After a successful season in 2017, the Tennessee Titans off-season will be an interesting one. Head coach Mike Mularkey will not be on the sidelines, replaced by former Houston Texans defensive coordinator Mike Vrabel. Here is what faces the first year coach this offseason.
Tennessee Titans Off-season Roadmap
Step one: Finding coordinators
Finding an offensive coordinator is top priority. Marcus Mariota is a unique quarterback and an offense must be tailored to his abilities in order for him to succeed. It was clear that Mularkey did not adapt his offense to Mariota’s abilities. Therefore, a changed needed to be made. Moreover, this new offensive coordinator must be able to work with what he has. This offensive line is a big, strong unit that is not designed to pass block 50 times a game. This unit is going to have a lot of quick throws and east and west type routes; and with the speed on the outside the Titans can have a successful offense this way. The days of exotic smashmouth appear to be over. In 2017 the exotic part was pretty optional.
Second, Dick LeBeau is not going to return as defensive coordinator. This means that Vrabel is most likely going to be designing most of the defense. It will be interesting to see how much play calling he takes on during his first year.
Step two: Free agency
The Titans have surprisingly few needs for a 9-7 team. They have a quarterback, ample receivers, a top running back and offensive line and sturdy front seven. Still, improving the secondary needs to be one of the top priorities. The pass defense was an issue but with Logan Ryan, Adoreé Jackson and Kevin Byard three starters appear to be set. Depth at corner is an issue and strong safety will be addressed either in free agency or the draft.
While the Titans are projected to have $51 million dollars of cap space, some of the money has to go to re-signing Avery Williamson and Ryan Succop. Williamson has become a very solid middle linebacker and Succop is one of the top kickers in the league.
Another free agent is Eric Decker. Decker seems to be in an interesting situation because in one sense the team probably wants to make room for the young guys in Corey Davis, Taywan Taylor and Tajae Sharpe but Decker provided a solid veteran presence and could move the chains. My guess is he moves on this offseason.
There aren’t many glaring areas of need anywhere on the team. It’s more a matter of putting what they have together. If there were an area to improve on defense it would be pass rush and defensive line depth.
For the most part the Titans rotated four guys on the defensive line. Austin Johnson, Jurrell Casey, Karl Klug and the disappointing Sylvester Williams. Casey is the only difference maker (though Johnson could become one soon) so adding more depth here is needed. While Brian Orakpo and Derrick Morgan collected 14.5 sacks, neither of them are dominant pass rushers and they are getting older. Without Dick LeBeau bringing linebackers like Wesley Woodyard on the zone blitzes anymore it means that there will need to be another contributor at outside linebacker. Kevin Dodd has done nothing to merit playing time and it’s now or never for him. I would look at defensive line or outside rusher being the first pick in April.
Step three: Draft
While the Titans may not be big spenders in free agency I expect some activity in the draft. During the 2016 draft they traded the top pick to the Los Angeles Rams so they could select Jared Goff and then traded back into the top ten to get Jack Conklin.
Two safeties that could be on the board when the Titans pick at 25 are Ronnie Harrison from Alabama and Justin Reid from Stanford. While some of the Crimson Tide secondary members have underachieved, such as Dre Kirkpatrick, you hope that with Harrison you end up with another Landon Collins.
If pass rusher is what they are after, Arden Key from LSU is the best in this class but will be gone by 25. Sam Hubbard from Ohio State may also be an option.
Jon Robinson is an aggressive GM, he is not afraid to trade up. If he sees a guy that he believes could make an instant impact he will pull the trigger.