Well, it finally happened. Arthur Smith is no longer a Titans coach.
PHOTO CREDIT: Christopher Hanewinckel / USA TODAY Sports
He was hired by the Atlanta Falcons, on Friday, January, 15, to be their next head coach. The former Tennessee Offensive Coordinator, will now work with a potentially explosive offense, with wideouts Julio Jones, and Calvin Ridley, tight end Hayden Hurst and quarterback Matt Ryan. Atlanta is armed with the 4th overall pick, and can start a massive overhaul of the defense. Smith made the Titans offense from one of the most lackluster, to one of the best after 2019’s Week 7. He will be missed, but Art helped build the core of this offense with play-action plays, set up by Derrick Henry’s bruising runs, and activated AJ Brown’s explosive speed. Look for Tennessee to build on this core for years to come. Farewell Art Smith! Best of luck, and you will be missed!
Who Will be the Defensive Coordinator?
I love Mike Vrabel as a coach, the culture he has built here, how the players believe in him, and how much they respect him. But after old defensive coordinator, Dean Pees retired after last season’s AFC Title run, Vrabel and GM Jon Robinson decided to not name a DC, and rolled the dice with outside linebackers coach, Shane Bowen. Well, we know how that went. The rookie play-caller did absolutely nothing to help the defense improve. It actually got worse! I thought that with an improved defense, Tennessee could improve on the run in 2019, and maybe finally win a championship. That was the absolute opposite. The Titans need an actual DC! There are many capable defensive-minded coaches like the legend Wade Phillps, who will come out of retirement. Or what about Texans interim head coach, Romeo Crennel? Please, Jon Robinson, please help out the defense! Here are 3 candidates for the job.
PHOTO CREDIT: Kirby Lee / USA TODAY / Sports
Phillps helped build the No-Fly-Zone, and the dominant Broncos defense, that literally carried Peyton Manning to his second ring. He made the Rams defense, which helped LA make Super Bowl LIII, and gave up only 13 points vs. the New England Patriots. Phillps has so much experience, as he has been coaching since the ’70s. He has to be on the top of this list.
PHOTO CREDIT: Brett Coomer / Houston Chronicle
Like Phillps, Crennel has lots of experience, and could really turn this unit around. Oh, and he was on Bill Belichick’s staff, and Vrabel played for him in New England. Vrabel and Crennel were also on the same Houston Texan staff, in 2017. So the familiarity will be there for the Titans head coach and Crennel.
PHOTO CREDIT: Steelers Depot
Austin makes this list since he was already interviewed for the job. He is a defensive assistant, and secondary coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers, who had one of the top defenses in the league this season. He does have some experience as a defensive play-caller, because he was the Lions DC from 2014-’17. Whoever gets the job, hopefully, can help this defense out, or it could spoil Tennessee’s Super Bowl window.
PHOTO CREDIT: USA TODAY / Titans Wire
Key Free Agents
These are just players who are key free agents. I listed what I think can happen with the players. If you want the full list check it out here.
OLB - Jadeveon Clowney - Maybe - His value will be lower than last year.
DL - DaQuan Jones - Maybe - Tennessee has little cap, so Jones isn’t a necessity.
WR - Corey Davis - Have to! - We need Davis back to spell AJ Brown, and the King.
MLB - Jayon Brown - Possible - Jayon’s season ended prematurely, and David Long played well in his absence.
TE - Jonnu Smith - Should - Jonnu is a nice tight end, and can be a solid producer if he gets more opportunities.
DB - Desmond King II - Likely - King helped the secondary get better when he came over via trade. He is a good slot corner and could help stabilize the back end.
TE - Anthony Firkser (RFA) - Most likely - Firkser is a nice weapon, and has impressed before. He is a quality backup.
K - Stephen Gostkowski - Maybe - Kicking could kill this team. Gostkowski ended the season well. I don’t want another season of multiple kickers.
DL - Jack Crawford - Possible - Crawford is in the same boat as Jones.
CB - Breon Borders (ERFA) - Possible - Borders stepped in and played amazing, but failed to show up in a critical loss to the Browns.
DL - Teair Tart (ERFA) - Most likely - Tart played well as a rotailanl DL. He could end up starting next season.
FB - Khari Blasingame (ERFA) - Have to! - The King’s fullback who is a good blocker, and with a name like that, why not resign him.
PHOTO CREDIT: Frederick Breedon / Getty Images
What to do at Wide Receiver?
AJ Brown is a stud, and a true number one pass catcher. He’s physical, he’s got lots of speed, good hands, but he can't be Ryan Tannehill’s only option. Who are the other guys behind him? Corey Davis is a free agent, but is very inconsistent. Even this season, where he was the sure bet, not Brown to get 1,000 receiving yards, but AJ got 1K not Corey. I can see them not reaching a deal with Davis, and going for more proven guys like Allen Robinson, Chris Godwin or Kenny Golladay? Maybe J-Rob will pull a Julio Jones, and try to trade up for Alabama’s star wideouts, DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle? Whatever Tennessee does, they need to address who the 2nd and 3rd options will be.
PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images
Pass Rush, Pass Rush, and More Pass Rush
Vic Beasley and Jadeveon Clowney didn’t work at all, as Beasley was cut, and the latter suffered a season-ending knee injury in October. Somebody has to take the pressure off of Harold Landry, and Jeffery Simmons. There are many options out there, such as Matt Judon, Shaq Barrett, and Yannick Ngakoue. Robinson may bring in one of those pass rushers I listed or roll the dice on Clowney, whose contract will be much cheaper this season, compared to 2020 where he made close to $13 million. Maybe Tennessee will see something in Miami University's Gregory Rousseau, who didn’t play this season, as he opted out of the 2020 college season. Something will happen at this position, and hopefully this year it goes the right way.
PHOTO CREDIT: Tommy Gilligan / USA TODAY Sports
Tennessee is smack, right in the middle of their Super Bowl window. After coming up one game short of the big game in 2019, they have shown that they have what it takes to make a playoff run. But can Jon Robinson make this team a powerhouse? I would love to see the Titans make, and win the Super Bowl, but I would hate to see the young core of Brown, Henry, Simmons, and others go to waste. Robinson has to act now!