The Tennessee Titans made the playoffs in 2017 and advanced past the wild card round, but it wasn’t enough to keep head coach Mike Mularkey in Nashville.
Tennessee elected to make wholesale changes to the coaching staff, bringing in former Houston Texans defensive coordinator Mike Vrabel to captain the ship.
The hiring of a new head coach, after the Titans won their first playoff game since 2003, sends the signal that simply reaching the playoffs isn’t enough for the Nashville based franchise.
Vrabel and his coaching staff will be expected to take the Titans deep into the playoffs on a routine basis. Anything less won’t be accepted.
ESPN, however, believes it could take some time before the Titans reach that level. In a recent poll of 22 experts, the Titans were selected as the team (tied with the Carolina Panthers) that reached the playoffs in 2017 that’s most likely to miss the playoffs this upcoming season.
Here’s what they have to say about Tennessee:
The Titans made significant changes in hopes of taking them, and specifically quarterback Marcus Mariota, to the next level. The big question is how long it will take Mike Vrabel and new offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur to maximize this unit, and whether it will be enough to repeat as a playoff team in 2018. The AFC South might be the conference’s strongest division with star quarterbacks — Deshaun Watson, Andrew Luck — expected to return from injuries. It wouldn’t be hard for the Titans to make progress but still miss the playoffs. The Titans made smart offseason moves, but they still lack proven elite star power. All eyes are on Mariota’s development under LaFleur, and if it is slower than expected, that could lead to a non-playoff season.
I get what ESPN is saying, and I think they’re on point here.
It’s very possible that Tennessee could improve their win/loss record in 2018 and miss out on the playoffs. There’s a ton of parity in the AFC South right now. Any of the teams could win the division (even the Colts, if Andrew Luck is actually healthy).
Of course, it’s also possible the Titans take off like the Los Angeles Rams did last season.
There’s really no way to tell how Vrabel will fare in his first season as a head coach.
He could be Sean McVay and take the division by storm, or it might take him a year or two to find his footing as a head coach.
Featured image via USA Today