The Tennessee Titans are looking to employ an exotic smash mouth approach this season, and I’m not just talking about running the ball down the opponent’s throat.
Yes, head coach Mike Mularkey used the term to describe the Titans’ style of play this year on offense after having the interim tag removed this offseason.
And immediately after becoming the full-time coach, Mularkey was faced with a potential quandary on the other side of the ball.
Dick LeBeau was hired by Mularkey’s predecessor Ken Whisenhunt to be the team’s assistant head coach / overseer of the defense in 2015. Ray Horton, also hired by Whisenhunt in 2014, was the team’s current defensive coordinator and signal caller.
LeBeau, a Hall of Fame defensive player and coordinator in his own right, did a masterful job of not stepping on the toes of his protegé Horton, whom he drafted while in Cincinnati and groomed as a coach during his various NFL stops.
But shortly after Mularkey’s hire was official, LeBeau approached him and asked to take over the play calling duties this season.
As luck would have it (if you’re Mularkey), Horton asked to be released from his contract after he was told that he did not get the Titans’ head coaching job this offseason. He is now in Cleveland.
And LeBeau is now the full-time defensive signal caller in Tennessee.
More from Titan Sized
- Tennessee Titans suspiciously quiet about major draft need
- Tennessee Titans agree to new deal with star Jeffery Simmons
- Caesars Promo Code Expires Soon – Claim $1,250 Today
- 3 needs that are being overblown by Tennessee Titans fans
- Tennessee Titans have potential dilemmas in 2023 NFL Draft
While it is no secret that LeBeau did not invent the “exotic” zone blitz scheme, he is widely credited with perfecting it and making it an integral part of today’s game.
In his second stint as the Steelers’ defensive coordinator from 2004-2014, the city was affectionately known as Blitz-burgh. LeBeau was notorious for fielding smart, tough, physically imposing defenses during that stretch.
His defenses were also synonymous with being extremely aggressive, blitzing from unconventional positions…blitzing from all over the field…blitzing from the time his unit got off the bus.
As the sole voice and signal caller for the Titans’ defense this season, expect some new exotic smash mouth looks from Tennessee this year on that side of the ball as well.
A direct quote from LeBeau regarding his vision for this season…
“It’s not the same old, same old. There were a lot of ideas we didn’t have time to implement last year, and we can do that now.”
He went on to add…
“I think our players responded well to the new stuff, and I think it’s good to have new stuff in so teams that know you well, especially your divisional opponents, they are going to have to prepare for different things.”
Starting middle linebacker and defensive signal caller Avery Williamson joined the Midday 180 Sports Talk Radio Show (Nashville) earlier this offseason, and confirmed that he is looking forward to LeBeau’s new exotic blitz packages.
His quote on the Midday 180 show…
“I feel like, from what I heard, it’s going to be a little bit more aggressive [this season]. Hopefully that’s true. I’m looking forward to it, because I would definitely like to have at least three or four more sacks at the end of the year.”
I am sure the Jurrell Casey’s and Brian Orakpo’s of the world share Williamson’s sentiment. An uptick in sacks could have all three in Hawaii by season’s end.
With the new approach on offense and defense this year, the city of Nashville could have their own nickname if both sides of the ball are able to execute that philosophy.
Welcome to Smashville.