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Turning The Page To The Off-Season

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My take on the coaching "search," and an off-season plan.

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The current state of the Tennessee Titans is an incredibly disappointing one. The ownership is absent, inept, and in hot water with the league. For the icing on the cake, they just insulted the entire fanbase with a complete sham of a coaching search that resulted in the hiring of Mike Mularkey, who has an atrocious record as a head coach with three different teams, and went 2-7 to finish the season. If that wasn't enough, the players showed some of the worst effort under Mularkey in December that I can remember from of a professional football team. While ownership cited continuity and keeping Marcus Mariota upright, neither make sense considering there is still a new offense that will be put in, and Mariota was injured under Mularkey. Not only was the sham of a search a complete and absolutely disgusting insult to the fanbase, but the entire move is just an insult to our collective intelligence. I can only speak for myself here, but I feel very comfortable saying that this will end very poorly. I fully believe that Mularkey will be out of a job before his three year contact is up, and after this absolutely, utterly ridiculous coaching "search," I can only hope that this team will have new owners soon. Amy Adams Strunk had a golden opportunity to get the fanbase behind her, as things were starting to shift that way, and she completely ruined any support that she could have earned. I would guess that a majority of the fanbase wants the team sold. Tracking this franchise used to be one of my favorite hobbies and passions, and over the past decade this franchise has continually disappointed and upset the entire fanbase. The past decade has been one massive crescendo, leading to the team winning 5 games in two years, only to turn around and spit in all of our faces. If you are a Titans season ticket holder, or considering buying tickets, when the Titans go begging for your money despite all of the facts, I call on you to remember how ownership spat in your face.  I know I will. Personally, it has been very difficult for me to move past this. I have taken my fair share of lumps as a Titans fan, but this has been the hardest of all. As I get off of my soap box, I will share the same message to any fan out there that feels as hurt, disrespected, upset, or apathetic as I have since the Mularkey hire: We know how this will end. We do not have to embrace this move, but we must accept it, hope for some talent acquisition, and hope that new ownership comes along to give us back the football team that we deserve. Until then, all there is, is the off-season. New general manager Jon Robinson seems promising. So as we turn the page to the off-season, this is the approach that I hope he takes:

Draft A Foundational Running Back: The Titans are still searching for a Chris Johnson replacement. Ruston Webster clearly made the wrong pick in the 2014 NFL Draft by selecting Bishop Sankey. This time around, a (hopefully) more competent general manager will be making the call. Mike Mularkey wants a bell cow running back like he had in Michael Turner in Atlanta, and new offensive coordinator Terry Robiskie has mentioned wanting a smashmouth team that pounds the rock. The top three running backs in the draft that have potential to be workhorses are Ezekiel Elliot, Derrick Henry, and Alex Collins. All three are very physical runners that can take several touches per game and wear down the defense. It will probably take a pick in one of the first two rounds, but this will be a very important piece for this offense. Signing a running back in free agency to be a workhorse does not seem very logical, considering the fact that there are a number of younger, fresher legs that can probably do the job better. The team has tried twice in free agency with Shonn Greene and Dexter McCluster, and both have been complete failures.

Overhaul The Wide Receiver Room: The wide receivers were at the bottom of the league last year. Ruston Webster's approach was absolutely baffling. None of the receivers could get open, which absolutely killed the offense. Jon Robinson has mentioned getting Mariota weapons, and this would be a huge step towards that. Mike Mularkey was not exactly raving at the end of the season talking about Dorial Green-Beckham, saying that he "needs to learn to play football" and get in shape. While Green-Beckham has potential, he is not even a fraction of a finished product, and should still be worked with and brought along, rather than counted on in an attempt to ignore this roster hole.Jon Robinson has mentioned "dependability" as the main quality that he looks for in receivers, it leaves me wondering about Kendall Wright, whose best year as a pro by far came as a freelancer as far as route running, which doesn't exactly match up with Robinson's criteria. By the way, Wright is in a contract year, and has not expressed overwhelming happiness in his time as a Titan. There is not a single dependable, polished receiver on this roster. I hope, and expect Robinson to hit this position hard in the spring.

Overhaul The Offensive Line: I'm not sure how much I even need to say about the offensive line. We all know that this was an absolutely abominable unit last year. Keeping Marcus Mariota upright was likely ownership's priority number one passed down to Mularkey and Robinson. The Buccaneers, where Jon Robinson last worked, spent early draft picks on Donovan Smith and Ali Marpet last year to protect Jameis Winston, and it payed dividends. An offensive line overhaul seems all but inevitable. Center and Right Tackle seem to be the most glaring holes, but I wouldn't declare anyone safe.

Replace Michael Griffin: I am not here to declare Michael Griffin the source of all of the Titans problems, because he is not. That being said, he is taking on a very large contract, is getting up there in age, and his play has been on the decline. It is time for the team to move on from this contract, and go in a younger, newer direction.

Add Cornerback Depth: The past two seasons, we have seen what happens when you do not build defensive back depth. Injuries happen in the league, and unless your team has a Broncos-like pass rush, you cannot hold up on defense with B.W. Webb's. Cornerback could use new blood at the top of the depth chart, but at the very least, it is a position that needs to be much deeper. Perrish Cox is a microcosm of this roster--he is not a terrible player, but would be better off lower on the depth chart. Hopefully Jon Robinson can get the roster to a point where it is deep enough that the depth, is depth, rather than heavily counted on key players.

Shore Up Inside Linebacker: Jon Robinson knows exactly how important this position is, thanks to his time in New England and Tampa Bay with players like Jerod Mayo, Dont'a Hightower, Lavonte David, and Kwon Alexander. Avery Williamson sturggled last year, and Zach Brown is a free agent. The team has been gashed up the middle for years, and it is finally time for this to be fixed once and for all.

Add More Edge Rushers: This defense fell off of a cliff when Derrick Morgan was injured. It is another position that needs to be much deeper. The ball has gotten rolling with Deiontrez Mount and David Bass, but the team needs more talented edge rushers that can be rotated in, and can hold their own in case Morgan and Orakpo are injured. Given Orakpo's injury history, it makes this all the more important.

To sum up, Ruston Webster left Jon Robinson an absolutely horrendous roster. You can point to almost any part of the roster and make an argument that significant change needs to be made. Of course, everything cannot be fixed in one off-season, but these seem to be the most glaring needs that Robinson needs to address. At the very least, he must get the ball rolling as far as turnover at these positions. As we turn the page and look towards the draft and free agency, these are the main ideas that Titans fans, and Titans brass should keep in mind. Again, we can only hope for talent acquisition while the whole other sideshow gets sorted out.