General manager Jon Robinson made it very clear.
What the Tennessee Titans looked for in their coaching staff was continuity. And now they have that, as they head into the offseason with Shane Bowen and Todd Downing as defensive and offensive coordinator, respectively.
“When you have continuity with the staff, that is a good thing,” Robinson said this week.
To Robinson, retaining a large portion of the coaching staff from the year prior was a good sign. The promotion of Bowen to a full-time defensive coordinator role, however, left many fans perplexed.
After a full season of ambiguity on the subject, Titans head coach Mike Vrabel finally admitted at the end of the season that Bowen functioned as the defensive coordinator from start to finish. That unit failed unit finished 28th in overall yards allowed and 24th in points allowed. It also ranked 19th against the run and 29th against the pass, in comparison to the rest of the league. Add to that Bowen’s defense managed to finish last in sacks per pass attempt (3.02 percent) and third-down defense and the desire to keep things as they are does not make sense on every level.
“When it comes to the execution of defense, there is a lot of things that go into it,” Robinson said. “There is the call itself. There is the execution of the call. It’s the players on the field trying to execute the call. It’s more than just one thing when things go good and when things don’t go so good.”
Along those lines, Robinson is relying on “improving some of the calls, improving the execution of the calls and improving the personnel” for 2021.
On offense, the theme of continuity held up, as the organization promoted Downing from tight ends coach to coordinator.
It worked once before. Current Falcons head coach Arthur Smith was first Tennessee’s tight end coach before he was named offensive coordinator in 2019. The result was one of the NFL’s most dynamic offenses, scoring the fourth-most points in the league during the 2020 season.
In a statement when the moves were announced, Vrabel said that he was impressed with the detail Downing brought to the table and is “sure he will have some new ideas to implement, but the core system will be in place to build upon, which I think is important.”
What is clear is that Robinson thought the same way. If it’s worked before, it can again.
If things break the right way for Tennessee this offseason, the organization is set up for sustainable success.
And in promoting two coordinators from in-house, it’s apparent that Tennessee believes the coaching staff’s continuity coupled with the right off-season moves could set them apart heading into next season, particularly with a second straight offseason that likely will feature much virtual work.
“I think there’s a lot of players that took steps in the right direction. We won 11 games this past year, won the division for the first time in a long time,” Robinson said. “Guys improved, but we’ve got to continue to add players to the team. That’s what it’s about.
“… I’m excited about the continuity and look forward to improving in a lot of areas.”