Lost behind his unflappable demeanor is the fact that Tennessee Titans’ coach Jeff Fisher is exceedingly competitive.
In other words, he likes to win. And throughout the years he has seemed to take great joy in getting the best of Tom Coughlin, the former coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars and current coach of the New York Giants.
He’ll get his next opportunity Sunday when the Titans travel to New York to face the Giants in their new stadium.
Fisher has won their last four meetings and has an 11-7 advantage all-time.
“Well we haven’t played the Titans in a few years,” Coughlin said. “There is definitely some changes and obviously some personnel that is different from the last time that we played.
“It is a basic Jeff Fisher team, and that part of it is recognizable. They have improved it and built upon their foundation and so those are where I recognize the changes.”
That last meeting took place in 2006, and Fisher’s team rallied from a 21-point, fourth-quarter deficit and won 24-21 behind then-rookie quarterback Vince Young.
Fisher famously took a dig at Coughlin and the Jaguars in his press conference the Friday before Super Bowl XXXIV when he referred to Jacksonville’s Alltel Stadium as one of five “home fields” the franchise had over a span of four seasons. That season Jacksonville lost just three games – all to the Titans and two of them, including the AFC championship, at Alltel.
“Well coach Coughlin has his own philosophy and they’re going to do what they do,” Fisher said. “He has a number of the coaches on his staff that have been with him before, but they different players — as I do.”
In his days with Jacksonville, Coughlin relied heavily on running back Fred Taylor. These days he has two backs, Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw, who share the load.
“Jacobs is a big, powerful, strong runner and he knocks people down, runs over people and Bradshaw can come out of anyplace,” Fisher said. “That is the concern.”
Fisher’s run game has been transformed from the power attack that was defined by Eddie George to one that features the big-play potential of Chris Johnson.
“He is a guy that you certainly have to point to if you are going to have a chance to win,” Coughlin said. “You have to find a way to try to slow him down a little bit. We have great respect for Chris.”
This week, Fisher and Coughlin have expressed a mutual respect for one another.
Each is 1-1 after a disappointing defeat last Sunday, which means each is desperate for a victory this week.
“Every game is important,” Coughlin said. “Every game deserves to have its own importance attached. We understand that it is the third week of the season, but every game that you play early on determines the progress and the eventual quality of the team that you have and how your team is going to play in all situations and how they are going to bounce back from difficult losses, adversity and that kind of thing.
“Without a doubt, this game is an important football game.”
Regardless of who is coaching.