After all the drama that took place between Tennessee Titans head coach Jeff Fisher and quarterback Vince Young(notes) in Sunday evening, it would seem that the smartest thing for team owner Bud Adams to do would be to circle the wagons, put his support behind his head coach, and let his young quarterback know that if he wants to make it in the NFL, he can't go stomping off every time circumstances don't fit his version of reality.
Just because that would be the smartest thing to do, however, doesn't mean that it's what Bud Adams actually did. The same guy who was fined $250,000 by the NFL for flipping off the fans of the Buffalo Bills during a game, and who is known for speaking his mind about what should happen with his team, came out today and said that coach and quarterback were going to have to adopt, adapt, and improve.
"They are going to have to work together. I haven't given up on Vince, and I am sure Fisher hasn't either," Adams told Jim Wyatt of the Nashville Tennesseean from his office in Houston. "Vince was upset and said some things he regretted after doing it, but you have to get to the bottom of it, straighten it out and move on.
"It is one of those things that happened. It has happened, it is all over with and we want to get Vince back and playing again for us. ... These things happen. I have been at this thing for a long time, about 51 years now. I have seen a lot of things happen and I don't want to go jumping off the building over something happening one time.''
Fisher said in his Monday press confrence that the injury to the flexor tendon of Young's thumb would require surgery, and would therefore end Young's season. Fisher said that Chris Simms(notes) would come in and most likely be signed this week. That was per Fisher through the team doctors. What happens with that injury, and Young's situation going forward, and Fisher's overall authority, is a larger matter.
Adams has the tenure advantage - as the original owner of the Houston Oilers, he's one of the "Foolish Club", the set of American Football League originators who founded the only league ever to take the NFL to school. Fisher's been Adams' coach since 1994, but that may not mean much in the grand scheme of things. It's worth remembering that when the Titans started their 2009 season with an 0-6 record, Adams came out and basically insisted that Fisher start Young over Kerry Collins.
I have been wanting (Fisher) to play Vince Young more because (Kerry) Collins has been having his problems out there. I just think we need to find out how well (Young) can do. If you don't play the guy and lose all your games, it is hard for you to see what he can do for you. Vince has won a lot of games for us.
Fair enough, but there is an sometimes-unspoken, and sometimes contractually-regimented, agreement between owners and coaches that the coach must be able to swap players in and out as he sees fit. Communication between owner and coach must be frequent and transparent - that's part of the reason that Brad Childress doesn't have a job anymore - but Bill Parcells obviously said it best with his classic, "If they want you to cook the dinner, at least they ought to let you shop for some of the groceries" quote. This most recent quote from Adams sounds like a bit of an ultimatum, and circumstances around the league leave Fisher in an advantageous position if he's had enough.
There are currently two teams - the Dallas Cowboys and Minnesota Vikings - with major presences in the league and interim coaches that may not last beyond the season. Both teams are in need of fairly major rebuilding projects, and that's something Fisher has overseen before. Fisher could very well see himself right at the top of the list of prospective coaches; up there with Bill Cowher and Jon Gruden, should he decide that this kind of interference is more than he's willing to put up with.
Right now, Fisher is in the uncomfortable position of trying to maintain leadership and credibility while his team's owner is seemingly guiding the ship in a different direction. It wouldn't be too surprising if Fisher started to think of greener pastures.