Jeff Fisher is no longer the coach of the Tennessee Titans.
A release from the team Thursday afternoon said: "The Tennessee Titans and Jeff Fisher have agreed to part ways and Fisher will no longer be the head coach of the team."
A press conference to address the situation will be held later in the evening or on Friday, the release said.
“After the season was complete, we had numerous discussions on the direction of the team and were pleased that we were moving forward with Jeff at the helm," the Titans said in a statement, attributed to no particular person. "Since that time, it became evident that consensus was increasingly hard to find and reality wasn’t matching the vision we discussed. It is unfortunate that this decision is coming at this juncture, but we believe that we have reached the point where change is in the best interest of both parties.
“We will start the head coaching search [Friday]. We expect to talk to a broad and diverse group of candidates. We are confident the coaching pool still has a number of quality candidates that can lead our football team.”
The franchise’s all-time winningest coach had his job security reaffirmed two weeks ago when owner Bud Adams said he planned to retain Fisher for a 17th season. It would have been the final year of his current contract and there was no indication that any sort of extension was in the works.
“I want to thank Mr. Adams and the organization for a special 17 years," Fisher said in a statement, also released by the team. "I can’t thank the fans enough for the support they showed us through the years; it has been a tremendous experience. We all did our very best and I think I can look back with fond memories and be very proud of what we accomplished. I want to wish the organization, the current players and the fans nothing but the best in the future.”
Days before his initial decision on Fisher, Adams announced the team intended to cut ties with quarterback Vince Young, who clashed with Fisher (sometimes publicly) over the years, particularly during the latter weeks of this season.
It was similar to four years earlier when Fisher won another perceived power struggle. Adams chose not to renew the contract of General Manager Floyd Reese following the 2006 campaign. Fisher and Reese had worked together since 1995.
It remains to be seen whether Adams changes his stance in regard to Young’s future with the organization.
Last week, defensive coordinator Chuck Cecil was told he would not return for the coming season, and two other long-time assistants, Jim Washburn and Craig Johnson, took jobs with other teams.
As executive vice president/head coach, Fisher had control over the makeup of his staff, but it was unclear whether those moves — directly or indirectly — were the result of any influence or interference from the owner.
“I gotta let it all sink in,” defensive end Jason Babin said on Sirius NFL Radio from the Pro Bowl. “It hurt me when my man left, [defensive line coach Jim] Washburn, and now my second guy [Fisher] leaves. It’s pretty crazy.”
Fisher had a 142-120 record in 16-plus seasons and was the NFL’s longest active tenured head coach for the past several seasons. He was promoted from defensive coordinator to interim head coach with six games to go in the 1994 season and officially was hired after that.
Fisher led the franchise to its only Super Bowl appearance, following the 1999 season, and guided his team back to the postseason five times in the next 11 years. The Titans’ last playoff victory was in 2003, though, and two years ago they were eliminated in the divisional round with a loss to Baltimore after they had the league’s best regular-season record.
Fisher's record was polarizing in that it included five 8-8 seasons. His supporters argued that he had just five losing seasons out of 16, whereas his detractors countered that he finished better than .500 just six times out of 16.
Either way, his teams were characterized by a emphasis on the run game (eight times they finished in the top 10 in the league and only twice were they outside the top 20) and the ability to stop the run on defense (a top 10 ranking in each of his first nine seasons).
“We will be forever appreciative of Jeff Fisher’s leadership and accomplishments through his time with our franchise," the Titans' statement said. "We reached some of our greatest heights and experienced some unforgettable moments during his tenure."