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Why Titans GM Ruston Webster Should Be Fired

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A case against the man behind the NFL's worst roster.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

A couple weeks ago I took my shots at Tennessee Titans HC Ken Whisenhunt, giving my reasons in the case for his termination. Now we move on to the second of the responsible parties; GM Ruston Webster.

And before we jump on the "too soon" bandwagon, it's worth noting that not only has he been the GM for the past three seasons, but has been the VP of Player Personnel for the two years prior, so he's had his hand in the mix for some time. Ultimately, the makeup of the roster is his responsibility to bear, and right now that roster ranks near the bottom of the NFL barrel.

To evaluate a GM, we have to look at the big picture. That means Free Agency, roster and salary cap management, and of course, the Draft.

Draft Picks

2012 NFL Draft

School

1st

Kendall Wright, WR

Baylor

2nd

Zach Brown, ILB

North Carolina

3rd

Mike Martin, DT

Michigan

4th

Coty Sensabaugh, CB

Clemson

5th

Taylor Thompson, TE

Southern Methodist

6th

Markelle Martin, FS

Oklahoma State

7th

Scott Solomon, DE

Rice

2013 NFL Draft

School

1st

Chance Warmack, OG

Alabama

2nd

Justin Hunter, WR

Tennessee

3rd

Blidi Wreh-Wilson, CB

Connecticut

3rd

Zaviar Gooden, OLB

Missouri

4th

Brian Schwenke, C

California

5th

Lavar Edwards, DE

LSU

6th

Khalid Wooten, CB

Nevada

7th

Daimion Stafford, SS

Nebraska

2014 NFL Draft

School

1st

Taylor Lewan, OT

Michigan

2nd

Bishop Sankey, RB

Washington

4th

DaQuan Jones, DT

Penn State

4th

MarQueston Huff, DB

Wyoming

5th

Avery Williamson, ILB

Kentucky

6th

Zach Mettenberger, QB

LSU

The Tennessee Titans drafts seemed to get better as time went on, with Webster netting at least three "starters" from each year. Some of the selections are off-putting though. The top 4 picks from 2013 look like train wrecks at this point. Hunter and Warmack have underperformed to the n-th degree, Wreh-Wilson is a mess at corner, and the Gooden selection was entirely ridiculous, worse being as high as it was. The Stafford and Schwenke picks look better, but it is still early. Obviously, much can change in the near future.

In that same vein of patience, this last draft looks very good...for now. While it lacks flash, the Titans may have nabbed 4 "starters" and 2 solid contributors with 6 picks. While they are among the best players at their positions on the squad, keep in mind that we would have never seen half of them play if the team was in a half-decent state, roster-wise.

It's not good practice to evaluate drafts before they've been put through their NFL paces, and there is a high bust-rate on NFL draft picks in general. But when compared to other NFL teams, even middle of the road squads, the Titans have a noticeable lack of difference makers, and those young players who were selected to become them haven't developed as expected.

Free Agency

Now we get to the really ugly part. While any GM worth his salt will tell you that you don't build a winning team through FA, the injection of proven talent at key positions can often turn the tide of a season. In the Titans case, the tide turned red awful quickly following each of the following Free Agency periods. (Please note that these lists are by no means comprehensive, they are summary of the notable signings only.)

2012

Deal

Steve Hutchinson, OG

3yrs $16 million (retired)

Kamerion Wimbley, DE/LB

5yrs $35 million (restructured to 3yrs $9 million)

Leger Douzable, DL

(not re-signed)

Duece Lutui, OG

(not re-signed)

Kyle Devan, OG

(not re-signed)

Zac Diles, LB

(not re-signed)

This is a pitiful group to bring into town. Hutchinson was three years past his prime already before he played a snap in two tone blue, and Wimbley was a disastrous money-pit. At least Webster mitigated the issue by forcing Wimbley to restructure his deal. That said, he is still a candidate for release this coming off-season after another awful campaign. The rest of the group were of little consequence, and none of them were brought back the following season.

2013

Deal

Shonn Greene, RB

3yrs $10 million

Ropati Pitoitua, DE

3yrs $9.6 million

Delanie Walker

4yrs $17.5 million

Bernard Pollard

2yrs $6.3 million

George Wilson

2yrs $4 million

Andy Levitre

6yrs $46.8 million

Sammie Hill

3yrs $11.4 million

Moise Fokou

- (released)

Ryan Fitzpatrick

- (released)

This class had a lot more promise, obviously. The Titans actually went out and filled their needs with impact players. Delanie Walker was a huge upgrade over Jared Cook, and the combination of Bernard Pollard and George Wilson gave immediate legitimacy to a talent-devoid safety group. Then we get to Levitre, who has been a free agency disaster. The Titans are all set to part ways with the maligned LG this summer, after hoping he would be an elite OL for "the next decade". Sammie Hill was an unproven player who was overpaid, and has been a massive liability against the run. Fokou and Fitzpatrick were not brought back to town after a single season. Not exactly a glowing success.

2014

Deal

Michael Oher, OT

4yrs $20 million

Shaun Phillips, OLB

2yrs $4.8 million (released)

Dexter McCluster, RB

3yrs $9 million

Wesley Woodyard, ILB

4yrs $15.75 million

Al Woods, NT

2yrs $5 million

Charlie Whitehurst

2yrs $4 million

In the reverse fashion in comparison to his drafts, Webster's free agency record only gets worse. Michael Oher will be cut over the next summer after posting bottom-5 grades as an OT (what a shocker). Phillips didn't even last a season (though his release seems entirely premature considering depth issues at the position). McCluster has barely played commensurate to his deal. Meanwhile, Woodyard has had issues all his own, even in pass coverage which was thought to be his forte. Al Woods was paid $5 million despite having less than 20 career tackles to his credit, and Charlie Whitehurst has seen more action than he ever should have...that about sums up the 2014 season and we're only talking about free agents.

This past class was a massive failure, and over the course of several seasons, the roster hasn't improved in key areas. We can talk all day about Chris Johnson, though I think his release was a unanimous reality, and Alterraun Verner (never should have happened), but it's not just the marquee names that mark Webster's epitaph; its the sheer volume of misses across the board, from role players to presumed building blocks.

While Whisenhunt has struggled mightily to utilize his players' strengths, Webster has to be blamed for leaving the cupboard empty. Webster will more than likely be getting a second year alongside Whisenhunt (if Tommy Smith's word is to be believed), to redeem himself. But if this season has been any indication, the roster is riddled with holes, probably too many to be fixed in one summer even with a flawless strategy. On the field, there have been plenty of issues schematically, with player execution, and with sideline decision-making, but in the end the lack of personnel talent itself has to come down to the man pulling the strings. While it matters little what myself or any other Titans fans think, I'm not sure that Webster is the right man for the job.