There are a lot of things I believe Jeff Fisher deserves criticism for but his decision to substitute Kerry Collins for Vince Young isn’t one of them.
Changing quarterbacks during a game used to be commonplace in the NFL. As an older fan, this is perhaps why Jeff Fisher’s decision yesterday didn’t bother me a bit. As a matter of fact, I wish he had changed quarterbacks on several occasions (all post-Steve McNair) before yesterday.
Here are some famous examples of how common it used to be, after the break.
In Super Bowl III, Colts coach Don Shula replaced Earl Morrall with John Unitas, who had been injured most of the season. Unitas did lead the Colts to their only touchdown, but it was too little, too late.
John Madden replaced league MVP Daryle Lamonica with George Blanda numerous times in the fourth quarter during the 1970 season. Blanda won or tied six games in a row with his arm and foot and went on to garner MVP honors that season, despite not starting a single game.
Two years later, Madden also replaced Lamonica with Kenny Stabler, in the fourth quarter of a playoff game. Trailing 6-0, Stabler somehow managed to scramble 30 yards for a touchdown on his bad knees, giving the Raiders an apparent 7-6 win. That game is now known for one the most memorable plays in NFL history, the Immaculate Reception.
When the reigning MVP is repeatedly replaced over the course of a season, and when quarterbacks are replaced even in postseason play, it’s not only something you get used to, it’s something you come to expect.
If one quarterback is having an off day, bring in his backup to see if he has a hot hand.
To sports fan of that era, it was not dissimilar to calling the bullpen when the pitcher didn’t have his best stuff, or in hockey, pulling a goalie who gave up a few goals.
Over the years since then, the practice hasn’t been nearly as common. It’s just not something you see as often anymore.
Maybe it’s a generational thing. Maybe younger fans believe Fisher should be criticized for that more than middle-aged and older fans believe he should be.
I have a hard time criticizing anyone for doing the same thing that Hall of Fame coaches Shula and Madden did.
We’ve got a new poll on our homepage asking what you think Fisher should do in the future. Thanks in advance for sharing your opinion, both in the poll and in your comments.