- Paul Kuharsky, ESPN Staff Writer
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Jeff Fisher’s in limbo.
Owner Bud Adams met with Titans executives Steve Underwood and Mike Reinfeldt in Houston Monday as Fisher sent the Titans into the offseason and then faced the press.
He was apologetic that he couldn’t offer many answers and said he understood the intense curiosity about his future. But he didn’t sound impatient.
I believe he should be. If Adams decides to make a change, other jobs in the league -- like San Francisco or Denver where Fisher could be a prime candidate -- might get filled.
Adams released a statement on his 88th birthday:
“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.’’
Though being too slow won’t be healthy for the organization, there are several reasons why Adams may be inclined to take his time:
As a younger man, Adams could rush to emotional judgment. He has talked in detail about regretting Bum Phillips' ultimate fate. I am confident that watching Fisher succeed elsewhere would eat at Adams. If the owner makes a change, he wants to be sure he has sound reasons that would minimize his potential for regret.
Moving slowly also reduces opportunities for Fisher. It can serve to remind a powerful head coach who’s had a bad stretch that he’s hardly infallible. Coaches on bad teams who’ve been fired, including Eric Mangini who was dropped in Cleveland early Monday, are not coveted the same way Fisher would be. While Fisher didn’t sound like he has a problem with how things are moving, he might not appreciate it.
Underwood, the team’s senior executive vice president and Adams’ most long-standing and trusted advisor, is a meticulous lawyer who prefers to reason things out. I believe both he and Reinfeldt are in Fisher’s camp and may need some time to sell their boss on their position. That’s amplified by the fact that Fisher wants to move away from Adams’ beloved quarterback, Vince Young. Making a case for Fisher and arguing against Young is a lot of work for the executive and the GM. If Adams needs a plan for replacing Young, that could take Reinfeldt and Fisher some time to piece together. Fisher said “we have some difficult decisions to make.” Maybe he simply defaults to “we” after such a long term. Or maybe the use of the word indicates he does not feel like a party in a divorce or a guy who feels like he’s about to be let go, but more of a guy trying to engineer some change.
There isn't anybody Adams loves as an alternative to Fisher that he feels needs to be hired right away. Adams also likely has not had a lot of insider input on just how weak Fisher's replacement would be if the new coach was beholden to Young the moment he walks in the door.