The Tennessee Titans have nothing to play for, so they should turn this week’s season finale into a showcase for the candidates that will be interviewing for their offseason vacancies.
And their 2015 rookie class should be the lead singer of the band.
While nothing has been confirmed, it seems to be a foregone conclusion that interim head coach Mike Mularkey will not be retained. General manager Ruston Webster is also likely to fall victim to “Black Monday”, the official end of the regular season.
The day where hot seats turn into pink slips for a lot of NFL coaching staffs and executives.
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With everyone in the Titans’ front office and coaching staff on lame-duck status, controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk should order this year’s rookie class into the starting line up this week at Indianapolis.
And yes, I mean all of them.
When it comes to 1st round pick Marcus Mariota, of course it all boils down to his health. If his knee is 100%, and he wants to play, then I think that Mariota should absolutely start and play this week.
Coach Mularkey can monitor his snaps, and treat his minutes like a preseason game if need be. Mariota has earned the right, if healthy of course, to finish the season on a positive note with a couple of attempts at touchdown drives. Then he can give way to Zach Mettenberger.
At running back, fifth round pick David Cobb should start, and get 99% of the carries. The Titans gave every running back on the roster a chance to be the lead dog this year while Cobb was injured, and none of them took advantage.
Time to turn the page on the running back by committee approach, and see what the kid can do in a regular season feature role this year…if given 20-25 carries.
At wide receiver, 2nd round pick Dorial Green-Beckham and 7th round pick Tre McBride should start and handle the lion’s share of the work. After a shaky start, Green-Beckham finished the second half of the season strong while filling in for injured Kendall Wright.
McBride got his first professional reception and touchdown all in the same play last week, and should be allowed to build on that confidence with increased snaps this week.
Wright needs to get a head start on being healthy for next season, and should sit this one out regardless of his health status. Harry Douglas will likely be let go at season’s end, so there is no reason to play him ahead of McBride Sunday.
Third round rookie right tackle Jeremiah Poutasi needs to be let out of the doghouse, and will likely have to play anyway this week with left tackle Taylor Lewan leaving last week’s game with an apparent concussion.
Tennessee spent one of their two fourth round picks this year on fullback Jalston Folwer, but the rookie hasn’t seen the light of day on offense lately. The Titans need to get more bang for their buck, and design a few plays for their versatile pass catching battering ram this week.
If recent history holds to form, then there should be a plethora of coaching opportunities for the hot commodity candidates this offseason. And lets face it…after losing 21 of their last 26 games, Tennessee’s situation seems less attractive than their competition.
Case in point, the Philadelphia Eagles just fired Chip Kelly, their head coach and general manager.
The Titans can get a head start on their search this week by showing potential candidates what they have to build around…Marcus Mariota, a young core group of skill players, and plenty of salary cap money to add pieces.
Tennessee’s journey back to respectability starts with this year’s draft class. If they can develop along with Mariota, then the offense has a chance to be special over the next few years. And for the first time all season, they (may) have a chance to start a regular season game as a complete unit.
With nothing else to lose, it’s time to look toward the future. It’s time for the all rookie show this Sunday.