Jeff Fisher, the good coach, has to protect the quarterback. Jeff Fisher, the moral man, has to protect the game. Jeff Fisher, the longtime NFL rule-maker, understood his obligation to the NFL. But Jeff Fisher, the man who cut his NFL teeth at the Buddy Ryan school and helped other graduates succeed, may have looked the other way on a great many things. And that's why Jeff Fisher may be the best possible example of the bridge between the way the game needs to be played, and the way it's been played far more frequently than most people would like to believe.
In 2007, Fisher helped a young team take another step in the maturation process and the final rebuilding phase as this new group of Titans qualified for the playoffs for the first time since 2003. In guiding the team to a 10-6 record through the toughest division in the NFL, Fisher saw the franchise through a difficult re-tooling period that saw the team build from 4-12 in 2005, to 8-8 in 2006 and a playoff berth in 2007. The team followed the path of previously successful Jeff Fisher teams, ranking fifth in the NFL in rushing offense, fifth in the NFL in yards allowed on defense and recording a 5-3 mark on the road.
Hallmarks of a Fisher-led team include a stout rushing defense, the ability to possess the ball with a strong running game and poise in the midst of adversity. His ability to lead and shape a team is achieved through a combination of toughness and insight as a former NFL player. In 11 of the last 15 seasons, the Titans defense ranked in the top 10 against the run and ranks fourth in rushing defense over that period (Baltimore, Pittsburgh, San Diego). In 2003, the Titans finished first in the NFL in rushing defense for only the second time in franchise history (1993).
Current St. Louis Rams and former Tennessee Titans head coach Jeff Fisher has long been one of the most respected men in pro football, and for good reason. He coached the Titans through a franchise move from Houston, got them a yard away from a possible Super Bowl win at the end of the 1999 season, and effectively battled the two-headed monster of frequent salary cap purges and the ever-increasing weirdness of team owner Bud Adams. After almost two decades with the Oilers/Titans, Fisher lost his job for basically refusing to endorse Vince Young as the team's franchise quarterback, a stance that has proven to be fairly intelligent in retrospect.