The sweeping coaching changes continue with the Tennessee Titans as sources confirmed to TitanInsider that defensive coordinator Chuck Cecil was informed by Coach Jeff Fisher that will not be retained next season.
Cecil's dismissal comes at a peculiar time, given the team has just lost its best defensive coach when defensive line coach Jim Washburn departed Wednesday for the Philadelphia Eagles. One of the rubs of Washburn's decision to go was an apparent displeasure with Cecil over the past two seasons.
As for who might replace Cecil, it is possible that linebackers coach Dave McGinnis could be elevated to the role, but there is an indication that Fisher could be inclined to look outside the organization for a replacement. Efforts to reach Cecil and Fisher on Thursday were unsuccessful. A Titans spokesman said that no statement would be made by the team at this time.
Cecil did comment to the Associated Press and expressed disappointment but said the move wouldn't affect his friendship with Fisher.
"Our relationship is and always will be a really good one. I can never repay him for the 10 wonderful years I had here and the things that I've learned here. I wish him nothing but the best," Cecil told the AP.
Cecil indicated to the AP that there were other opportunities, but that he didn't consider them because he believed he would be back with the Titans in 2011.
"The way this business is things happen fast so obviously if I'd have known last week, then I'd probably have a few more opportunities. But hopefully there's still a few opportunities out there for me," he said.
Backup safety Donnie Nickey said he was not surprised the change was made.
“I can't say I'm surprised,” Nickey said. “I think when it came out that they were gonna keep Fisher have to make some changes. I think Chuck was a good game coach, but I just think the production dropped in the last two years and it really cost him his job.”
Defensive end Jason Babin said when a team struggles, someone is going to be made a scapegoat in the matter.
“The thing is when you have a season like we did that started with so much potential and things went south, then somebody had to pay the price I guess. It's nobody's fault; it's just the business,” Babin said.
Throughout the season, there were whispers and speculation of the Titans having difficulties making adjustments, something the players were not ready to say on Thursday.
“It's crazy,” defensive end Dave Ball said. “I know there were a lot of grumblings both kind of from the media and other outlets. Sometimes stuff happens, I guess, to where Fisher thought he had to make a change.”
Nickey said that Cecil needed time and experience to grow in to the job he was given in 2008.
“He's a good defensive backs coach, a top of the line position coach, but you've got to be that chess player and play that chess game with the other coordinator and it seemed like sometimes we were playing checkers,” Nickey said. “I don't want to say anything bad about Chuck, but he wasn't the coordinator that Jim Schwartz was, and I think it was just a lack of experience. I'm sure that down the line, he'll get another shot, and he'll be better.”
Ball said the Titans defense was never able to recover once they hit a six-game losing streak.
“Each week during that little six-week skid, it seemed like it was something new in terms of things that were not getting done,” Ball said. “That just hindered it and we were never really able to correct things in that stretch.”
Other players expressed surprised at the move.
“It's a sad day in Tennessee right now. It's crazy. I guess when you lose, they probably had to make change,” defensive end William Hayes. “You wish him the best. You hate to hear about anybody losing their job.”
Linebacker Will Witherspoon, who has learned three defenses in the past two seasons, said the Titans will have to move forward.
“It's always bad when someone is let go,” Witherspoon said. “There's things about Chuck you've got to like, like the piss and vinegar he had and just his drive. He carried that same mentality that he had as a player.
“It's sad that I was just getting to know him. It's never a great deal to hear something like that, and now it's just, 'OK, let's see what the future holds and how you're gonna move forward.'”
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