Sixteen years at anything is a long time.
A 16-year marriage is commendable. Sixteen years in school is an accomplishment, and 16 years for a dog is 112 years old. I know, I have a Siberian Husky and a German Shepherd that are 12 and 11, respectively, and I hope and pray they make it to 16.
When you think about working at one place for 16 years, that doesn’t seem like the norm these days; I’ve never successfully pulled that feat off.
Jeff Fisher has managed to hit that mark, which is why he is currently the longest tenured coach in the NFL.
Fisher got that shot in 1994, on Nov. 14 as the interim head coach, when Jack Pardee was fired in Houston. He would take over and coach the remaining six games of that season for the Oilers.
Early on his career was truculent, with the ugly divorce of owner Bud Adams from the city of Houston, then the move to Nashville, home games before small crowds in Memphis in 1997, followed by half-hearted support at Vanderbilt the following year. Even before the Titans could move into their new home, a tornado in downtown Nashville threatened to delay the building of what would first be known as Adelphia Coliseum.
Those years 1996-98, with home games in three different cities, were marked by three straight seasons of 8-8 football. With all the commotion, everybody gave Jeff Fisher, his staff and the players a pass for all they had endured with the move to Tennessee. Heck, most were just thrilled that an NFL team had landed in Music City USA.
The 1999 season would change the franchise forever. A 13-3 finish to the regular season, and then the run to Super Bowl XXXIV that began with the “Music City Miracle” win over Buffalo, then Indianapolis and finally Jacksonville (for third time that season) to make their first trip to the Super Bowl in franchise history.
The good times would continue to roll in 2000 when the Titans finished 13-3 again, and were the No. 1 seed in the AFC. But that warm, fuzzy feeling would be short-lived as the Baltimore Ravens would roll into town, in a divisional playoff game, and crush any hopes of another run to the Super Bowl. Some would argue that Eddie George, and maybe this franchise, would never be the same after Ray Lewis stole the ball from him en route to a touchdown and a Ravens' upset.
Since that time, Fisher and the Titans' success has been spotty with four more playoff appearances, but no postseason wins since the 2003 playoffs.
Now, with the Titans mired in a six-game losing streak for the second straight year, could Fisher's grip on the job be loosening after 16 years.
Since the Super Bowl era began in 1967, only five coaches, including Fisher, have been with the same franchise for at least 16 years, and when you compare the resumes, that's where the comparisons between the other four, who are in the Hall of Fame, stop when matched with Fisher.
Coached the Miami Dolphins from 1970-1995, appearing in five Super Bowls (winning two of them). Shula finished with 257 career regular season victories and a .659 winning percentage. He was 17-14 in the playoffs, and is the all-time winningest coach in league history.
Coached the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1969-1991, appearing in four Super Bowls (winning them all). Noll finished with 193 career regular season victories and a .566 winning percentage. He was 16-8 in the playoffs, and won more Super Bowls than any other coach in NFL history.
Coached the Dallas Cowboys from 1960-1988, appearing in five Super Bowls (winning two of them). Landry finished with 250 career regular season victories, which is third most wins of all-time in league history. He was 20-16 in the playoffs, which is the most playoff victories in the NFL for any coach. Landry also had 20 consecutive winning seasons.
Coached the Minnesota Vikings from 1967-1983 and the 1985 season. He appeared in four Super Bowls (losing them all). Grant finished with 158 career regular season victories and a .622 winning percentage. He was 10-12 in the playoffs, which includes taking the Vikings to the playoffs 12 times while their head coach.
Has coached the Oilers/Tennessee Titans from 1994 to present. Fisher has appeared in one Super Bowl, losing to the St.Louis Rams. His career record in the regular season is 141-118, a .554 winning percentage. He is 5-6 in the playoffs. In five of the past seven years, Fisher has encountered at least a five game losing streak at some point in the season.
Jeff Fisher is set to coach his 270th career game on Sunday against the Houston Texans at LP Field. That game will move him past former New York Giants head coach Steve Owen, for eighth place on the NFL’s all-time list of games by a head coach with one team.
With the way the 2010 season is playing out or should I say flaming out, you do wonder how this ride ends? With one-year remaining on both of their contracts, is the owner willing to part with his hometown prize quarterback Vince Young or is the owner ready for a change at the helm?
Is there a scenario where both return in 2011 or could this thing crater enough for Bud Adams to pull the plug on both Fisher and Young, and start over?
Whatever side of the fence you stand on, it seems imminent that change, in some shape or fashion, will happen in 2011 for the Tennessee Titans franchise.