Titans finally going forward

This would have been a crazy statement just a few months ago, given the way the Tennessee Titans dismal 2012 season ended.

GM Ruston Webster and Coach Mike Munchak may have the Titans pointed in the right direction with additions like Alabama's Chance Warmack.

But, with the draft just concluded and free agency largely in the rearview mirror, the Titans’ organization looks stronger and more stable than it has in quite some time.

Whether all these signings and draft picks translate into victories on the field for the Titans this fall certainly remains to be seen, but even the most jaded of fans would have to admit that for the first time in a long time, one can see an identity and a direction taking shape for this organization.

Credit general manager Ruston Webster, now freed from the shadows of Mike Reinfeldt, with a lot of the stabilizing and improvement. He and Coach Mike Munchak have gotten on the same page in order to try and fix what has gone wrong with this team over the past four to five seasons.

In fact, it can argued now that the Titans probably haven’t been in this good of shape front office and coaching-wise together since Floyd Reese and Jeff Fisher were rowing in the same direction about a decade ago.

We saw what happened after their tolerance of each other ended somewhere around 2004 – salary cap jail, Fisher winning the power struggle with Reese, owner Bud Adams’ meddling into situations like drafting Vince Young, the terrible drafts and free agent signings by Reinfeldt as GM, the decision not to franchise Albert Haynesworth a second year. And the list goes on.

When added together, it helps to explain why the bottom fell out of this organization last year with a team that on many Sundays was down 21-3 before you took the first bite of your lunch.

Webster went out and signed 12 free agents this off-season, and on draft weekend, added two or three other players who can step right into the lineup and contribute from day one.

And while I think many would have liked to have seen an impact defensive player plucked from free agency or the draft, it’s hard to argue that bringing in veterans like Andy Levitre, Delanie Walker and Bernard Pollard, plus rookies like Chance Warmack and Justin Hunter, can’t help but make the team better and more competitive in 2013.

I asked Webster after the draft, about the organization’s unusual aggressiveness out of the gate this off-season, which he said was by design. It had to happen in order to right many of the wrongs that had been done over the past several years.

“I think it was necessary. I think every year is different in how you handle it. It depends on your team and where you are as a team,” Webster said. “As for the move up for (Justin) Hunter, that was just something sitting out there for us. We felt like it was something we really needed to do.

“Overall, the aggressiveness we had this offseason was driven by the need to improve the team. There are probably different ways to do it every year depending on where your team is it can be a little different. This year that was necessary.”

Munchak agrees that perhaps things are finally being put into place to make the Titans able to compete again.

“I think when we have had a couple of years to put a staff and group together. Three drafts now, since I have been the head coach, so you get the chance to bring in the kind of guys you want in free agency,” Munchak said. “This past year, we did the same, so yeah we think we have definitely created in almost all the situations where we have upped the talent level. I think these guys will push each other which will be good for the whole team. Definitely, since I think the season ended we have done a really good job as a group, as an organization, put some great people in this room.

“I think the players saw that last week when they came to town with the changes we made in free agency. This group of eight guys here will also do the same, I think came in with a lot of talent, speed. I think the question is how quickly will they help us. But I think a lot of guys have the ability to do that right away.”

The proof, of course, will be in how quickly this team jells and in answering certain questions that still surround the Titans . Can Jake Locker take a big step forward? What will Gregg Williams do to fix the defense? But you at least get the feeling that the organization is going forward again.

“I think Munch and I talked and we feel good about it. We feel good about where we are as a team right now,” Webster said. “You never know until you get everybody out on the field and kind of see how it all works. There is a lot of water to go under the bridge until the season, but we had a plan. We worked together on the plan, and I think we were able to kind of get it done like we wanted to.”

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