Matt LaFleur wanted Arthur Smith in Green Bay, offers ringing endorsement of Titans' new coordinator

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The guy Arthur Smith is replacing as the Titans' offensive coordinator could not have better things to say about Smith.

“Of course I would have loved to have had him here,” Green Bay Packers coach Matt LaFleur said. “But I knew there was no way he was going to get out of that building."

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“I just have a lot of respect for him. Not only as a football coach, but as a man. I think he is of the highest character. He’s a good family man, he loves his wife and kids, he’s a fun guy to be around. I think he is exactly what you look for when you are trying to hire people.”

One former Titans offensive coach told me “LaFleur better have an Arthur in Green Bay."

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Arthur Smith, who started out as a defensive quality control coach and worked his way up to tight ends coach, is the Titans’ new offensive coordinator.

Three outsiders were also considered.

In hiring from the inside, Mike Vrabel maintains some continuity. He also rewards a coach who’s won the trust of four head coaches, promotes a guy who worked his way up from the very bottom despite coming from a very comfortable family situation and goes with an insider who's won rave reviews from some who’ve coached with him in Nashville in the past.ArthurSmith

I wrote a bit when many automatically presumed Pat O’Hara would be the in-house candidate about how they should be looking at Smith instead. [Unlocked]

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Amid championship-game penalty talk, a look at what the Titans did, and didn't do

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – With the giant no-call in the NFC Championship Game doing its share to help the Rams to the Super Bowl, officiating and penalties will be the primary conversation Monday.

That got me thinking about what the Titans did and did not do in the penalty department in 2018.OfficialsMeeting

We probably did not praise them enough for being the least penalized team in the NFL. With 82 penalties. Carolina and Minnesota were the second-least penalized teams, and they finished with 92. That’s a significant gap.

From combing through the excellent web site nflpenalties.com, here are some nuggets that surprised me about the Titans.

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Pickers mailbag: Have Titans' DL decisions been as bad or worse as WR?

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Hey, hey. Thanks for coming to the mailbag.

Have held off on a Periscope/FacebookLive in case of coordinator news, but I will steer you to this week's excellent podcast.

 Let's hit the best things you asked.

PK: Among guys who finished this year on the roster, there were not many good ones. They drafted DaQuan Jones in the fourth round in 2014. He just played what I thought was his worst season, right on the heels of a new contract. They drafted Austin Johnson in the second-round in 2016. They signed Bennie Logan as a free agent in 2018. They found Darius Kilgo as a journeyman and Matt Dickerson as an undrafted free agent.

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A poor group. Previous failures include bust Kevin Dodd as a second-rounder, Sylvester Williams as an over-priced one-year free agent dud. Angelo Blackson didn’t pan out. They traded a very low pick for David King who didn’t do much and then didn’t make the team the following year. They let undrafted fine Antwaun Woods go, and he played well in Dallas this season. Al Woods was a better player than people they signed after parting with him.

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YAZOO PODCAST: The Titans' five worst contracts

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Odds are you can guess what I'd rate as the Titans' worst contract.

But how about the franchise's five worst/most troublesome contracts? I talk through all the contract details and hash them out along with playing time, statistical production, Pro Football Focus grades, and where their salaries rank on the team and in the league.

I'd love to hear your feedback and perhaps we'll have some debate about my placement.

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Thanks to Party Fowl, which hosted the recording session.

You can find it on iTunes, here, or directly through the Vokal website, here. Feel free to hook us up with a rating and review on iTunes.

If you're a member of the site, Part 1 and Part 2 are together, and all you have to do is head below the line.

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Arthur Smith on Titans' short list for offensive coordinator and what else I now know about the search

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Titans incredibly quiet search for a replacement for Matt LaFleur as offensive coordinator continues, and multiple league sources have heard nary a rumor about what direction Mike Vrabel is heading.

He and the Titans are incredibly good at keeping secrets.

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Three small things I've been able to cobble together:

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A thorough review of the Titans' game-day experience at Nissan Stadium

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- I've spent a good deal of time recently discussing the game-day experience at Nissan Stadium with members of this site and with the Titans in order to compile what I hope is a wide-ranging review complete with suggestions on how the team and Nissan Stadium can continue to make it better.

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Season ticket holders lining up to greet players as they leave the locker room and greet the fans is a great feature at Nissan Stadium. Photo courtesy of Wade Dunn.

Let's dig right in.

Replays: The Titans got new equipment for the 2018 season, but they hardly mastered it despite additional hires. They feel they got better, but know they are not as good as they need to be. Nissan Stadium has eight to 12 camera stations plus portables and the equipment amounts to having additional DVRs. But the quickness, the accuracy and the angles were not there.

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My Pro Football Writers of America awards and All-NFL ballot

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Pro Football Writers of America gives its members some time to fill out ballots for postseason awards and All-NFL Team.

I appreciate that because I am a procrastinator and because I inevitably get stuck on a few spots which I wind up first debating with friends and then taking to a scout or two to make sure I’m on an OK track.PFWAlogo

Postseason awards have gotten a bit more complicated in recent years as positions have blended.

All-Pro is pretty straight forward and it’s why it’s the most coveted award. One guy at each position where one guy plays, two where two play on the first team, and same on the second. Cut and dried.

But the positional grouping is tough on defense. Defensive fronts have gotten complicated. So the Associated Press, which runs All-Pro, created edge rusher, interior line and linebacker baskets.

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