Tennessee Titans Secondary is Destined to Dominate Under Kerry Coombs

NASHVILLE, TN - DECEMBER 31: Safety Kevin Byard
NASHVILLE, TN - DECEMBER 31: Safety Kevin Byard /

Mike Vrabel’s hire of Kerry Coombs can prove to be monumental for the Tennessee Titans heading into the 2018 season.

When Mike Vrabel was announced as the new head coach of the Tennessee Titans, many fans were concerned with the staff he would be able to assemble due to his limited amount of time as a coach. Swinging and missing on coordinator hires such as Ohio State OC Ryan Day and new Giants DC James Bettcher, fans of the franchise were starting to get restless.

Those concerns were eventually put to rest with the hiring of DC Dean Pees and OC Matt LaFleur, two coaches with proven track records. Those hires got the fan base excited, and rightfully so. But there’s another coach on this staff who fans should definitely get to familiarize themselves with.

Kerry Coombs comes over as the new secondary coach after an extremely productive tenure with Ohio State. Coombs was coaching the cornerbacks for the Buckeyes from 2012 to 2017, grooming the majority of his players to not just play in the NFL, but to be key pieces of their defenses.

Of those players, Marshon Lattimore, Gareon Conley, Eli Apple, and Bradley Roby were all selected in the first rounds of their respected drafts. Add in players like Doran Grant (fourth round) and Travis Howard (UDFA), and Coombs has a highly productive track record for only being in Columbus for five years. If Coombs can develop these players at such a high rate in a limited amount of time before they declare, imagine the growth we can see out of players such as Kevin Byard and Adoree’ Jackson over time.

Coombs comes off as a no-nonsense kind of guy who challenges players and holds them accountable. This video shows the intensity he can bring to the field which would not only raise the level of competition for his defensive backs, but for the team’s pass catchers as well. I love the fire he displays.

The Titans secondary saw a huge improvement in 2017 after being the team’s weakest position group the season prior. Logan Ryan proved to be a solid all-around piece after coming over from New England, but the same can’t be said for the other free agent addition to the back end of the defense, Johnathan Cyprien. Cyprien was okay in run support, but was consistently a liability in coverage. Those are veterans who will see some results in the staff changes, but won’t see nearly as big of an impact like the younger DBs will, such as Byard, Jackson, LeShaun Sims, and Tye Smith.

Despite Byard (All-Pro and Pro Bowl) and Jackson (Pro Bowl Alternate) seeing solid success in 2017, there is still plenty of room to grow. With players of that caliber, it takes a special kind of coach to get them from being good to being dominant. Coombs’ past results show he could be the guy to accomplish just that.

It’s more interesting to me to see what he will be able to get out of players like Sims and Smith. Both players have stepped up when their number has been called, but for some reason haven’t been able to reach a level of consistency to warrant a starting gig. When you saw players like Brice McCain see the field over them (aside from the final stretch of the season), it was a cause for concern. Especially when you saw how often McCain was picked on in coverage.

If at least one out of those two players can develop into a trusted nickel corner, this team will be better in the long run because of it. With a solid core in tact on that side of the ball, fans should expect an even better defensive unit come 2018. Get it done, Coach Coombs!

Next: Looking at the Mariota and LaFleur Pairing