Titans no worse off than 2007 Falcons, and look at them now
The notion that the Titans franchise is in a state of complete and utter chaos is foolish.
Presumably this notion springs from the fact that for the past 16-plus seasons it has been anything but chaotic. Whether you loved Jeff Fisher or despised him, his was a steady hand. He gave away very little publicly, and his players almost always had his back. For crying out loud even his most problem of children rushed to his defense in the wake of his “parting ways” with the Titans.
Just because a franchise has lost a head coach and four assistants and has no discernible QB worth his salt we’re now supposed to believe this team is about to fall into a Raider-like abyss?
I suppose it could happen. Then again, it might not. This is about exactly where the Falcons were after the 2007 season. Actually, they were worse off. Arthur Blank looked like a moron for hiring Bobby Petrino from the University of Louisville. Petrino resigned 13 games into the season, with a 3-10 record, to take over at Arkansas. The players were mostly fine with it because they never liked him anyway.
Petrino ostensibly had taken the job for the chance to mold young quarterback Michael Vick. You might remember that Vick never took another snap for the Falcons. The Falcons used three starting QBs in 2007, immortals all: Joey Harrington (10 starts), Chris Redman (four) and Byron Leftwich (two). Harrington and Leftwich were gone after that season; Harrington never took another NFL snap.
The Titans used three QBs this past season: Vince Young (eight starts), Kerry Collins (seven) and rookie Rusty Smith (one). Only Smith remains under contract.
In Atlanta, DBs coach Emmit Thomas took the reins from Petrino for the final three games. He had been with the franchise before Petrino, and he survived after 2007, too. But everyone knew he wasn’t going to be the next coach.
So there were the Falcons – no head coach, no QB and an owner who had signed Petrino for five years and $24 million. Maybe Bud Adams has allowed some dumb things to happen recently if Fisher re-upped defensive coordinator Chuck Cecil then fired him and extended all of his assistants without front-office knowledge, but he has never hired Bobby Petrino.
The Falcons hired Patriots Director of College Scouting Thomas Dimitroff to be general manager and Jaguars defensive coordinator Mike Smith as head coach. The fan base went, “Who? What? Huh? This is how we’re going to recover from a college coach and a QB with a pitbull empire?” Dimitroff and Smith proceeded to take Matt Ryan with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2008 draft.
Three years later the Falcons have compiled a 33-15 record and have made the playoffs twice. They had the best record in the NFC this season (13-3).
I believe any potential Titans head-coaching candidate should look at this franchise and see a lot of positives. Four openings on the staff? Great, I can hire my own people without a lot of frustration or aggravation. We need a QB? Fine, we have the No. 8 pick in the draft.
Arguably your three best players – RB Chris Johnson, WR Kenny Britt and DT Jason Jones – will be 25 or younger when the 2011 season starts. There are more promising young players, too – DE Derrick Morgan, the 2010 first-round pick, return specialist Marc Mariani, who made the Pro Bowl as a rookie this season, and CB Alterraun Verner, another member of the 2010 draft class who emerged as a starter.
Now, I’m not saying the Titans are in an enviable position. Far from it. But I’m at least saying I don’t think they’ll have a draft position in 2012 any worse than what it is this year.
You want a franchise truly in chaos? Ask yourself this: Would I trade the Titans organization – owner, front office, coaches and players – for this franchise, even with its head coach in place? The quarterback is only 31 and he’d rather retire than stay. The starting receivers are more in tune with reality TV than actual reality. The offensive coordinator was fired on Monday. You harped on Fisher for having only six winning records in 16 seasons and his .542 winning percentage; this coach has two in eight seasons and wins at a .469 clip and the franchise signed him to an extension!
The Titans certainly face a challenge. Yes, it’s a big one. But Chaos, thy name is Cincinnati.