Jeff Fisher is a good coach, a sound football executive and by all reports a great guy.
And he needs to part ways with the Tennessee Titans sooner rather than later. Fisher's time elapsed Sunday in Kansas City, the end of his run an unfitting and unflattering mess.
For the good of the franchise and Fisher, the break must be soon after the season finale at Indy on Sunday. That, or the lasting images of his lengthy -- and mostly successful -- stay with franchise will be forever tarnsihed by the final stains of this failed run and the destruction that appears in line for the Titans in 2011.
There are two fundamental questions that must be addressed before making a coaching change.
If it's a college program, there must be an overwhelming knowledge that there is a significantly better coach to be hired. And there must be a distinct likelihood of hiring that upgrade. If, say, Vandy wanted to run its coach or if Washington State had an opening, they best not be thinking they are going to sway a Saban, a Meyer or anyone from the high-dollared accounting firm of Stoops, Pelini and Stoops.
If it's an NFL franchise, the question is less subjective. Has the head coach lost the locker room? It's just that simple, and it was easy to see Sunday in Kansas City that Fisher has lost these Titans. Whether it started a decade ago or last month when Fisher and then-starting quarterback Vince Young dropped the gloves or last week for whatever reason, it was finished Sunday.
The Chiefs led 24-0 after roughly 22 minutes. It was 31-7 at the half. It was not even that close.
Kansas City is a feel-good story of making the most of a good draft, a favorable schedule and a true home-field advantage. The Chiefs have young talent and have made a nice push that led to a first-round playoff home game. But these are the Chiefs, not the Patriots or the Steelers or the Ravens or any of the rest of the AFC royalty that the Titans used to challenge.
No, the Titans have been passed by yet another team, the Chiefs joining the Jets and possibly the Jaguars with a brighter today and a much brighter tomorrow.
Look around the AFC, and there aren't many bigger quarterback questions than the ones looming over Nashville. Tennessee owner Bud Adams' fascination with Young's splendid physical gifts have damaged Fisher in the locker room and left the Titans with the worst of the league's unknowns: Is the starting quarterback a franchise-type player?
To this point the answer is no. But whether Adams and Co. build the Titans of tomorrow around Young or not, Fisher's Titans of yesterday are a fond memory and will only remain that way if the split is smooth and soon.
Now is the time for Fisher to walk rather than be pushed. The Titans will be one of the league's more attractive offseason openings, somewhere this side of San Diego and Dallas and light years ahead of San Francisco and Carolina.
Fisher is 142-119 overall in his 16-plus years and 5-6 in six playoff trips. He's a relatively young guy at 52, and will be a hot name in the coaching circles and rumor mills this time next year.
Plus, when Lane Kiffin wears out his welcome at Southern California in the next year or two, Fisher would be the leading candidate to be the head coach at USC -- his alma mater.
It's OK. It was a fine run.
Fisher was good, but in today's sports world consistently good is more derogatory than complimentary for coaches over the long haul. As the years blend, consistently good frequently is remembered as consistently not great.
Contact Jay Greeson at email@example.com or 423-757-6273.