If you’ve ever been on a rollercoaster, you would know how it felt to be a Tennessee Titans fan in 2019. A rocky 2-4 start culminated in the end of the glorious Marcus Mariota era, and the rise of Ryan Tannehill, who General Manager Jon Robinson traded for in the previous offseason.
Tannehill then led the Titans to a hot 7-3 end to the regular season and an AFC Championship appearance. The offense was on fire, and it was the most entertaining Titans team we have seen in a long time.
An insider would look at that and see reason for excitement. An outsider may look at that and see a fluke of a team, that just had one breakout season. They may say Titans fans have too much hope in a team that just got lucky.
Titans fans are the most delusional fan base out there heading into 2020. It’s so hilarious. Went 9-7, beat a Pats team who needed me at WR, dominated the Ravens (good work) and then got blasted by the Chiefs. The confidence level doesn’t match the roster.
— Geoff Schwartz (@geoffschwartz) July 12, 2020
But what if I told you the 2019 season was a product of good management and great team building? A product of young players finally getting it, and hitting their stride?
Let me explain. The Titans experienced very poor management from 2012 to about 2015. The Titans were under the management of former general manager Ruston Webster.
Webster’s four 1st Round picks during his very short career were Mariota (2015) Taylor Lewan (2014), Chance Warmack (2013), and Kendall Wright (2012). A lot of Webster’s picks throughout his career didn’t pan out. Lewan being the lone exception.
Those years of poor management sunk the Titans to one of the NFL’s worst franchises. In years 2014 and 2015, they won a combined 5 games. They did not finish above .500 once during Webster’s tenure.
I met Webster, he is a fantastic man. But, his managing and drafting sent Tennessee spiraling into the dirt. He was fired after the 2015 season, and in came the savior, Jon Robinson, to replace him.
Ever since Robinson stepped foot in the Titans organization, it has been drastically changed for the better. Robinson was hired by new controlling-ownership, more notably Amy Adams Strunk, and they all had one goal in mind: change the culture.
Robinson’s first order of business was to change the culture and the look of the team. That led to decisions of remodeling the Titans’ headquarters and even changing the uniforms.
Jon Robinson’s structure of the roster has been nothing short of impressive. In his first offseason in 2016, he traded for running back DeMarco Murray, drafted running back Derrick Henry and safety Kevin Byard. Not only did Murray end up being one of the NFL’s top rushers that season, but now Derrick Henry has filled his shoes well and Byard has grown into one of the best safeties in football.
In 2017, Robinson continued his prolific roster building by drafting cornerback Adoree Jackson, tight end Jonnu Smith, and linebacker Jayon Brown. In 2018, Robinson drafted linebackers Rashaan Evans and Harold Landry.
Do you get the idea? Every single offseason, to fix the disaster that was 2012-2015, Robinson has added key pieces to the team. He has taken the Titans from one of the worse teams with no identity to one that is physical, fast, and competitive.
The addition of guys like Lewan, Henry, offensive tackle Isaiah Wilson, and defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons represents the size Robinson wants in his Titans. Wide receiver AJ Brown and tight end Jonnu Smith represents the speed and physicality Robinson likes in his Titans.
The well-constructed, intentional build of this Titans roster is why 2019 happened. The roster is being built intelligently with guys who compliment one another, and in 2019, it finally came together for Tennessee.
The consecutive years of 9-7 was a product of this team trying to recover from the Webster era. The 2019 run was an official welcoming into the Jon Robinson – Mike Vrabel era. So, the fans have good reason to be excited about this 9-7 team, because this 9-7 Tennessee Titans team is built different.
Featured image by Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports