NASHVILLE, Tenn. — When you need groceries, you go to the grocery store. When you need gas, you go to the gas station. When your grass gets too tall, you mow it.
And, in the NFL, when your team is plagued by a persistent and glaring problem, you make moves to get it fixed.
That’s precisely what Tennessee Titans general manager Jon Robinson accomplished by trading for CB Desmond King, and by releasing CB Johnathan Joseph and OLB Vic Beasley.
A PROBLEM TO FIX
Robinson: We don’t make moves to send messages. We make moves to win football games. #Titans
— AtoZSports Nashville (@AtoZSports) November 4, 2020
The Titans’ defense has been the NFL’s worst on third downs in 2020. In the team’s two most recent games, both losses, opponents converted a combined 23 of 33 third downs for a rate of nearly 70%.
Those performances came after weeks of head coach Mike Vrabel, other members of the coaching staff and players repeatedly saying that the solution to these problems would come with better communication and practice habits.
When those off-field efforts proved futile and the Titans’ third-down woes snowballed, Robinson jumped in. By the end of Tuesday, two days after the Titans’ embarrassing 31-20 loss to Cincinnati, Robinson released two defensive starters and traded for a new one.
“Those aren’t easy decisions for me to make but they’re what I’m charged to do, to make changes when we, as an organization, as a team, collectively feel that’s what’s in the best interest,” Robinson said.
OBVIOUS MOVES FOR THE TITANS
Robinson’s decisions following the Bengals game couldn’t have been that difficult, though.
The first starter Robinson released, 36-year-old Joseph, was abused in just about every game he played in for the Titans. The former Pro Bowler just had no gas left in the tank, and it showed.
The other, Beasley, will go down as arguably the worst free-agent signing in Titans history. He made $9.5 million and all the team got out of him was a mysterious 10-day absence from Training Camp, five games and zero sacks.
“Not every decision that we make works out,” Robinson said. “We spent a lot of time working with him, trying to get him going.
“It’s frustrating for me that it didn’t work out, at the end of the day that’s on me that it didn’t work out.”
King, who Robinson traded for, is a former All-Pro slot cornerback and punt returner. Acquiring him cost only a sixth-round pick, making that deal a bargain for the Titans regardless of how King performs.
IT HAD TO HAPPEN
Desmond King is 25 y/o, an 11-year difference from Joseph. He was a first-team All-Pro in 2018 as a corner, and he has four punt return touchdowns in his career.
This is a player who can help the #Titans immediately in several different ways. This team just got a lot better.
— Luke Worsham (@luke_worsham) November 2, 2020
These aren’t decisions that Robinson should be overly praised for. The moves he made were obvious. They had to happen.
Continuing down the maddening path of hoping for improvement with the same personnel would have been absolutely asinine for the Titans. Doing so would’ve entered them into the territory of Einstein’s definition of insanity.
Whether the addition of King and the removal of Joseph and Beasley will help the Titans’ defense remains to be seen, but you can go ahead and chalk these moves up as net positive for the Titans.
Things cannot possibly get worse for the team’s currently horrific third-down defense, so why not try something new?
That’s precisely what Robinson did, but he really had no choice. The decisions were obvious, and he would’ve deserved scorn had he not made them.
Cover image: Brad Rempel, Christopher Hanewinckel, Kirby Lee / USA Today