Do you suppose the gods of football sit around the scheduling table with the script writers from Mad Men and think up ways to add melodrama to the season? I’m sure of it. They must. How else to explain the theater that is the 2010 NFL?
Two of the league’s gold plated coaches, Mike Shanahan and Jeff Fisher, are both struggling with 5-6 teams. The Redskins brought their quarterback mess to Tennessee and left it with the Titans.
Fisher had a well-publicized blowout with his quarterback, Vince Young, after the Titans-Redskins game. It seems to have unhinged the coach. Young is out for the season with a thumb injury, another casualty of the Redskins defense, but Fisher acts as though he would have benched him.
He should be having second thoughts after division rival Houston Texans shutout the Titans 20-0 Sunday. Do you think Shanahan went away from the rushing game in Washington’s loss to the Vikings? Well, Fisher put the Titans game in the hands of rookie quarterback Rusty Smith instead of premier rusher Chris Johnson.
Smith threw three interceptions on 31 pass attempts for a QB rating of 26.7. Johnson rushed the ball seven times for five yards. Johnson was outgained by his back-up Javon Ringer who gained 27 yards on four carries.
See what I mean? Unhinged.
My friends at the Total Titans blog called the team’s effort “uninspired.” This leads to my theory that entire teams are collateral damage when coaches go to war with their quarterback.
Sadly, we experienced this in the two weeks between Shanahan’s pull of Donovan McNabb in the Detroit game the Eagles blowout at FedEx Field. The Minnesota Vikings offense was in a season-long slump while Brett Favre waged his passive-aggressive conflict with coach Brad Childress. Favre isn’t long for the Vikings, but the team fixed the immediate problem by firing the coach. Favre then had his best game of the season, unfortunately against us.
In the aftermath of the Fisher-Young blow-up, those retired athletes on the NFL Network and the talking heads at ESPN predicted that Young would lose in any conflict with a high-stature coach like Fisher. Hold your horses, cowboy.
Fate dealt Young a stronger hand when the Titans lost to the Texans. Jeff Fisher was damaged as much by how the Titans lost as by the loss itself. Young quarterbacks with winning records can find new homes faster than high-stature head coaches who make less money than they do. It makes no difference if that quarterback is a super hyper-emotional man-child.
Think it’s unheard of to fire a long-established head coach that took your team to the Super Bowl? Denver Broncos owner Pat Bowlen fired Mike Shanahan who took his team to two Super Bowls. I never thought that would happen.
There’s no certainty Jeff Fisher would win a him-or-me showdown with Bud Adams, unless Fisher defines “win” as anywhere but Tennessee if Young stays.
Washington could be quarterback shopping after the season. How about a swap of Donovan McNabb and Carlos Rogers to Tennessee for Vince Young and Cortland Finnegan. We know Finnegan can take a punch and he has 13 career interceptions.
Redskins Hog Heaven doesn’t advocate that. We aren’t even predicting it. It is, however, a GMs job to explore such possibilities. In a Mad Men season, who’s to say it won’t happen.