Whatever Jeff Fisher plans to do to fix Tennessee’s losing ways will be done behind closed doors.
At 0-6, the reeling Titans, coming off a 59-0 rout at New England that is the NFL’s most lopsided loss since 1976, are as far away from their 10-0 start a season ago as possible.
Fans want Fisher fired, though owner Bud Adams isn’t ready yet for a midseason change.
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So Fisher is closing practices this week as the Titans try repairing all that’s gone wrong. It’s a flexible bye week schedule that could feature two sessions a day or walk-throughs before and after practice. The coach is looking at everything, will split work between veteran Kerry Collins and backup quarterback Vince Young, and some roster changes may result.
And the future for the NFL’s longest-tenured coach with his current team? Fisher insisted Monday he isn’t worried, not with everything he has to fix.
“I’m not in any kind of survival mode or worried about my job or worried about job security. I have a good coaching staff. I’ve got tremendous confidence in my coaching staff and tremendous confidence in my players we’re going to get this turned around,” Fisher said.
Adams’ last head coaching change came in 1994 after a 1-9 start when he promoted Fisher from defensive coordinator. Fisher has lasted longer and won more games for this franchise than any other coach. Adams told The Tennessean newspaper he is worried, but will make his decision on the future after this season.
The 0-for start is stunning because this is the franchise that returned 20 starters from the team that went an NFL-best 13-3 last season. Two local TV stations streamed Fisher’s news conference on their Web sites Monday, and one radio station aired it live as well.
The schedule hasn’t helped with four of the first six on the road against teams now a combined 22-13 and none with a losing record. The next four offer little hope either, with only Buffalo (2-4) on Nov. 15 currently below .500.
This week’s focus will be on the basics of throwing, catching, blocking and tackling. The only thing they’re doing OK? Chris Johnson is second in the NFL with 596 yards rushing.
Fisher said he isn’t making any coaching changes or taking over the defensive play calling, even though these Titans now have given up nearly as many points through six games (198) as they did in all of 2008 (234). They rank last in the NFL in that category in the first season under new coordinator Chuck Cecil.
“He’s not the one missing the tackles. He’s not the one getting to the quarterback. He’s not the one giving up the plays down the field or making the mental mistakes,” Fisher said of Cecil.
The offense shares as much blame.
The Titans dropped six passes in the first half alone Sunday against New England and turned over the ball a season-high five times. Collins botched a couple snaps and a would-be reverse to Nate Washington wound up as a 22-yard loss on a pass. The only other completed pass was a screen to fullback Ahmard Hall for 15 yards.
Collins now has eight interceptions, one more than all of 2008. Adams wants to see more of Young, the No. 3 pick overall in 2006, but such decisions are up to Fisher. Young hasn’t been any better in two relief appearances, going 0 for 5 with one interception.
Who starts Nov. 1 against Jacksonville (3-3)? Fisher isn’t saying.
The bye will heal up defensive backs Cortland Finnegan (right hamstring) and Vincent Fuller (broken right arm). But running back LenDale White hurt his left knee in the second quarter Sunday. He walked to the sideline, then rode a cart to the locker room and was seen walking gingerly after the game. He led the AFC with 15 touchdowns rushing last season, but has just one in 2009.
Fisher is trying to sell this bye week, with Monday a day off for players, as a fresh start.
“This is the coaches’ and players’ week to get things fixed, and there will be things that we won’t be privy to discuss for competitive reasons,” Fisher said. “There may be changes in the lineups. Hopefully, we can get some people healed up and ready to play for us. I’m expecting to put a different team on the field next week as we practice for Jacksonville.”