How Fisher butchered the Cecil decision

January, 21, 2011
1/21/11
9:49
AM ET
Titans coach Jeff Fisher either completely butchered the Chuck Cecil situation or completely manipulated it.

Whichever it was, Fisher looks horrible today and has some very tough questions to answer when he finally has his staff together.

[+] EnlargeTennessee Titans head coach Jeff Fisher
AP Photo/Paul SpinelliJeff Fisher has vacancies to fill at defensive coordinator and defensive line coach.
Fisher fired Cecil, his defensive coordinator the past two seasons, Thursday.

Originally we thought Fisher merely declined to retain Cecil. But Jim Wyatt reports that Cecil was offered and signed a one-year extension late in the season. That means he’s getting paid by Bud Adams in 2011 while not working for the team. And Adams is an owner who absolutely hates to pay people who are no longer around. It likely takes money from the pool Fisher has available to pay other assistants as he signs them to one-year deals that line up with his.

I believe one of two scenarios panned out regarding Cecil:

  • Fisher finally realized the extent of the team’s discontent with Cecil after hearing from Jim Washburn, the defensive line coach who bolted for Philadelphia Wednesday. Though several players had told the head coach they would be disinclined to return if Cecil remained, Fisher didn’t take such talk as seriously as he should have. Thursday, the switch finally flipped.
  • Fisher knew he was going to have to part ways with his good friend even as he gave him the extension. Leaving Cecil out of the loop, Fisher put as large a time period between a new contract and the firing as he could, ensuring his pal has a 2011 salary if not a job.

It's a sad development, either way. Cecil deserves blame, but he didn’t draft underachieving players such as Gerald McRath or Sen’Derrick Marks and he didn’t underperform like Will Witherspoon and Tony Brown did.

Who can Fisher get? Dave McGinnis could be promoted from linebackers coach. Maybe Dick Jauron or Jim Mora would buy into a year with Fisher providing a payoff. Or maybe we see something David Climer smartly proposed: Fisher captaining the defense himself.

If the ship is sinking, the top guy might as well be at the wheel.

Paul Kuharsky | email

ESPN Tennessee Titans reporter

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