The Makeover: 2018 Titans Preview

Don T

Don T

Poor choices, mixed results.
¡Viva Puerto Rico Libre!
Titans4Eva
Don T

Late last season, the consensus was that the Titans’ weak spot was coaching. It was reasonable: when Tennessee won, it was ugly and against bad teams. The offense was inefficient and very predictable. Even a serious professional, like TE Delanie Walker, said that players had to “overcome coaching” after a late losing streak against the Cards, Niners, and Rams.

Then came Week 17, when the Titans needed a win against the Jags to get a Wild Card spot. The last time TEN got to the playoffs, Jeff Fisher was considered a decent coach. Still, many TEN fans wanted the Titans to lose, thinking that would prompt management to fire head coach Mike Mularkey and his underlings, which blew my mind.

I understand tanking for a high draft position. But rooting for your team to lose a playoff spot  in the hope of management firing the coaching staff… That strikes me as joyless entitlement, which is especially deluded coming from TITANS fans—some of whom, I’m sure, had to wrest with the social implications of wearing a Matt Hasselbeck or Zach Mettenberger jersey in public.

For 2018, the Titans had a thorough makeover. They changed uniforms and the “reveal” attracted so many fans that the NFL gave Nashville the 2019 draft. The coaching staff is new: Matt LaFleur, formerly of the Rams, is the new Offensive Coordinator and will be calling plays for the first time. Dean Pees is the new DC; he had retired from Baltimore, but a deal that included having his son on staff sealed the TEN deal. At least that’s what I remember from Titans podcasts, a.k.a. liturgy.

GM Jon Robinson finally had the opportunity to hire his head coach and he chose Mike Vrabel. I hated the pick then because Vrabel struck me as an underqualified meathead who was infamously pimped only by Peter King. In his lone year as coordinator for the Texans, his defense was one of the worst, despite playing the Colts, Jags and Tits twice. The reasoning behind his hiring was interpersonal and organizational skills, not his football ideology. To translate: Vrabel is the GM’s toady, not that there’s anything wrong with that. Robinson made TEN a team worth following for something other than self-loathing yuks.

Now, I admit my judgment on Vrabel is too harsh and mostly founded on my memory of him bro-ing up the screen in the Texans’ “Hard Knocks” a few years back. Besides, I gotta get over the meathead thing, as inclusiveness requires embracing accepting respecting… OK, the word I’m looking for escapes me, but it’s the thing that’s above “tolerance”, which is the fanciest term for condescending in an “I hate everything you stand for” kinda way. Let’s go with “respect”.

The outlook for the Titans 2018 is “better than last year, I hope”. The offensive line was better two years ago; RT Jack Conklin made All Pro first team as a rookie in 2016 and his play last year did not reach that level. He also tore an ACL against the Pats in the Divisional round, and is currently on the PUP list. LT Taylor Lewan became the highest paid OL in the league.

Via dailyherald.com + postimg.com

Interior dudes LG Quinton Spain, C Ben Jones (a weak ink last year IMO), and RG Josh Kline return. I’m not overly worried about it. Overly.

TEs Delanie Walker is a good mid-round Fantasy pick, and his sub, 2nd year Jonnu Smith, may get 2-4 targets per game. Receivers are the big IF this season. Last year’s 5th pick, Corey Davis, looked great against the Pats with 2 TD catches, but was either injured or without many targets for most of the season. 3rd year receiver Tajae Sharpe turned heads in the preseason of his rookie year and had a good first half of the season TWO YEARS AGO. He did not play last season due to injury. Taywan Taylor is in his second season and he showed speed last year, but not much on the stat sheets. Rishard Matthews was a dependable receiver last year but has yet to practice so far in 2018. This group is very concerning.

I’m bullish on the running backs, though. DeMarco Murray retired after an ineffective 2017, which you knew was coming because he had 900 touches in 2016. So now Derrick Henry is top dog and the Titans picked up Dion Lewis from New England.

Via @ElLocoDeLaNFL + postimg.com

I’ll take that duo over any.

On the defense, the Titans drafted Rashaard Evans (Alabama) in the first round and LB Harold Landry in the second round. All the press I read raved about both guys; we’ll see. Evans I remember because he was listed as “Edge”, which I gather is lingo for “pass rusher”. (Right?) Anyway, Evans hasn’t been practicing because who the fuck knows.

Actually, that’s a bona fide bone to pick with Vrabel. The coach has made a point of incorporating the silent treatment regarding injuries. I fail to see any competitive advantage stemming from that crap, especially during the preseason. I dunno; it rubs me as an ego trip just to mess with reporters.

Anyway, Evans and Landry are welcome additions. The defense last year had a healthy amount of hurries, but few sacks. LBs Brian Orakpo and Derrick Morgan were not the wrecking crew of two seasons ago, but LB Wesley Woodyard played like a beast. 2nd round LB Kevin Dodd is out, the sole drafting mistake attributed to GM Robinson.

The front line of DaQuan Jones, Bennie Logan and Jurrell Casey is decent to great, but the D’s strength is the secondary.

The Titans picked up CB Malcolm Butler from the Pats, and the unit also includes Logan Ryan and 2nd year Adoree’ Jackson (who became a force last year after being thrown to constantly in the first games). TEN also took Arizona CB Dane Cruikshank in the 5th round, but  has not been practicing due to an “undisclosed injury”.  Another cornerback, Tye Smith was a good addition last year, but is currently injured. I’ll update on both guys’ condition after my daughter does a Tarot reading. At safety, Kevin Byard is an All Pro, but his partner Jonathan Cyprien is out for the season. Cyp was the one who knocked out Travis Kelce from the game last year in the Wild Card at KC, but the Titans signed Kenny Vaccaro.

And finally, there’s the QBs. Great news everyone! Matt Cassel and Brandon Weeden are off the team, and the only thing that would make me happier is if the team signed Colin Kaepernick. Instead, TEN has Blaine Gabbert and drafted Washington State’s Luke Falk. Damn cowards. Top dog is Marcus Mariota, of course. He started 17 games last year, playing hurt in a specially wretched stretch in midseason that included a 12-9 overtime win in Cleveland. His stats were not showy, but he was indomitable at the end of the year. My only hope for this season is that he does not have to overcome his coaching, nor be required to catch his own TD passes.

Predicción: The AFC South becomes the NFL’s best division, the Titans make the playoffs, and sniffing glue makes a huge comeback.

Banner via musiccitymiracles.com.

 

Don T
Don T
Poor choices, mixed results. ¡Viva Puerto Rico Libre! Titans4Eva
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Ian Scott McCormicknomonkeyfunMoose -The End Is Well NighKing HippoLow Commander of the Super Soldiers Recent comment authors
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King Hippo

Erotic Smashmouth 4Eva!!

Moose -The End Is Well Nigh
Moose -The End Is Well Nigh

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Wakezilla

Don T, is McNair questionable or a game time decision this week?

Moose -The End Is Well Nigh
Moose -The End Is Well Nigh

Now THAT’S concussion protocol.

Wakezilla

I’ve been rooting for Los Tits since Mariota joined. I hope they do well this year. Though, it seems like they might take a step back as they seem to be reloading?

Shame they won’t sign Kaep

Brick Meathook
Brick Meathook

They should sign Kaep and Tebow and line them both up at QB on every play.

You never know which one is going to get the ball!

VICTORY

Wakezilla

Tebow is a baseball player though. Are we exploiting the fact that nowhere does it say we cannot use a baseball bat, ala The Last Boy Scout?

https://youtu.be/CW4Y6mpCXgQ

Moose -The End Is Well Nigh
Moose -The End Is Well Nigh

They should sign Johnny Unites.

BrettFavresColonoscopy

This is the perfect situation for Kaep, except for the racism.

Moose -The End Is Well Nigh
Moose -The End Is Well Nigh

Same with the Donks.

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Ian Scott McCormick

Wait… that’s purple drank?

Ian Scott McCormick

Nothing scrambled my brain more than learning that Nashville was some mecca for bachelorette parties. I’ve been there and it’s a fun enough town, but that’s where they go? My friend’s wife willfully left New York City to have a wild time in…Nashville.

I’m not saying you can’t. I’m just saying I don’t know why you would.

Moose -The End Is Well Nigh
Moose -The End Is Well Nigh

Search for “Wild Hen Party” images.

Moose -The End Is Well Nigh
Moose -The End Is Well Nigh

AHHHH OK, maybe that’s not a good idea. Nix that.

Sharkbait
Sharkbait

Someone threw out the idea of going there for my bachelor party. He was immediately over-ruled and we went to New York City instead.

BrettFavresColonoscopy

I attended a bachelor party in Nashville and had an excellent time.

Brick Meathook
Brick Meathook

I drove through Nashville once.

Wakezilla

I’d be willing to wager that a flight to Nashville plus bachelorette costs is still cheaper than a New Yorker doing something in Manhattan. Don’t get me wrong, New York is my third favorite city in the World, but Nashville is an underrated city.

nomonkeyfun

Cheaper, and no chance of running into someone who shouldn’t see the bachelorette being very friendly with a bunch of guys.

Ian Scott McCormick

Nashville is very fun. Still… something seems off. This isn’t adding up one bit.

Low Commander of the Super Soldiers

If there’s anything that Marcus knows how to do, it is overcome coaching.

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Rikki-Tikki-Deadly

“We’ll tell you the same thing we told the last NFL coach who spouted that nonsense. You’re producing the wrong kind of culture.”

– Professor of Microbiology at the University of Tampa.

Moose -The End Is Well Nigh
Moose -The End Is Well Nigh

Nice.

Now go hit the showers…. wait no, maybe that would be bad. Just have a seat on the locker-room bench there…. wait no.

Moose -The End Is Well Nigh
Moose -The End Is Well Nigh

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Wakezilla

That’s exactly what Gase is doing in Miami, which will cost him his job in 5 months

Low Commander of the Super Soldiers

No, I’m pretty sure Tannehill will do that.

Rikki-Tikki-Deadly

Logan Ryan sounds like the name of a guy who’d be the sensitive member of a boy band.

ballsofsteelandfury

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Rikki-Tikki-Deadly

The Raiders have had something of a bromance with the Titans for a few years now.

Then this happened.

Oh yeah. That’s the [voice cracks] stuff.

Low Commander of the Super Soldiers

The Titanes making the playoffs last year really was my highlight of the season for… reasons.