In Mike Mularkey’s final season as the Tennessee Titans head coach the team went 9-7 and beat the Kansas City Chiefs in the wild card round of the playoffs. The rumor was that after the season he was told he had to fire offensive coordinator Terry Robiskie or lose his job. He wouldn’t fire Robiskie and lost his job. Was it that simple? We don’t really know the answer to that, but there were multiple reports at the time that suggested that was how it went down.
We find ourselves in a very similar situation with Mike Vrabel and Todd Downing. It is clear to anyone who has ever watched more than two football games that Downing has no sense of how to call plays in a game as it develops. The opening scripts have been great, but his ability to figure out the flow of the game is beyond terrible. There are a million examples over the last two years, but nothing illustrates the point better than this from yesterday:
Go to the bottom of the screenshot that Austin posted. Derrick Henry has a punishing 13-yard run to give the Titans first and 10 at the Los Angeles Chargers' 25-yard line. It was the perfect time to feed The King. Especially considering you have a hobbled quarterback, an offensive line that is terrible at pass blocking, and the Chargers have a terrible run defense. Keep handing it to your best player until they prove they can stop him. It’s the easiest call you can ever have as an OC.
What does Downing call? A pass that predictably ends with a sack. That puts the Titans behind the sticks and you have pretty much conceded that the best you are going to come away with is a field goal.
He does that stuff all the time. And then there is the fact that on two different 3rd and 2s yesterday Henry was on the sideline. Again, this is stuff that should be so simple.
Vrabel has his reasons for continuing to let Downing call plays this year when he has a guy on the staff in Tim Kelly that has been successful calling plays in the past. I don’t know what those reasons could possibly be, but they are apparently there. What wouldn’t be acceptable would be to let Downing continue as the OC after the season. He has proven time and time again that he isn’t good.
There is no doubt Vrabel is a great coach. He has proven that over the last couple of years by winning games with all of the injuries this team has suffered. With that being said, he isn’t so good that he can overcome such an incompetent OC. If he isn’t willing to make that change, there needs to be some serious thought about whether or not he is the right guy to lead this team.