The acquisition of an NFL player represents an exciting time for the fan-base. That feeling gets magnified tenfold when the organization welcomes back a familiar face. A new addition can also serve as a sobering time for veterans, who watch their teams add their eventual replacements. Emotions were understandably high when the Titans brought in linebacker Avery Williamson earlier this week. Williamson was drafted by the Titans back in 2014, and spent the first four seasons of his professional career in Tennessee.
He now re-joins a Titans linebacker room that is in dire need of an upgrade in performance. One can make the argument that inside linebacker has been the Titans’ worst performing position through the first five weeks of the season. Coverage linebacker and team captain Jayon Brown has spent the majority of the year thus far on the mend. David Long has largely been a standout, but played a rather poor game against Jacksonville and their run-heavy approach in Week 5.
And now we reach Rashaan Evans, the fourth-year player who the Titans decided to decline the fifth-year option on. Evans entered a “put up or shut up” year in 2021, and has thus far failed to meet expectations.
The Titans won’t tell you that. In fact, defensive coordinator Shane Bowen ruffled some feathers when he largely gave Evans a stamp of approval on Thursday afternoon.
“We’ve asked him to continue to learn and understand what we’re doing, and I think he’s done that,” Bowen said. “He’s taken the next step there. I really wouldn’t say that last week was on him in terms of some of those plays.”
Expecting coaches to get up on the podium and throw a player under the bus is a fruitless hope.
In the NFL, which often stands for “Not For Long,” actions speak louder than words. The Titans just told you what they really think of Evans after they went out and signed a similar player just days after his poor performance in Week 5.
Williamson, like Evans, doesn’t excel in coverage. But he’s a better defender against the run than Evans hopes to be. While the Titans are searching for more consistency with their run fits and overall linebacker play, replacing Evans with Williamson in the starting lineup once the former Kentucky standout is up to speed may be the answer they’re looking for.
Just don’t expect them to verbalize it.