Titans to keep Fisher four more years
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) ” Titans owner Bud Adams said more than a year ago that coach Jeff Fisher wouldn’t be going anywhere. On Monday, the NFL’s longest-tenured coach with his current team said he hopes to finish his career in Tennessee.
Adams picked up the 2007 option on Fisher’s contract at the end of last season when the Titans rallied from an 0-5 start to finish 8-8, and an extension had been expected since then. Fisher said they finally worked out the last details last week.
“Never at any time was I of the opinion it was not going to get done,” Fisher said. “What was most important to me was the team and the players and winning games.”
The deal through 2011 is thought to be worth $5.5 million to $6 million per year.
Fisher is in his 13th season with the franchise that used to be the Houston Oilers. Promoted from defensive coordinator to interim head coach in November 1994, he was given the title after that season ended. He coached his 200th regular season game in Sunday’s 22-20 loss to Indianapolis.
Only 10 men have coached more games with one NFL team than Fisher, and he can tie Hank Stram at 210, including the playoffs, this week at New Orleans. He ranks sixth among active coaches for most career wins with 111.
“I have never even considered leaving,” Fisher said. “I’m enjoying living here, enjoy coaching here. It was never a consideration. Hopefully, I can finish my coaching career here.”
He is 18-32 since the team’s last playoff berth and winning record in 2003.
But the Titans have won seven of their last nine games going back to last season when they rallied to finish one victory shy of a playoff berth with Offensive Rookie of the Year Vince Young.
Fisher credited Adams with being patient through those struggles. The Titans went from a team that lost 17-14 at New England in a divisional playoff in January 2004 to a 4-12 record for the 2004 season when injuries decimated the roster to 5-11 in 2005 after a salary cap-forced rebuilding.
“He understands you can’t remain competitive if there’s a catastrophic injury situation going on on your roster and those kind of things. He also understands the salary cap, and he understands there’s going to be some lean years,” Fisher said.
“He’s excited as we are right now for the future of this team.”
This has been a very busy year for the Titans.
Adams chose not to renew the contract for general manager Floyd Reese in January, and Fisher worked with senior executive vice president Steve Underwood to interview finalists for Reese’s replacement. Adams selected former Oilers safety Mike Reinfeldt in February as the new GM.
The Titans also have spent a lot of time this year on cornerback Adam “Pacman” Jones, who was suspended in April for the 2007 season.
They signed Nick Harper and drafted Michael Griffin to help replace Jones, then spent time in training camp on legal maneuvers to keep Jones from risking his playing career in pro wrestling before reaching a deal that limited the cornerback’s physical involvement.
But Fisher and the Titans opened the season with a 13-10 win at Jacksonville and had the ball Sunday late with a chance to kick a winning field goal before losing to the defending Super Bowl champs.
Only two players ” punter Craig Hentrich and right guard Benji Olson ” are left from Fisher’s lone AFC championship team in 1999. Fisher said that roster turnover helps a coach stick with a team longer.
Burnout also isn’t a problem for a man who makes a point of not missing Friday night football games when one of his sons is playing.
His stability in this job also has allowed him to stock his staff with coaches like offensive coordinator Norm Chow, lured by Fisher to his first NFL job in 2005, former Arizona head coach Dave McGinnis and keep running backs coach Sherman Smith with him since 1995.
Fisher already was the coach Adams has kept in this job longest, and he knows what his boss wants from him most.
“I was hired a long time ago to bring Mr. Adams a championship trophy, and I work toward that every day,” Fisher said.
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