The Tennessee Titans are a mess right now. On that one topic, I think we can all agree.
Mike Munchak (left) and current COO Mike Reinfeldt have deep rebuilding situation on their hands with the Titans.
The Titans have been put on “Bud Alert" after owner Bud Adams played the “outcoached” card again following Sunday’s 51-20 loss to the Chicago Bears.
Adams’ comments in a published report are essentially the same ones he made to Jeff Fisher in 2002 after a 1-4 start, and similar to how he reacted when the Titans lost 59-0 at New England in 2009.
The truth of the matter is the Titans didn’t get to this point overnight. It’s easy to point the finger at Mike Munchak, Chris Palmer and Jerry Gray, as well as the players and say they are to blame. And certainly, if things don’t improve, some combination of that coaching trio – and perhaps all three – could be gone at season’s end.
But that would only be treating the symptoms here. What has been going on with the franchise has infected the team for several years, and Adams even has a stake in it by being an absentee owner some 800 miles away. Because of his age and his lack of proximity to Nashville, Adams cannot handle and oversee the day-to-day fortunes of the Titans.
He has to put his trust in the people he hires to do their job.If you know Mike Munchak, you can be certain he is doing his absolute best to try and right the Titans ship before it is too late. Same thing for general manager Ruston Webster, who is in his first year on the job.
Not to go Barack Obama on the situation, but Munchak and Webster can blame some of the current shortcomings on the situation they inherited.
From 2006, when Floyd Reese was being pushed to the side as GM, to 2010 when Jeff Fisher’s tenure ended as head coach, the Titans didn’t do a very good job of drafting and developing players.
The tenure in which Fisher and current COO Mike Reinfeldt ran the drafts won’t go down in team history as being a very productive time period.
There were playoff appearances in ’07 and ’08, but since then, nothing.
On the current roster, most of which was built by that tandem, only three players have made a Pro Bowl appearance for the Titans – safety Michael Griffin (who even admits his play has fallen off this year), running back Chris Johnson and kicker Rob Bironas.
Let’s be honest here. The Titans team we are seeing now is probably the one we should have expected to see last year, and perhaps for the near future. It is the one Fisher saw coming, which probably helps to explain his hasty exit in 2010.
Last year, Munchak and the Titans somehow caught lightning in a bottle so to speak. The lockout sort of unexpectedly leveled the league playing field temporarily last year, and the Titans benefited greatly when Matt Hasselbeck came in and played beyond most people’s expectations.
But thus far this year, the Titans are reaping what was sown several years ago.
Going back to the lack of Pro Bowl picks, yes, it can be a bit of a popularity contest, but it isn’t a bad barometer to see how a franchise measures up in terms of player development.
There is a reason why the Patriots, Steelers, Giants, Ravens and Packers contend nearly ever year. And it isn’t because the pick near the top of the draft. They develop a style and philosophy and find the parts that fit it.
When they identify those players, and those players perform, they are rewarded with a contract extension before they ever see free agency. The players those organizations let go of are the replaceable parts.
Ask yourself this: What is the Titans identity right now on offense or defense and which players can they truly build around? When they need a play to be made, who do they count on to make it?
How many consistent game-changers do the Titans have on the field right now? Compare that with Charles Tillman and the half dozen or more players the Bears had on the field who made plays that directly affected the outcome of Sunday's game.
When you do that math, you will have your answer as to why the Titans season adds up to 3-6.