The Tennessee Titans would benefit the most from hiring a veteran play-caller to be their new offensive coordinator.
Hiring a coordinator in the NFL forces teams to pick what they see as the lesser of two evils. They have to decide whether they want someone with experience and results who likely failed as a head coach or someone who is young and unproven with very little experience or results.
After losing Matt LaFleur to the Packers, the Titans will have to make that decision in the coming days and weeks. Based off of the way the team is set up and the situation they’re in, hiring a young coach to be their new play-caller on offense seems like a big risk.
The Titans’ coaching staff in 2018 featured a good bit of newness. They had a first-year head coach and a first-time play-caller.
As a result, the team had to endure a lot of growing pains. It took several weeks for LaFleur to get into the flow of calling plays, and head coach Mike Vrabel also made his share of mistakes.
That constant growth, in addition to the other times of adversity the Titans went through last season, provides the team with a valid excuse as to why they were not able to make the playoffs in 2018.
After all, switching to a new head coach, especially one that has never done it before, is tough. It’s going to take some time and, luckily, the Titans had some room for that last year.
Heading into 2019, things are different. Many view the upcoming season as a highly crucial one for quarterback Marcus Mariota, and the Titans will be expected to make the playoffs if they don’t have another avalanche of injuries.
For those reasons and others, the Titans cannot afford to let the 2019 season be a learning process. The clock is, in a sense, ticking.
That is why the Titans would be best served by hiring a veteran play-caller as their new offensive coordinator. They need someone who knows what they’re doing.
While there are plenty of younger coaches who would probably do well as play-callers, there are two big risks involved in hiring someone with inexperience that the Titans cannot afford to take.
Two Big Risks
For starters, there is always the chance that a young, up and coming coach is a total failure as a play-caller. The Titans don’t want to find themselves in a situation like the Vikings, who fired first-time play-caller John DeFilippo midway through the season due to underperformance.
They also don’t want to end up with another Terry Robiskie, a first-time play-caller who served as the Titans’ OC from 2016-2017. He was, for the most part, despised by fans for deploying what they saw as an archaic offensive philosophy.
The second risk is that a young play-caller, though he may be fit for the job and eventually have high levels of success, takes a while to figure things out. That is the boat LaFleur found himself in with the Titans.
Hire from within?
There is certainly an argument to be made for hiring a first-time play-caller from within the organization in an effort to increase continuity, but one of those hires would be subject to the same two aforementioned risks.
For these reasons, it would make the most sense for the Titans to hire a veteran play-caller who messed up somewhere as a head coach. It may not be a decision in favor of continuity or innovation, but those don’t necessarily need to be priorities for the Titans at this point.
What does need to be a priority, however, is stability. In a contract year, Mariota needs someone who can put him into positions to succeed from the opening kickoff of Week 1.
With the level of talent they have on the roster, the Titans are in a timeframe where they should be able to be competitive. They cannot afford to waste any of that time waiting for a young guy, from outside the organization or within, to figure things out.
Cover image: USA Today/Christopher Hanewinckel