Tim Kelly will make one big change to the Tennessee Titans offense

Tennessee Titans (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Tennessee Titans (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) /

No matter who you want to blame for the Tennessee Titans postseason loss, it is impossible to look at Todd Downing’s first season as OC without calling it a failure.

Unfortunately, it looks like Downing will come back next season which means that the Titans will have to start off next season with one hand tied behind their back. The good news is that Mike Vrabel is hiring someone that he wanted to hire instead of Todd Downing last year.

Tim Kelly is the brother of former Tennessee Titans offensive tackle Dennis Kelly, but he is better known as the Houston Texans OC for the last three seasons.

Last year the entire Texans organization collapsed because of years of bad front office decisions, Jack Easterby’s existence, and Deshaun Watson. However, one person who got the short end of the stick was Kelly.

The Tennessee Titans haven’t said what Tim Kelly’s role will be, but unless there is a surprise firing it looks like he might be the offensive version of what Mike Vrabel did with the Jim Schwartz hire last year.

Whatever Schwartz did behind closed doors, it made the Titans defense exponentially better than they were in 2020. Specifically, Schwartz revolutionized the four-man pass rush for Tennessee.

What Tim Kelly brings to the Tennessee Titans

Kelly is by no means a perfect play-caller. However, if the Tennessee Titans want to get closer to what they were in 2020 when they scored more than 30 points per game, Kelly is a step in the right direction.

Kelly’s hallmark with the Titans should be getting back to more 12 personnel (1 running back, 2 tight ends).

Thanks to Sharp Football Stats, we know that under Arthur Smith in 2020, the Tennessee Titans ran the highest percentage of plays out of 12 personnel in the NFL. Unfortunately, under Todd Downing, they strayed away from what made that offense work and they fell all the way down to 17th in the NFL in plays in 12 personnel.

The Houston Texans have been top-5 in snaps in 12 personnel for three straight seasons (all under Tim Kelly). His offense was so user-friendly that Deshaun Watson advocated for him following the 2020 season.

It isn’t going to instantly make this offense into the powerhouse that the 2020 group was, but it is going to look a lot closer to that than it did in 2021. The Titans need to make multiple improvements to the tight end position this offseason and this almost guarantees that they will.

More tight ends should mean better run-blocking, more play-action attempts, and an offense that fits what the Tennessee Titans are built to do. Even if Kelly doesn’t have the OC job (yet), this is a smart move by Mike Vrabel.