After 16 years with the Oilers-turned-Titans, coach Jeff Fisher may not be back in 2011. Then again, maybe he will be back.
In a statement released by the team, owner Bud Adams explained that no decision has been made.
“I met for several hours today with Steve Underwood and [G.M.] Mike Reinfeldt about our organization and other decisions that are in front of us,” Adam said. “There are several things that need to be considered in this evaluation process, including Jeff’s history with our team, the labor situation and other challenges. I have been at this for a long time, and these decisions take time and thoughtful consideration. I will make the decisions that I feel are in the best interest of the team. I do understand the time element involved and would expect to make these decisions in the near future. In the meantime, I will continue to be in contact with Jeff and the senior staff for any additional information that I may need.”
Adams’ reference to the “labor situation” represents an acknowledgment of the reality that a new coach likely will have limited access to the team — and that the new coach may not even meet his players for the first time until September, with maybe a week or two to get ready for the season.
For his part, Fisher says he wants to stay. “I’ve said it time and time again, I want to finish my career here,” Fisher said at a Monday press conference, via Albert Breer of NFL Network.
The problem is that Fisher also has made it clear that he wants quarterback Vince Young to finish his career elsewhere, and that Adams wants Fisher and Young to coexist.
The chances of that remain slim; Jim Wyatt of the Tennessean reports that Young did not attend the final team meeting of the season. Even though Young is on injured reserve, all other players on IR attended.
In the end, this could play out in one of several ways. First, Adams could decide to fire Fisher. Second, Adams could tell Fisher that if he stays he has to accept Young as his quarterback, and that if Fisher doesn’t like it, Fisher can quit with no buyout for 2011, the last year of his current contract. In response, Fisher can quit or he can claim that his contract is being violated and file a grievance with the league office, possibly in an effort to leave with a buyout. Third, someone else can trade with the Titans for the final year of Fisher’s contract. Fourth, they can all hold hands and resolve to work together in an effort to win a Super Bowl next year.
We think it’s safe to rule out the last one.