When it came time to fix the Tennessee Titans' offense, head coach Jeff Fisher said he did some evaluation, and then decided he wanted to bring back “the best play-caller I’ve ever been around” back to the team.
Mike Heimerdinger officially accepted the position on Thursday and was reintroduced to the Nashville media on Friday via a conference call. The official hiring came just 48 hours after news that Norm Chow, who had replaced Heimerdinger in 2005.
“It happened quickly for this reason,” Fisher said. “Mike and I are familiar with one another. I spent five years with one another here, and he left on very good terms. We’ve maintained a friendship. …. I just felt it was an opportunity to take advantage of change, but also an opportunity to get to me the best play-caller I’ve ever been around back in the building.”
Heimerdinger, 55, takes over an offense he ran from 2000-04, one in which he helped Steve McNair develop in to a co-Most Valuable Player in 2003, and the careers of receivers Derrick Mason and Drew Bennett also took off with 1,000-yard receiving seasons.
Heimerdinger’s new mission will be to turn around quarterback Vince Young, who regressed in his second season after being Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2006. Young threw just nine touchdown passes in 17 interceptions in 2007.
Heimerdinger’s style has been one of tough love in his tenure, but he admits he will have to show patience with a young quarterback.
“I think we can go forward from what Norm has done with him and the offensive staff. You’ve got to be patient, and I’m well known for my patience, so we’ll be OK,” Heimerdinger joked. “A young guy if he wants to work at it, and stay consistent in what you ask him to do, the only thing he can do is get better.”
Fisher said he had not spoken with Young, whom he said is vacationing and out of the country.
Heimerdinger said he will be in Nashville next week to begin evaluating the current personnel and scheme. The Titans are expected to try and upgrade an offense that ranked last in red-zone efficiency last year, through free agency, the draft or trades this offseason.
“I’ll get back in there next week and sit down and start watching some film,” Heimerdinger said. “I worked with everybody on the offensive staff before except for the wide receivers coach. Those guys know what the personnel is and see what they’ve done scheme-wise.”