NASHVILLE, Tenn. – When Kevin Mawae was a free agent looking for a final stop in 2006, a team that had faced him twice a year during his eight seasons with the Jets wanted him.

Zach Thomas battled with Mawae on a twice-annual basis in the AFC East. The way Thomas remembers it, he was with coach Nick Saban at a dinner trying to court Mawae to Miami.

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“Saban asks me, he says, ‘Hey, Zach, what do you think his strengths are?’ Thomas remembers. “And I used to say a lot of the same stuff. And at the end, I said, ‘He’s a little nasty, he’s kind of a cheap-shot Christian, you know?’ And Nick said, ‘What’s that mean?’ [Unlocked]

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- My No. 1 wish for Arthur Smith as the Titans’ offensive coordinator is that he plugs into the No. 1 desire Jon Robinson had for Mike Vrabel when he hired the head coach: Find ways to maximize the talent.

Certainly, Smith needs more than the Titans have, and he needs Marcus Mariota to be healthier than he has been.LewanTampaIntro

But the Titans offense needs to find ways to get the good Mariota early and often, and the same goes for Derrick Henry and Corey Davis who need to be layered in with a recovered Delanie Walker.

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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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