Next version of the Titans needs to be meaner

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The 2018 Tennessee Titans didn’t seem mean enough to me, and it was evidenced by two things:

The first was that beyond Taylor Lewan players had a hard time naming a mean football guy.

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The second was that at the Senior Bowl recently Jon Robinson told Jim Wyatt he was looking to add a trait to the string of words he typically uses to characterize the sort of players he wants to compose the Titans’ roster. He has often said he was tough, dependable, team-first, physical guys.  

“We’re looking for smart, fast, and nasty,” Robinson told Wyatt. “Maybe I’ll add 'nasty' to my (list).”

It’s a wise move.

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Pickers mailbag: The Titans and 'riskier' personnel moves

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Hope you're having a big weekend. I'm getting ready for a Monday departure to Atlanta, Tuesday's big 50th birthday, a glorious week on Radio Row and what should be a fascinating Pro Football Hall of Fame selection meeting.HelmetsBlue

I got some very interesting mailbag questions this week and think they make for an enjoyable read.

PK: Define riskier? I’m guessing you are talking about going and getting someone like Antonio Brown. He’d give

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – On our private Facebook page, Brett Gordon recently posted this:

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I was initially dismissive, which is a dangerous default setting I need to do better to fight.

There are certain things a GM needs to get any coach, and so picking one of the NFL’s best safeties in Kevin Byard was the right move no matter who Jon Robinson’s coach was.

But on a lower level, Brett is onto something, at least for a few players. I don't think it was on a scale to set things back much once Mike Vrabel was hired. I think.

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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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