It's time we say something nice about the guy. He is, whether we like it or not, a heckuva coach.
How do we know that Jeff Fisher is a heckuva coach? Well, ask yourself if you have a degree of anxiety about this Sunday's Jaguars at Titans game. Now ask yourself why you're anxious. It's because of Fisher, isn't it?
It can't be because of that 19th-ranked Titans running game or 19th-ranked Titans defense. What is it about a 2-7 team that could create the kind of anxiety Jaguars fans have about this game? Fisher, that's what. He's a heckuva coach and he's had two weeks to prepare for the Jaguars.
He's always been the coach Jaguars fans have loved to hate, and for the obvious reasons. He's caused a lot of pain for Jaguars fans. He cost the Jaguars a trip to the Super Bowl in the 1999 season; a trip to the playoffs last year.
Isn't that, however, what he's supposed to do? I know, he's taken some cheapshots at Jacksonville, but, come on, we're big boys. We should be able to take it, right?
Once upon a time, there was no reason to believe Fisher would ever reach tormentor status. In the early years of these two teams' series, the Jaguars dominated. At Vanderbilt in 1998, Fisher turned in what I thought was one of the worst coaching performances I had ever seen and there was no doubt in my mind he would not survive another year. With the Oilers about to move into a new stadium and become the Titans, it was only natural for the new broom to sweep clean. Then something impressive happened. The Titans started to win.
He coached the Oilers/Titans in four home stadiums in four years and when the franchise finally settled down and took root, he was the coach of a team built for a five-year run.
Now, he's in an opposite kind of run. He's in the second year of leading his team through a rebuilding phase that may also run five years, and he's doing it with the same determination and dignity with which he guided the Oilers through their final troubled days. There's no whining, no crying, just a sharp focus on the future.
"I enjoy what I'm doing. I have no intention of leaving before we're able to get this thing put back together and I think it's going to take a very short time," Fisher said.
Here are 10 things the Jaguars have to do to beat the Titans this Sunday.
- Take it to them—The Titans don't have the muscle that once dominated their roster. The Jaguars are now the dominant physical team and they must play that way.
- Forget contain—Steve McNair isn't gonna beat you with his legs any longer. Go get him.
- Attack the corners—The Titans have rookies on the outside. That's an invitation to throw the ball downfield.
- Stop the run—Always remember, running the ball is what Fisher really wants to do. It can not be ignored.
- Cover the tight ends—Erron Kinney and Ben Troupe are the Titans' two leading receivers.
- Pound it at them—Greg Jones may be the pounder the Jaguars have never had.
- Beware of tricks—Especially on special teams. Fisher always has a trick up his sleeve and he's had two weeks to think one up.
- Know what time it is—It's the Sunday before Thanksgiving. The days are growing short. Crunch time begins now.
- Cover kicks—Pacman Jones can take it back. He's got returns of 71 and 39 yards.
- Give Byron time—Leftwich is on a roll. He's peaking at just the right time of the year.