Two weeks ago after a 59-0 fiasco against the New England Patriots, Tennessee Titans owner Bud Adams said he would evaluate Coach Jeff Fisher’s job status as the end of the season.
Strong words from the 86-year-old owner who had seen his team fall to 0-6.
But after Sunday’s rebound 30-13 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Adams had seemingly softened his stance on the league’s longest-tenured coach, who still has two more years to run on his current contract after this season.
“He’s under contract here for several years. We just don’t let guys go earlier than their contracts [when it comes to] coaches,” Adams said of Fisher.
The owner had exercised his authority during the week, urging Fisher and his staff to replace Kerry Collins with Vince Young. That move paid at least short-term dividends Sunday as Young completed 15 of 18 passes for 125 yards and a touchdown as the Titans took their first victory of the season.
Adams said he simply needed to see if Young, who has a $14.2 million cap hit next year, still fit into the team’s plans beyond this year.
“I talked to Coach Fisher and said Collins is not doing as well as I thought he should be doing and we’ve got to find out about Vince because his contract is coming up for renewal,” Adams said.
“We’ve got to find out how he has developed in the last two years. He hasn’t played that much. We’ve got to get him in and find out what he can do. Otherwise, we’re gonna have a high draft choice, and we’d better be looking for another quarterback.”
One area where the Titans were decidedly better on Sunday was in the secondary where Cortland Finnegan returned to the lineup, as did Vincent Fuller, plus veteran Rod Hood got the start.
The Titans had been shredded for 300-yard passing games in five of their first six games this year, including once by David Garrard, but the secondary and the defense as a whole stood its ground Sunday against the pass.
Both Finnegan and Hood picked off Garrard, who was held to 14 of 27 passing for 139 yards and was sacked three times.
Defensive coordinator Chuck Cecil admitted that having veterans on the outside helped the Tennessee defensive to dictate the tempo against Garrard.
“A great deal of the success tonight started outside for us tonight started with Rod and Cortland, things that we needed to take away from them offensively, and we needed that” Cecil said. “With that, we were able to do other things defensively.”
Linebacker Keith Bulluck said the Titans were able to do some things differently than the first meeting vs. the Jaguars.
“We changed a lot of things up on our defense. We brought a little more pressure. We gave him some different looks,” Bulluck said. “We just didn’t line up and let him do what he wanted to do. He didn’t have such an easy time to sit there. That’s how I think he passed for 300 yards. We didn’t do anything to deter him from passing for 300 last time.”
Punter Brett Kern, claimed off waivers from the Denver Broncos, proved to be a major improvement over Reggie Hodges in his first game with the Titans.
Kern punted four times and averaged 48.3 yards per punt with a net of 43.3. Kern put three punts inside the 20, something Hodges did just once in four games with Tennessee as a replacement for injured Craig Hentrich.
His efforts drew the praise of Fisher.
“He did a tremendous job today,” Fisher said. “To step in, in the middle part of the week like we did and leave his wife and new baby at home in 27 inches of snow in Denver, to come in and punt like that was pretty impressive.”
Sending a message
Titans receivers had been plagued by dropped passes when Kerry Collins was at quarterback. But Vince Young sent them a message before Sunday’s game – literally a text message.
“For the receivers, I texted each last one of them. I said we are going to need you all tonight. We are going to need you catching the ball and blocking downfield,” Young said.