Earlier today, Rick Stroud reported that Jeff Fisher was spotted at the Bucs' team hotel in Atlanta. This seems to be a coincidence: Fisher was in town to watch his son play in the Chick-fil-A Bowl and Peter King reports he had no meeting with the Bucs. it fuels the rumors that the Bucs want to hire Fisher and gives us an excuse to take a look at the experienced head coach.
Today's Candidate: Jeff Fisher
Jeff Fisher is best known as the long-time coach of the Tennessee Titans - going all the way back to when they were still the Houston Oilers. He started as a cornerback for USC, was drafted in the seventh round by the Chicago Bears and played for them from 1981-1984. After that, he became a defensive assistant under Buddy Ryan and eventually followed Ryan to Philadelphia, becoming his defensive coordinator. After a few short stints around the league, he finally became the Houston Oilers' head coach and remained in that position until last year, when he was fired after a conflict with owner Bud Adams over quarterback Vince Young. Fisher has had success as a head coach, famously coming a yard short of a Super Bowl ring (or at least overtime) after the 1999 season.
Cornerback, USC, 1977-1980
Cornerback, Chicago Bears - 1981-1984
Defensive Assistant, Chicago Bears - 1985
Defensive Backs Coach, Philadelphia Eagles, 1986-1987
Defensive Coordinator, Philadelphia Eagles, 1988=1990
Defensive Coordinator, Los Angeles Rams, 1991
Defensive Backs Coach, San Francisco 49ers, 1992-1993
Defensive Coordinator, Houston Oilers, 1994
Head Coach, Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans, 1994-2010
Why he should be the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' coach:
- Is a very experienced, veteran head coach with a steady hand
Jeff Fisher was the head coach of the Tennessee Titans for 17 years, and was a very steady coach throughout. His teams were disciplined, played good, aggressive defense and won the occasional playoff game. He never had overwhelming success as a head coach, winning 5 playoff games and losing 6, but he was always respected and managed to produce winning teams pretty consistently.
The Bucs could do with a veteran coach who knows how to handle different personalities, who knows how to instill discipline. They could do with a coach who is a steady influence. Jeff Fisher is exactly that.
- Has had a lot of success installing a defense, and runs a 4-3 defense
Jeff Fisher had a lot of success as a defensive coach before becoming a head coach, working as an assistant for the 1985 Chicago Bears and being the coordinator for Buddy Ryan's Philadelphia Eagles, an at times dominant force on defense. As a head coach his defenses have been up and down, however.
The fact that Jeff Fisher runs a 4-3 defense with an aggressive, up-the-field defensive line also helps. The Bucs seem to have the talent in place along their defensive line, and Fisher wouldn't feel the need to trash two years of high draft picks to install a new defensive front.
- Has the name and experience to attract quality assistants
Jeff Fisher has had a lot of quality assistants throughout the years and he certainly has the pedigree to attract quality assistant coaches. Gregg Williams, Jim Schwartz and Mike Munchak moved on to head coaching jobs after serving as assistants under Fisher.
- Super Bowl re-treads do not often succeed with new teams
Joe Gibbs, Bud Grant, Bill Parcells, Tom Flores, Jimmy Johnson, George Seifert, Mike Shanahan, Hank Stram, Dick Vermeil, Mike Ditka. That's the list of coaches who won or made it to a Super Bowl and later moved to a new head coaching position after taking at least a year off from football per The Big Lead. As that article notes, of those coaches, only two made it back to a Super Bowl - and only Dick Vermeil managed to win it with a new team. Those coaches had a collective win percentage of 44.4% and made it to the playoffs less than once every three years. Super Bowl re-treads don't have a track record of success in the NFL.
- Is a defensive coach, when the Bucs should look for an offensive coach
I have explained before why I prefer offensive head coaches to defensive coaches: defensive head coaches are too conservative in building teams and managing games, while offensive head coaches have a much better track record of success.
There's another reason why the Bucs should go after an offensive head coach: they need to develop Josh Freeman. The third-year quarterback has had a rough year, but he still has all the tools he had one season ago. It's imperative that the Bucs pair him with the right coach and maximize his talent: if developed right, Josh Freeman could be a superstar. If the Bucs fail to develop him the right way, they're throwing many seasons down the drain. A good offensive head coach is key in that respect.
- Wasn't all that successful to begin with
In his seventeen years with the Tennessee Titans/Houston Oilers Jeff Fisher won just over 50% of his regular season games - 54.2% to be precise. He made it to the Super Bowl once, but made it to the playoffs just six times. Fisher hasn't won a playoff game since 2003, and has seen his share of ugly seasons. While Fisher was employed for a long time and did a decent job, he was never a terribly successful head coach.