The Tennessee Titans hired Brian Callahan as their new head coach earlier this week, and it seems like a perfect marriage between both sides. For starters, it is clear that the organization wants to move in more of a modern-day direction than they have been in, and this move ensures that plan.
You have to be careful about believing what you hear from press conferences, but hearing Callahan's introductory presser should make Titans fans feel even better that they got the right guy. He was raving about how much he wanted to be in Tennessee from the initial interview, as well as saying some very encouraging things from an actual football standpoint.
He emphasized how much he values player feedback, especially from the quarterback, and that analytics will be a big part of his coaching style. He also confirmed that he will be the offensive play caller, and getting that clarity going into the new season is a good thing for everyone involved.
But one thing that was particularly eye-catching was his comments on an area that has plagued the Titans for over three straight years. Callahan does not believe that personnel is the only reason it has been an issue, which bodes well for the team with him at the helm.
Expect the Tennessee Titans' offensive line protection to improve under Brian Callahan
Fairly early on in the open media portion of Callahan's introductory press conference, he was asked about the offensive line protection and how it will improve under his watch, both from a talent and schematic standpoint. He had this to say regarding that area:
"...Protection is an everybody problem, the quarterback's gotta get rid of the ball on time, they have to work through progressions quickly. So to say that it's specifically the offensive line needs to fix the protection problem, I don't agree with that. I think it's a holistic offensive issue if you have protection problems, and there's a lot of ways you can help weaknesses, highlight strengths, and everybody's involved in the process..."
That is a tremendous quote from Callahan and sounds like a stark contrast to the Titans when Mike Vrabel was the head coach. Vrabel's ideal teams were built around the run game and physicality up front, and as we saw, when the five guys up front could not hold up, it was over.
A team built in Callahan's image is not predicated on the offensive line having to be a brick wall on their own, and he is correct in that thinking. Protection depends on a lot of things, such as the pass-catchers creating separation, the quarterback having mobility, and as he said, the quarterback being able to go through his reads and make decisions quickly and efficiently.
But his comments about how the quarterback impacts protection show that ultimately, he sees the offense being as good as the guy under center. Such an approach is something Titans fans have been dying to see for years now, and Callahan's track record shows that what he said in the above quote holds true.
He has experience coaching quarterbacks who have to deal with muddy offensive lines, and he has shown that they can succeed in such situations. That is really good news for the Titans offense especially Will Levis, who took way too many sacks in his rookie season that weren't his fault.
The Titans would love to hire Brian's dad Bill, who has been an exceptional offensive line coach, but even if they do not, the work Brian has done on his own is a great sign in that regard. And even if all the pieces fall into place, the offensive line is still going to be a work in progress at least at the beginning.
It takes a while for everything to materialize when so many new pieces are in place, and the front five still might struggle for some more time. But Callahan has shown the ability to adjust and make the best of bad situations up front, so the protection issue should no longer hamper the Titans like it has in the past.