week to try and help improve this football team,” Fisher said. “I’m not in any kind of survival mode or fearful of my job or concerned about job security whatsoever.
“I’m a coach and I’m going to do the best I can with this football team. I have a good coaching staff. I’ve got tremendous confidence in my coaching staff and tremendous confidence in the players that we’re going to get this turned around.”
Adams made the comments to a Nashville newspaper that it appeared that coaching was the problem for the team and that he would not make any immediate changes, but would wait until season’s end to see where the 0-6 Titans wind up.
Speculation regarding Fisher not being secure, despite two more years to run on his current contract spiked up in the aftermath of a record-setting 59-0 thrashing Sunday by the New England Patriots at snowy Gillette Stadium. The loss matched the worst margin of defeat in the AFL-NFL merger in 1970, matching the Atlanta Falcons futility in a 1976 loss to the Los Angeles Rams by that same score.
Fisher was asked if he expected any sort of face-to-face meeting with the 86-year-old owner regarding the team’s plight, but said he would keep details of any such scheduled meeting to himself.
“If there’s going to be any kind of discussion and communication between me and the owner, that’s between me and the owner,” Fisher said.
The coach and his beleaguered staff and team head into a bye week with an altered schedule filled with closed practices and limited media access to just one day this week – Wednesday.
“We’re going to relearn to throw and catch and block and tackle and kick and do all those things, and make plays and score points and try to do all those areas that need to be improved,” Fisher said. “I guess you could say starting over. This is an opportunity for us to start fresh, and that would mean there is the potential for minor roster changes, people moving in and out. We have a lot of things we need to discuss.”
As for the potential of questions about his job becoming a distraction, Fisher sidestepped the issue.
“There’s all kind of distractions in the National Football League. It’s how you deal with them,” Fisher said. “Injuries are a distraction. Off the field issues are a distraction. Quarterback controversies are a distraction. Head coaches job security are distractions. It all depends on how you deal with hit. It’s what you make of it.”
As for part of that equation, Fisher insisted he has no quarterback controversy between Kerry Collins and Vince Young. Collins was just 2 of 12 on Sunday for minus-7 yards, while Young mopped up and had one of his two passes intercepted.
“We’re going into the bye week and we’re going to work both of them,” Fisher said, citing “competitive advantage” as his reason for not revealing any potential switch from Collins to Young.
He did partially exonerate Collins’ play Sunday, citing several dropped passes by Titans receivers.
“The balls hit the receivers in the hands. They were good throws,” Fisher said. “It’s kind of unfair. The interception on the sideline to Nate [Washington], it was underthrown because he got hit. … You have to be careful when you’re judging the quarterback.”
Fisher said he was “not gonna create competition in the bye week to determine which quarterback to start against Jacksonville.”
As for lineup changes, Fisher said players aren’t necessarily on notice, but know that in a winless situation, that nothing is guaranteed.
“Everybody understands that when you’re in the situation we’re in, not that you’re expendable, but there is always the potential for change,” Fisher said.
One area that won’t change, however, is the status of first-year defensive coordinator Chuck Cecil, who has come under fire and declined to meet with the media after Sunday’s game. Fisher said he would not be taking over calling the defensive signals for Cecil, whom he remains confident in.
“He’s not playing out there. He’s not the one missing the tackle,” Fisher said. “He’s not the one not getting to the quarterback. He’s not the one giving up plays down the field or making mental mistakes.”