Nothing but respect for long time Tennessee Titans writer Jim Wyatt.
Jim Wyatt has been covering the Tennessee Titans for as long as I can remember reading about sports and taking note of who the best writers were.
Right now he works directly for the franchise and he does a Q & A mailbag twice a week where he goes through and answers fan questions from the smallest thing to big sweeping questions about the direction of the franchise.
Today he answered one question exceptionally well regarding one of those fans who takes issue with a bunch of Titans moves this year.
I was going to put the full quote of the question here, but the “question” is over 400 words so instead I will paraphrase what “Michael Oxmuhl from Boise, Idaho” said.
His issues boiled down to these points:
-The Titans are going to be 9-7 again
-No position group got better this offseason
-Tennessee now has no leaders in the locker room
-Why not replace Casey with a first-rounder because he was a Pro Bowler
-No one helps the pass rush on a one-year deal which is why he doesn’t like Vic Beasley
-He thinks Malcolm Butler is bad
Jim Wyatt offered a very level headed and composed response:
"Hey Michael. Well, you almost lost me at hello. I hear your sarcasm, but I think we can agree a 9-7 season is nothing to scoff at when the season ended up one win short of a Super Bowl appearance. Would you rather go 14-2 like the Ravens and bow out in the first round of the playoffs? Sure, I get making it to the AFC Championship Game isn’t the goal, but it wasn’t a bad season either. As for where the Titans got better, I’ll start with OLB because of the addition of Vic Beasley. At RB, Darrynton Evans will be an upgrade over Dion Lewis. Sure, this team has some questions marks, and it lost some good players, and leaders. There’s no doubt about it. But plenty remains to be seen at a lot of positions, and I think there’s a chance several position groups could end up being better when all is said and done. First, I’d like to watch a practice or two before projecting W-L records based on what’s on paper. Here’s to good health."
Wyatt is correct in every take here, but the nicest thing was that he didn’t just completely expose “Michael” for all of his mistakes. Just quickly glossing over his issues with the team, I can be a little meaner and answer some of those concerns.
First of all, the Titans faced the 9th hardest schedule in the NFL last year, changed QBs in a hurry and struggled with several injuries throughout the year. Despite that, they still won 7 of their 10 games with Ryan Tannehill as the QB before then going on to win two more playoff games on the road.
So to assume they will go 9-7 basically because they didn’t make any huge moves this year discredits what the team did last year.
Wyatt also addressed that RB and EDGE got better last year over the offseason, but I think people really need to look at cornerback and defensive tackle as well.
Jurrell Casey had some big moments in the playoffs, but I will stand on the table for 2019 Jeffery Simmons being better than 2019 Jurrell Casey. (Also side note, the Titans did replace Jurrell Casey with a first round pick, the first round pick just came from the 2019 NFL Draft).
Could the Titans have kept them both? Maybe, but there was too much money tied up in DT at the time and they got what they could for a player that was probably going to be asked to do less in the 2020 season.
Throw in Murchison and an improved Isaiah Mack and they combine with a 100% healthy Jeffery Simmons and Daquan Jones to make a pretty fun group of defensive tackles.
At cornerback, the Titans get Malcolm Butler back healthy and they add Kristian Fulton to replace Logan Ryan. While Ryan was exceptional in run defense and as a blitzer, he wasn’t perfect in coverage, and isn’t that exactly what you need to compete with the Kansas City Chiefs of the world?
Throw in talented depth players like Jonathan Joseph and Tye Smith, along with an under the radar rookie in Chris Jackson, and you have a very talented CB unit that is deeper and better at the top than what we saw from the Titans after week 8.
One year players not being able to make a difference in pass-rush situations is a weird and bad take, just ask reigning sack leader and former 1-year contract signee Shaq Barrett.
Jim Wyatt is great and he is very patient, but these are questions that most people shouldn’t be asking right now and at this point if you can’t see what the offseason plan was then I don’t really know what to tell you other than it was simple. The goal was to get younger and more athletic on defense while building on the current offensive identity.