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“Igniting the Fire” Episode Four Recap


NCAA Football: Bowling Green at Ohio State Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

The Titans released the fourth installment of their Igniting the Fire video series tonight. This episode, titled “The Fury of the Secondary”, features everyone’s favorite new position coach Kerry Coombs and his ultra-talented defensive backs. If you missed the first three episodes you can check them out via the links below.

Episode 1: Who is Mike Vrabel?

Episode 2: Taking Flight

Episode 3: Implementing the Run Game

Here is tonight’s new episode for your viewing pleasure.

First, it’s impossible not to love Kerry Coombs. The energy and passion that he brings to the job is incredible and comes across as genuine. The shot of him running to the end zone to go celebrate after a Logan Ryan pick 6 in practice was fantastic. I’m looking forward to getting to see him work in person when camp opens in a couple weeks.

One of Coombs’ points of emphasis was that the proverbial “game of inches” is particularly true in the secondary where those inches can be the difference between a pass break up and a completion. They intend to win those inches by making slight improvements to technique.

They also discussed the importance of conditioning, particularly when it comes to making those crucial game winning plays in the 4th quarter.

The episode also introduced us to the Titans sports dietician, Jill Merkel, and gave some insight in to how they design the player’s diets to fit their offseason goals. That’s something most probably take for granted from an NFL team — and it should be a given — but for a franchise that recently had former quarterback Matt Hasselbeck tell Sports Illustrated that the “organization was really bizarre, and so far behind in terms of nutrition and everything else”, it’s good to see them taking a more modern sports science approach to nutrition in particular.

The episode then wraps up with more quotes from Coombs, Pees, and members of the Titans secondary discussing how the group really goes out of their way to try to help each other improve. I think that mentality is primarily owed to two players: Logan Ryan and Kevin Byard. Those two seem to be natural leaders and both are known to be extremely hard workers on and off the field.

Malcolm Butler seems to be fitting right in and his feisty personality will bring some additional attitude and swagger to the entire DB group this fall. I’m kind of surprised to be saying this just two years removed from The Perrish Cox Experience, but I think I’m more confident in the defensive back position group than any other unit on the Titans roster heading in to 2018. Byard, Cyprien, Butler, Jackson, Ryan, and Sims have a chance to be a special unit.

This was also our first extended time with Dean Pees outside of a few scattered press conferences and I found him to be the calming “yin” to Coombs’ high energy “yang”. Many of his more notable quotes revolved around his expectations of elite effort over everything else. He wraps up the episode by saying that he wants his defense to play hard and play fast, which fall right in line with Mike Vrabel’s drumbeat of “know what to do, play fast and aggressive”.

Speaking of Vrabel, next week’s episode features his former position group as the linebackers take center stage. The preview gives glimpses of Vrabel being hands on with coaching this group. It also means we will likely get a look at the two big draft picks from the 2018 class, Rashaan Evans and Harold Landry (I still have to pinch myself every now and then to make sure it’s real).

This was probably my favorite episode yet, mostly due to the personalities. Coombs is probably the most interesting of the position coaches with his demeanor and many of the biggest player personalities on the team are in the secondary. The expectations should be pretty high for this group when camp starts in a couple weeks.