AFC South: Replacing Jeff Fisher

Here is what we know definitively about the Tennessee Titans' coaching staff:

  • Mike Heimerdinger is the offensive coordinator.
  • Incumbents at defensive line coach and running back coach have moved on.
  • Defensive coordinator Chuck Cecil, who signed a one-year extension late in the season, was fired.
[+] EnlargeHeimerdinger
Kyle Terada/US PresswireTitans offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger is signed through next season.
Heimerdinger signed a one-year deal late in 2010 that lined him up with Jeff Fisher’s contract.

Otherwise, we have no idea whether other staff members have signed one-year offers to remain with the Titans or managed to get a longer offer to stay, such as the one defensive line coach Jim Washburn was offered before he left for Philadelphia.

Three members of Fisher’s old staff could be considered as his replacement, though I tend to believe the franchise is best served making a bigger change now that Fisher is gone:

  • Heimerdinger is a strong, no-nonsense offensive coach, but he was diagnosed with cancer late during the season and started treatments. I presumed Fisher’s plans moving forward would include a contingency in case Heimerdinger were unable to work, or work completely. He's healthy enough to apply, but who knows what will happen going forward? It’s incredibly unfortunate that his health could get in the way of his candidacy as I think he could change the culture and would make things more interesting offensively.
  • Offensive line coach Mike Munchak is a Houston Oilers Hall of Famer who’s a favorite of owner Bud Adams. But he hasn't worked as a coordinator, let alone a head coach. He would command the players’ respect, but would need a strong defensive coordinator to manage the other side of the ball. I’ve known him since 1996, and don’t know that he would covet or be good at the face-of-the-franchise, daily media responsibilities.
  • Linebackers coach Dave McGinnis was head coach in Arizona from 2000 through 2003. But Fisher chose to bypass him for Cecil two years ago when Jim Schwartz left to become coach of the Detroit Lions. All indications were that McGinnis was fine with a young guy getting his chance while he continued to work hands-on with a position. It’s a position that was revamped in 2010 and was very unproductive.

One route for replacing Jeff Fisher

January, 27, 2011
Mike Reinfeldt is a trusted Bud Adams employee. He played for Adams’ Houston Oilers from 1976 through 1983 and has been Titans executive vice president and GM since 2007.

[+] EnlargeMike Reinfeldt and Jeff Fisher
AP Photo/Michael ConroyTitans general manager Mike Reinfeldt will play a key role in determining Jeff Fisher's replacement.
Since he replaced Floyd Reese in 2007, two of his three biggest hires -- vice president of player personnel Ruston Webster and director of pro scouting Lake Dawson -- are guys he was connected to from his previous NFL jobs.

I expect Reinfeldt will play a big role in putting Jeff Fisher’s ultimate replacement in front of Adams.

Reinfeldt was in Green Bay from 1991 to 1998 and in Seattle from 1999 to 2006, with a year off during that time to attend to family matters.

I wouldn’t be surprised if one or two of these names I culled from those staffs surfaced as possibilities to replace Fisher:

Mike Sherman, Kurt Schottenheimer, Jeff Jagodzinski, Bo Pelini, Mike Sheppard, Tom Rossley, Sylvester Croom, Ray Sherman, Larry Beightol, Darrell Bevell, Mark Duffner, Ed Donatell, Bob Slowik, Jim Zorn, Larry Brooks, Nolan Cromwell.

And here's one other name I've heard could be a dark horse through an old connection through Webster, not Reinfeldt: New Chargers special-team coach Rich Bisaccia, who just joined the Chargers after a long term in Tampa Bay.