Many people will say that this hire of Jeff Fisher shows a commitment to winning, however, I'd like to state my belief that it is only a commitment to winning in the eyes of lazy journos and unknowledgeable fans.
Jeff Fisher posted, during 16 years of Head Coaching the Oilers/Titans, only 6 winning seasons. He also had 6 losing seasons, and 4 seasons finishing with an 8-8 record.
How does this signify a commitment to winning or getting better?
It is equally troubling that people will accept such an unspectacular record due to the sheer length of time he was head coach in Tennessee. If you head coach for 16 seasons, you would expect there to be at LEAST 6 winning seasons. Purely from the law of averages, and my most basic grasp of it, you'd expect that such a tenure would wield those results at the least.
Of course, this argument over his winning record can be countered with a qualitative approach, such as looking at the fact that he shared a division with Peyton Manning for the majority of his seasons as Head Coach of the Titans, and that he had to coach through the unquestionably difficult times that being a relocating franchise had.
However, what was used as a counter to likewise qualitative assessments of Spagnuolo's tenure as HC of the Rams? His win record. The adage that 'the only thing that matters is winning' (which is what I ascribe to) meant that Spagnuolo had to be fired. I do not see how following this adage means that Fisher had to be the hire.
In the Playoffs as of Divisional weekend, we see only 3 coaches that had prior Head Coaching experience before their current jobs; Belicheck, Coughlin and Fox. The others are first timers in McCarthy, Peyton, Kubiak, Harbaugh and Harbaugh. The number of Superbowl winning Head Coaches between these two factors is split 50/50 with BB and Tom Coughlin being the 'experienced, prior HCs' with rings, while McCarthy and Peyton are the owners of rings for the 'first time HC group'.
What this goes to prove is that it is entirely ignorant to state that there is any advantage to being an 'experienced Head Coach' when looking for someone to rejuvenate a franchise. It proves nothing, except dents your wallet more. There are of course benefits, such as an established network of relationships, knowledge of what you will get with regards to management etc. and these are undoubted, however, we also know that we are likely to see what we have already seen from that coach.
In this case, what we've seen from Fisher is complete mediocrity, even with regards to Offensive and Defensive rankings throughout his tenure. They fluctuate a great deal from great to awful, and as such it appears to be ignorant to say that 'he always builds stingy defenses'. The fact is, is that he simply does not. The fact is, is that his approach to football has always been the '3 yards and a cloud of dust' approach. The fact is, is that this is a passing league. The fact remains, that in this league, running the ball and eating up time of possession and playing sound defense etc. has little bearing on the outcome of the game. What decides games in this league is your passing offense and your turnover ratio. If you can score points, not turn the ball over, move the ball through the air and get 2 to 3 turnovers in a game, you will win. You can run the clock on teams like Green Bay, New Orleans and New England all you want, but at the end of the day, if you can't stop their QB from beating you with a potent passing attack, you cannot win.
Now, with regards to John Fox, we have seen a small miracle with regards to the way in which he has adjusted the team to suit his ethos aswell as the personnel at his disposal. He has given his Co-Ordinators the free reign to shift the team around and it has paid dividends, essentially making a winner of the most laughable attempt at a QB I have ever seen. My problem with Fisher is not so much the archaic approach to football, but more the historic evidence of his inability to adapt.
He may not have wanted Vince Young, but you do not hurt your team because you didn't want a player. He was forced to start VY after an 0-6 start, and they finished 8-8. Why is a coach FORCED to make a change after an 0-6 start by ownership? Therein lies the issue. Until the drafting of Kenny Britt in 09, the team consistently had the worst WR group in the NFL, and the position was repeatedly maligned. Yes, drafting Chris Johnson was made to look genius by the results (statistically), however, it did not address the glaring need of WR the team had. Fortunately, in retrospect, the Titans lucked out as WR was historically bad that year, but this does not atone for the many years prior in which WR was maligned (exactly 10 years since the drafting of Kevin Dyson in the 1st round).
Further demonstration of an unwillingness to change is the repeated playing of veteran players despite the season being lost. A common complaint of Titans fans was that it was incredibly frustrating to see the retaining and continued play of underperforming veterans due to a loyalty Fisher held towards them. Essentially, there was little to no accountability in the latter stages of his reign, and youth development was limited due to the established 'good ol boys club' mentality that was evident throughout the Titans facility.
We can talk about statistics all we want, but at the end of the day, the biggest problems I have with the Jeff Fisher hire is the evidence that his approach is archaic and he lacks the ability to adjust when it is painfully obvious it is needed.
"You can't teach an old dog new tricks" springs to mind, and concerns me.
We can all hope, and I certainly will, that he does change and brings with him excellent Co-Ordinators and Positional Coaches that can make this team better, however, I remain disappointed the team did not hire someone who could make Sam Bradford the elite franchise QB he has the ability to be.
I'd have much preferred to see an Offensive Minded Coach, such as Chud, come in and build an offense with Sam they way that Sean Peyton did with Drew Brees. This means that there would be sustained continuity throughout both HC and QBs career, as a Head Coach cannot be poached the way that an Offensive Co-Ordinator can. Hiring an Offensive Minded HC would be the statement of intent and the declaration of a commitment to winning and Sam Bradford that could get me excited about the future of the team.
Currently, this Jeff Fisher hire is tantamount to keeping Spagnuolo and replacing Spagnuolo's selfless and accountable approach to roster management with an ability to manage the clock.
All of the complaints bar the clock management we had of Spags will become painfully evident in the upcoming season, and unless we see a John Fox level of adjustment and quality of coaching, the end results will be similar.
This hire reeks of media and fan appeasement as opposed to any form of statement of intent towards becoming a dominant franchise.
Fisher selecting the Rams over Miami shows that we were in fact more desperate for the name recognition and 'respect' the hire would bring than they were and it is my belief that we in fact 'lost' in this tussle over Fisher due to the reports of Fisher being unhappy with the lack of control over the roster he would have there.
Not to say I told you so, but I will anyway: I last made a post like this about Josh McDaniels, despite facing a maelstrom of claims that I was wrong... time unfortunately proved me right in the end and I can only hope that it swings the other way around this time around.
It seems that we here on Turf Show TImes expect things that are not certain, and conveniently disregard plainly obvious things with the HOPE that it will change in STL.