Zach Lyons is a NFL Senior Contributor for Broadway Sports. He is also Co-Host of the wildly popular, award winning, and world renowned podcast, “A Football & Other F Words”, new episodes released every Wednesday wherever you get your podcasts.. He’s also a co-host for Nashville’s first ever football only show with a global reach, “A Football Show”. “A Football Show” airs LIVE every Monday and Thursday at 1p CST. Subscribe and turn on notifications here.
The Tennessee Titans regular season is mercifully over, after they extended their losing streak to seven games with a loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars. I cannot express enough how glad I am that this team has finally been put out of its misery and can head into the offseason with lots of chances to refresh this team and change its trajectory for the better.
Don’t get me wrong, I would’ve loved for the Titans to have won four or three of the games during their losing streak, but this team just crumbled down the stretch. If you’re also truly honest with yourself, like I was, we all saw the end result coming for a while now. While I thought the season would end in a meaningless round one playoff loss, this is essentially the same thing.
Kind of like Russell Wilson’s season, I expected it to be bad after the Bills game, but not this bad. However, the team now basically gets to start over. For you HBO fans out there, The Titans 2019-2020 was True Detective Season One, 2021-22 was True Detective Season Two, and now the Titans have a chance to right the ship and give us a satisfying third act. A semi-reset with an emphasis on the players and getting back to basics.
This has been two seasons in a row where Vrabel has had to put lipstick on a pig, and ultimately the team just couldn’t cut it. Robinson saddled Vrabel with so many below average players that had to play pivotal roles, and it’s time for the next general manager to constructing a roster filled with better depth players instead of focusing on overpaying one or two big free agents.
That was a problem that has bitten this team in the ass, there was no in-between with Jon Robinson. He either took big swings on free agents or acquired D- players. Ultimately that led to a roster lacking in depth that has enough players that can step in and help out when their name is called.
Vrabel is not without fault. You can probably pin Clowney and Cunningham on Vrabel. You can also say he should’ve just thrown Radunz out there, who never showed up in practice or the offseason as anything notable, at left tackle over Daley. I agree with all of that, but it’s also Robinson’s job to draft a better player than Radunz.
Radunz was just a guy from North Dakota State who hadn’t played football for a year outside of one game, when he got drafted. That’s not a player you should be spending a second round pick on. He never amounted to anything, because all reports indicate he has no competitive spirit.
It’s time for a complete overhaul of the defensive backs. Outside of Farley, no corner back was taller than 5’11”. On top of that, he drafts McCreary who has the arms of an infant. This was just bad drafting. It all stems from that, because this team is in desperate need of quality, young players to step in and step up, and all season long they didn’t really have that.
Fans need to strap in. This team is not going to tank. It is not in Vrabel’s DNA. In fact, 2023 Titans team will be better than this one. They will have more wins. You can book it. I fully believe this team will get back on track fairly easily. They’re already set up with a better schedule. They’ll only have to face one of the Cincinnati Bengals, Kansas City Chiefs, and Buffalo Bills. That team is the Bengals. Then they get to face the entirety of the NFC South next year.
So they’re already going to have an easier schedule on top of their own division, and the Jaguars will have to face the Chiefs, Bengals, and Bills next year. People can believe in the hype that is the Jaguars, but they’re currently sitting at $19.9m OVER the cap. I also don’t believe what have been career role-players, will suddenly sustain their top end, hot streak performances.
I think the path is pretty clear that this team can get to a winning record fairly easily, just because Vrabel is going to get someone he is more in-sync with as GM, going to get better young players that aren’t high risk, and have more input on how the roster is constructed in free agency. I personally think having his input be more weighted is a good thing, but again, I believe in Mike Vrabel as a great football mind.
If I had to make a comparison, I would look to the Tomlin led Steelers in 2022. They were in a quick rebuilding mode:
- New QB
- New OL
- Extremely young offense
That looks like what the Titans will possibly look like in 2023, and Tomlin got the team to 9-8 and they barely missed the playoffs. Let’s be honest, like really honest, the Titans hadn’t looked like a playoff team since Green Bay, and even then they were a one and done playoff team. The Steelers didn’t either, but for those looking for hope, that is your hope.
I’ve always though Vrabel and Tomlin were similar coaches in the way they can win with almost anything thrown at them. The Titans should be in a better situation than the Steelers in terms of quarterback and offensive coordinators, but either way, it’s the perfect example of a soft rebuild still keeping you in games, and getting you a winning record.
I think this team overall can look better, roster wise, than the 2022 Steelers. This team only needed a NFL average to below average offensive line, instead of by far the worst offensive line. However, it definitely needs its injury luck to change. Two years in a row with severe and lingering injuries that kept key players out too long. This needs to be a big focus. Step one, would not be bringing in players recovering from injury or have an injury history. Step two, would be redoing the entirety of the strength and condition/medical staff. It’s that simple.
Ultimately, this is a good thing for this team. A new General Manager, a high draft pick, fairly easy decisions to be made on both the staff and roster. A lot can go right, and this team can get right quickly. That is, if you believe in Mike Vrabel, and I am one of those people that do. We have all offseason to talk about whether this roster is headed for a retool or rebuild, the free agents they can sign, the draft prospects they’ll be interested, etc etc. And I’ll be with you every step of the way.