Jeff Fisher: 10 Teams That Should Dump Their Coaches and Grab Him
Way to pull the ol' switcheroo on us, Bud Adams.
The latest word out of Music City is that Jeff Fisher, the longtime head coach of the Tennessee Titans, whose reign dates back to when the franchise was still the Houston Oilers, is out. It's not known yet whether this will be called a firing, a quitting, or spun as some sort of wishy-washy 'mutual parting of ways', but anyway you slice it, it means one thing for the rest of the league.
One of the most experienced head coaches in the NFL is available.
While there are no longer any head coaching vacancies (other than the one his exit just created in Tennessee), you can be sure that other teams' owners and GM's will be thinking long and hard about their current situations in the wake of this news.
Here is a quick list of 10 teams that could use a coaching shot in the arm.
10) Philadelphia Eagles
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Andy Reid hasn't been around as long as Jeff Fisher, but he's the only other current head coach who comes close.
He's been at the helm of the Eagles ship since 1999, and while they've certainly been a perennial contender during that time, with five NFC East championships and a trip to the Super Bowl back in the 2004 season.
But they lost that game to the New England Patriots, and haven't been back since, losing in the Wild Card round each of the last two years. Even with Donovan McNabb gone, they still haven't been able to shake the stigma that they're always a team that's just good enough to not win it all.
Without the quarterback as the scapegoat anymore, maybe it's time they looked at their coach.
9) Jacksonville Jaguars
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The Jags have only had two head coaches in their 16 year history, Tom Coughlin and Jack Del Rio. But for all their stability, it hasn't translated into an abundance of success.
They've managed just two playoff appearances in the last 11 seasons, and this past year was especially disappointing. They stood in first place at 8-5 with just three weeks to play, but a loss to their annual tormentors, the Colts, was the start of a season ending three game skid that left them at 8-8, and on the outside of the playoff picture looking in.
Del Rio has had chances with teams led by Byron Leftwich and Fred Taylor, and now teams led by David Garrard and Maurice Jones-Drew. That's a lot of chances squandered. Plus, Jeff Fisher would come with the added bonus of already being familiar with the division, as the Titans are also in the AFC South.
It's worth consideration, at least.
8) Arizona Cardinals
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Just a few years ago, the Arizona Cardinals were one of the hot, up-and-coming teams in football.
Ken Wisenhunt had changed a decade long culture of losing, stretching back to the franchise's days in both St. Louis and Chicago, and rode the arm of quarterback Kurt Warner to back-to-back playoff appearances, including bringing them within minutes of winning Super Bowl XLIII.
But Warner's retirement after the 2009 season foreshadowed a major regression in the team's fortunes. Other stars, like Anquan Boldin and Antrel Rolle, followed Warner out the door, and Wisenhunt was revealed to be only as good as the players around him as the team stumbled back to earth with a 5-11, last place season.
Now, the team again finds itself in desperate need of a new identity. Fisher would certainly provide one.
7) Houston Texans
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Tell me if this is starting to sound like a broken record. The Texans had their early hopes of a successful season dashed this year by a collapse down the stretch. After starting 4-2, they went just 2-8 after their bye week, and sunk to the bottom of the AFC South standings.
This was after you would have expected to see some serious forward momentum on their part in 2010, coming off the first winning season in franchise history in 2009, and sporting an offense that has ranked in the top four in the league in yards for the last three seasons.
But their defense let them down this year, ranking 29th in points allowed and 30th in yards. Houston has already hired Wade Phillips to revamp the defense, but perhaps that's not going far enough. Gary Kubiak seems like an amicable fellow, but has never shown the killer instinct required to be a great NFL head coach.
Besides, it would provide Jeff Fisher with a nice little coda on his coaching career to return to Houston where it all began.
6) San Diego Chargers
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Was there a more disappointing team in the entire league in 2010 than the San Diego Chargers?
Not because they were such a bad team, but because they were such a good team. And once again, they did nothing with it. Really, they've been one of the best teams in the NFL since 2004, but all they have to show for it is three first round playoff losses, and no Super Bowl appearances.
2010 unfolded much the same way as other recent seasons. Stumbling out of the gate (they started 2-5), San Diego executed a furious late season charge (winning 6 of 7) to put themselves back in the picture. Only this time, they couldn't dig themselves all the way out, with a disheartening loss to Cincinnati in week 16 dooming them to their fate.
The team was also wracked this season with internal turmoil and off-the-field strife. Longtime defensive stalwart Shawne Merriman was let go after expressing his discontent with his status on the team, and star wideout Vincent Jackson held out most of the season in a contract dispute.
Norv Turner hasn't built this team as a cohesive whole, and they continue to struggle, despite ranking first in the league in total offense AND defense. That's inexcusable. Jeff Fisher to the rescue.
5) Oakland Raiders
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The Raiders inclusion on this listing has absolutely nothing to do with my having anything against newly promoted Hue Jackson, who was recently tabbed to take over as the head coach to replace the departed Tom Cable.
Jackson's a football lifer who deserves this chance, having served as an assistant with five different NFL teams, five college programs, and even serving a tour of duty in the World League (since re-branded NFL Europe).
This is more about the Raiders as a franchise, one that has been consistently mismanaged in recent years by ever more eccentric owner Al Davis. If Jeff Fisher has a reputation for one thing, it's stability, and that's something Oakland hasn't enjoyed much of lately.
They made good strides this season to changing that image, but their tenuous foothold on respectability has yet to fully materialize. Someone like Fisher might bring that extra bit of credibility they still need.
4) Cincinnati Bengals
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Marvin Lewis is another one of the longer tenured head coaches in the NFL, and he enjoyed some early successes during his first few years at the helm, but the honeymoon has long since ended.
In recent seasons, the Bengals have been the only rival to the Raiders as the biggest train wreck in the league. They've led the league in arrests and bad publicity, and despite boasting talented stars like Carson Palmer and Chad Ochocinco, endured their worst season under Lewis in 2010, and still haven't won a playoff game in 20 years.
They need to clean house. Trade Ochocinco, let Palmer find his happiness somewhere else (and get some good draft picks in return), and rebuild the coaching staff. Fisher would be an intriguing place to start.
3) Miami Dolphins
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The Dolphins continue to operate in an almost constant state of flux.
They have nobody they trust to run the offense behind center, Ricky Williams has burned his bridges on his way out the door, firing salvos directly at head coach Tony Sparano, among others, and they're stuck in a division with teams like the New England Patriots and New York Jets, neither of which shows any signs of letting Miami up for air anytime soon.
They've been flailing trying to make that big move to change the momentum of the franchise for years now. Nick Saban didn't want to stay, and Bill Parcells' heart hasn't seemed to be in it. Jeff Fisher wouldn't exactly bring much new to the table, but at least he wouldn't carry the baggage that anyone associated with this organization over the last decade or so seems to have.
Hey, nothing else they've done has worked.
2) Buffalo Bills
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When you think about it, the Bills and the Dolphins actually have a good deal in common.
They both enjoyed golden eras 20 or so years ago, Miami with Don Shula and Dan Marino, while Buffalo had Marv Levy, Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas, and Andre Reed. Both teams were at the top of the AFC East for a long time, but neither team could quite get over that final Super Bowl hurdle.
And both teams have been pretty much wandering in the wilderness since then. The Bills haven't made the playoffs since 1999, and have used eight different starting quarterbacks and had six different head coaches during that time.
In his first year at the helm in Orchard Park, Chan Gailey took the franchise in the wrong direction. They started 0-8 en route to a 4-12 finish, and gave up the most rushing yards in the game.
Gailey got his chance in Dallas over a decade ago and couldn't last, why would things be different here?
1) Detroit Lions
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The bigger question here is whether Jeff Fisher would even be willing to approach the black hole that has set up permanent residence at Ford Field?
How bad have things been in Detroit? Their six wins this season were triple the number of wins they had managed in their previous two seasons combined. They're 39-121 over their last decade. They've become so irrevocably associated with failure that there's been serious talk about stripping them of their traditional Thanksgiving Day host status.
Jim Schwartz has made the best of a bad situation with the Lions. But with a oft-injured star quarterback, rebuilding has stalled. They do have a promising young defensive line featuring the likes of Ndamukong Suh, but things haven't really been able to gel under Schwartz's regime.
Sure, Fisher would be a reach, an attempted quick fix via a big name, but at this point, any fix is better than none at all.