It has been hinted at throughout last year, and the first few weeks of the season has made it clear: the Tennessee Titans are no longer a running team. Contribute the philosophical change to any number of issues within the team; Chris Johnson’s fall from all-time great to all-time flop, the offensive line’s complete ineptitude, or the emergence of decent quarterbacks.
It doesn’t matter. The inevitable has happened, and we should be happy that it has happened so soon.
For over a decade, Jeff Fisher took control of the Titans and fit them into his mold. He ran the ball, ran it some more, and if that didn’t work out, he punted the ball. It got repetitive, and Fisher got recognition as an old school football wizard. He was anything but; a mediocre coach who got mostly what he could from decent players. If he didn’t have a very good defense or a transcending running back, his teams usually fell on their face.
The gradual changing of the NFL to a supremely pass-first league is the main reason that the Titans have now adapted. The moment in time to point the finger to would probably be the firing of Jeff Fisher. It meant that the team was ready to take a new direction. It meant that a new era of Titans football was ready to take shape.
While Chris Johnson’s poor performances two years in a row is a good indication for why this change has happened, the drafting of Jake Locker as the franchise quarterback in 2011 was the primary focal point. His drafting signaled the start of the new era. He gave the Titans a new face and, more importantly, a new, explosive quarterback. Something they had been lacking since the prime days of Steve McNair. It’s hard and unfair to pin so much pressure on Locker, but given his draft position and our need for a quarterback, he must deliver.
It’s weird to imagine this team as having adapted to a rapidly changing league and becoming a team that uses the pass to set up the run–sometimes not even to set up the run.
After so many consecutive years of Fisherball–rushing the running back right up the center’s backside, regardless of the defensive scheme–this is a new feel and a breath of fresh air. This past week gave us a look at the present and the future. Locker dropped back to pass so many more times than we gave CJ the ball that I was actually ecstatic to see the coaches change their game plan.
I don’t want to judge based on only one game, but with the weapons that we have, we won’t only be a passing team; however, we’re going to be a damn good one. It’s up to the defense and the running game to follow par and contribute enough, should the passing attack not be on its game. This really is a new era of Titans football. One that we can hang our hat on. Stay tuned Titans fans.