The Titans searches for new coordinators came to an end today as the team announced that they are promoting tight ends coach Todd Downing to offensive coordinator and moving outside linebackers coach Shane Bowen officially into the defensive coordinator role.
They are also going to be backfilling the tight ends and outside linebacker coaching positions from within as Luke Steckel is going to be moving up to handle the tight end room while Ryan Crow moves from assistant special teams coach to outside linebackers.
Let’s focus on the coordinators for now though…
Downing joined the Titans two years ago, filling the tight ends coaching void created when Arthur Smith was promoted to offensive coordinator. His work with Jonnu Smith, Anthony Firkser, MyCole Pruitt, and Geoff Swaim has been pretty impressive over the last couple years, but he also brings some playcalling experience to the table after serving as the Raiders OC in 2017. That season didn’t go great in Oakland, but there is a lot of context around that year that Zach Lyons has broken down in detail here.
His promotion makes a lot of sense. The Titans offense has been fantastic over the last two years and giving the keys to someone who can build on that foundation is logical, especially when that person has previous experience as a playcaller.
The promotion that makes less sense is Bowen, who served as the Titans defensive playcaller in 2020. Tennessee’s defense nosedived from 18th in defensive DVOA to 29th under Bowen and famously finished dead last in third down defense and 30th in red zone defense.
In fairness to Bowen, there were some personnel changes on the defensive side of the ball that impacted those struggles. Logan Ryan and Jurrell Casey both left during the 2020 offseason and the Titans reinforcements failed. Jadeveon Clowney and Kristian Fulton both struggled to stay healthy long enough to make a real impact while Vic Beasley was a total no-show both on and off the field.
Promoting Bowen tells us that the Titans believe the main cause of their struggles were personnel driven. Whether they’re right or wrong remains to be seen, but I do know this… we better see some major changes on the defense during this offseason. What they put on the field in 2020 was a total embarrassment and if it’s repeated in 2021, Mike Vrabel will have nobody to blame but himself after doubling down on Bowen.
We’ll have more coverage of the Titans coaching moves here on Broadway Sports shortly… stay tuned.