NASHVILLE, Tenn. — I often disparage the Tennessee Titans for being one of the NFL’s quantifiably least interesting teams. Nothing personal, I just wish my professional life had a little more zest to it than Nashville’s NFL team historically provides both on and off the field.
What I yearn for are deemed distractions in pro football circles and the Titans, to their credit, have almost none. Yes, quarterback Marcus Mariota’s health and performance are always easy talking points and left tackle Taylor Lewan is good for a laugh and a podcast. But in terms of malcontents, front office disarray, coaching instability or contract disputes, the 2019 Titans have done well in avoiding or quelling any issues that might arise.
The same cannot be said for two AFC South bedfellows in Jacksonville and Houston.
When Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey met with the media ahead of his team’s minicamp last week, the Tennessee native said that he and his agent had already been informed there would be no extension on his rookie deal this year. Ramsey is in the fourth year of his contract and had the fifth-year option picked up for 2020.
Ramsey was not openly combative on the heals of this news but did make it clear in an Instagram Live video with teammate Leonard Fournette that there would be no future discounts for the home team.
#Jaguars Star CB Jalen Ramsey, who was told by the team they won’t give him a new deal this year, was captured talking to RB Leonard Fournette about his next contract
He said he won’t give the #Jaguars any discount, unlike last year
“It’s up this year.”pic.twitter.com/OLDuSbzwLJ
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) June 14, 2019
So, you have two players that are arguably the faces of your franchise conversing on a live streaming platform about future contract situation. I am delighted as a media member but horrified if I’m a member of the Jaguars front office.
Speaking of front offices…
— Texans PR (@TexansPR) June 14, 2019
The Texans fired GM Brian Gaine roughly a year and a half after being hired to work alongside coach Bill O’Brien. In doing so, BoB opted to pursue an old friend to fill the role from his time with New England, Nick Caserio, Patriots director of player personnel. Someone on Houston’s end, however, botched the shady side of these NFL dealings and the franchise got slapped with tampering charges from, of all teams, New England.
The result was the above statement from team chairman and CEO Cal McNair.
Gaine’s hire game on the heels of plenty of leaks to the media about a rift between O’Brien and Gaine’s predecessor Rick Smith. The head coach won the power struggle and now appears to have come out on the winning side of another, citing communication issues. USA TODAY Sports then broke a story about Jeff Pope, a former security coordinator for Houston, saying he was fired by Gaine on the basis of his “race and color” and was not the only one “targeted” by Gaine.
That investigation is still ongoing and may prove true, but these stories should always be approached with a healthy skepticism as to whom stands to benefit most from the headlines. Let’s at least try to be a little more subtle, BoB.
Moral of the story: the Jacksonville Jaguars and Houston Texans are in the news cycle for all the wrong reasons in 2019. Both teams give off an air of instability. That may dissipate before meaningful football resumes in training camp this July and both locker rooms have proven to sport enough talent to overcome the likes of the anchor that was Blake Bortles and a Texans’ offensive line that looked hell bent on killing DeShaun Watson in 2018.
Still, there appears to be a lack of focus and organizational cohesion in Jacksonville and Houston. The same cannot be said in Tennessee.