The team goals handed down by Tennessee Titans former President and CEO Tommy Smith before the free agency period started on March 10th, in my opinion were a little steep. This team had too many holes to fill, to go from 2-14 in 2014, to making the playoffs in 2015, and the Super Bowl in 2016.
I don’t know about you, but I have always heard that Rome wasn’t built in a day. Something I obviously learned in the Texas school system that Mr. Smith didn’t.
Little did we realize that his assessment of the situation would open a window into the dysfunction of the ownership group(family), and lead to Tommy Smith resigning his position on Friday, and handing the temporary reigns over to Steve Underwood.
First Things First… Fix The Family
The Titans have appeared to be a ruder-less ship since the death of long-time owner Bud Adams. Unlike his descendants, Adams was visionary who knew what he wanted, and knew how to get it. We may have at times wondered what he was up to, but he seemed to have a plan, and a plan that he could execute.
Fixing what’s wrong with the Tennessee Titans is not all on Head Coach, Ken Whisenhunt, and General Manager, Ruston Webster. It has to start with fixing ownership first.
Those steps were addressed by NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell at the Owners Meeting in Phoenix this week.
As reported by ESPN Titans reporter, Paul Kaharsky, the major change at the top was exchanging the family’s NFL contact, Susie Adams Smith, with her sister, Amy Adams Strunk.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said at the owners meetings in Phoenix on Wednesday that:
"“We want to ensure that the team is under the proper ownership structure, as well as making sure it is being represented properly not only in Nashville and the Tennessee market, but also at the league level.”"
Interim president and CEO Steve Underwood agreed that fans should know who the five people with ownership stakes are.
"“People in Nashville do need to know them,” said Underwood, who will arrive in Nashville Friday to resume a job he retired from in 2011."
This is the crucial first step!
Fix The Defense Second
The first obvious step in fixing the defense, started with Coach Whisenhunt using his relationship with Dick LeBeau to get the aging defensive expert to Music City.
As reported by Jim Wyatt from The Tennessean, on March 26th, LeBeau is committed to the Titans, and committed to sharing his vast knowledge with this team.
LeBeau’s presence has already been felt during the early stages of Free Agency. Although the Titans picked up a couple of pieces for the offense, the big signings came on defensive side of the ball.
A Pro Bowl caliber pass rusher in Brian Orakpo from the Washington Redskins, an emerging Safety in Da’Norris Searcy from the Buffalo Bills, and an emerging Corner Back in Perrish Cox from the San Francisco 49ers.
Re-signing Derrick Morgan Karl Klug was also key in keeping what was working in 2014.
Lets face it here. The best game Tennessee played in 2014, was the Monday Night game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. A game that the offense won, but the defense gave away.
Win that game, and you’re not picking second in the draft next month, probably fourth or fifth.
With The Second Pick In The 2015 Draft
If there is no big deal on the table that includes a “boat load” of picks, the Titans have to take Leonard Williams from USC with this pick. Williams is the anchor that Dick LeBeau’s defense needs to make it work.
If they are able to reach a trade-down deal, there are still some good defensive picks that will be available, but none as good as Williams.
Dante Fowler Jr., Danny Shelton and Vic Beasley are some good fallback positions, but in no way should this team make Marcus Mariota a priority for anything other than garnering a trade.
Improving these numbers in 2015 is a realistic goal this team can accomplish, and is a must:
"Their defense ranked 27th overall in the NFL in 2014, including 31st against the run (137.2 yards per game). The Titans finished 29th in the league in points allowed after surrendering 26 points or more in 10 of 16 contests, and over 40 points on three occasions."
The Quarterback Situation
Although he didn’t win one of the two games in 2014, Zach Mettenberger should have won that Monday Night game, and deserves a chance to go forward.
That doesn’t mean he doesn’t need some competition. The Titans need to find someone via free agency, or in the draft that can challenge him for that starting position.
I’m not opposed to a blockbuster deal that brings a Drew Brees or Phillip Rivers to Music City, but am not holding my breath on either one of those options, so maybe we need to look to the draft to solve the problem.
With 2015 goals set purely in the defense, why not pick up another young quarterback later in the draft? A Bryce Petty from Baylor, or Brett Hunley, from UCLA? There is a young quarterback out there somewhere who can fill this bill, all we need to do is find him.
Who though Russell Wilson was going to get this good, this quick? Tom Brady wasn’t even a starter in Michigan(he backed up Brian Griese). Want to guess who makes the Hall of Fame?
Realistic Goals for 2015
I keep hammering the point that eight and eight would be a great 2015 season. The Colts are still the team to beat in the AFC South. They made some improvements during free agency, and I don’t see them not winning the division this year.
The Texans continue to improve on defense, but need a quarterback to make a legitimate run. Brian Hoyer and Ryan Mallett are not the answer to their problems.
The Jaguars have gotten better during free agency, and could be a formidable opponent in 2015.
So 2015 needs to be the year we get the management team and defense fixed, with 2016 dedicated to building that playoff run.
Be sure to check out the links to the Paul Kuharsky and Jim Wyatt stories. They provide some insight to the appointment of Amy Adams Strunk to head the leadership group, and Dick LeBeau’s committment to the Titans