NASHVILLE, Tenn. – We tend to make it sound too easy, I suppose.

All the Titans need is a major impact pass rusher to really throw their defense over the top.LandryCelebrateEagles

But whoever the new coordinator is needs the same missing ingredient that’s held the defense back for too long: A premier pass rusher that regularly puts pressure on the quarterback and demands attention that helps free up other people.

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No surprise: Taylor Lewan, Rodger Saffold see big dollars in Derrick Henry's future, hope it's in Nashville

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Titans' two best offensive linemen unsurprisingly want the NFL’s rushing leader back doing his work behind them, and they hope Tennessee will pay what it costs to keep Derrick Henry.HENRYafccKC

“He’s done tremendous things, so he’s earned every dollar that he gets and I hope that it’s with this team because I think that we know exactly how to block for him to continue to make him successful,” Rodger Saffold said.

Henry ran for a league-high 1,540 yards in the regular season with 16 touchdowns, adding two more on receptions. In the postseason he upped his average per carry to 5.4 with 446 more yards.

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A day after losing in the AFC Championship Game, Mike Vrabel has two holes on his defensive staff, neither as a result of his own wishes.

Veteran defensive coordinator Dean Pees, 70, announced his retirement at the press-conference podium before Vrabel discussed the end of the season.PeesBAL

“I talked him out of retirement once,” Vrabel said of Pees, for whom he played in New England. “I didn’t have the heart to do it a second time.”

Also leaving is secondary coach Kerry Coombs, who returns to Ohio State, where he will be the new defensive coordinator. [Unlocked]

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By BLAKE BEDDINGFIELD, special correspondent

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- It was going to take a well-executed game plan by the Titans to beat the high-scoring Chiefs, but the Titans were not able to adjust when their offensive identity was taken away.

The second-half game plan of the Chiefs was similar to what the Titans did to the Ravens and Patriots.HenryDefenseKC

Lack of offensive plays (23 for Titans vs. 37 for Chiefs) in the second half, kept the Titans offense on the bench and the Chiefs defense resting on their sideline.

Once the Chiefs took the lead the Titans had to adjust from run-heavy to more of a passing attack.

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While 2020 Titans start from zero, they see momentum, respect ahead

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Teams don’t generally just pick up where they left off.

The Titans will break up Monday and go their separate ways for several months before reconvening in any official form.CDavisKC19

Then voluntary offseason training activities start from the very beginning, with pages of iPad playbooks to be revised and relearned and the Super Bowl thousands of practice and game snaps away.

But after the 2019 season came to its abrupt end for the Titans Sunday in the AFC Championship Game at Arrowhead Stadium, Kenny Vaccaro was unwilling to wash it away that way.

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The formula that carried the Titans to Arrowhead Stadium for the AFC Championship Game faltered, and well after the Super-Bowl dream crashed, so did Jurrell Casey’s voice.

“When we first came in from the field, I went out there in the back and bawled my eyes out,” he said before a long pause to gather himself. “Definitely the best team I’ve been on. We may never have this opportunity again with the same unit. It definitely sucks. Nine years, never to make it, it’s one of the hardest things ever.”LoganRyanChase2KC

And when he stepped away, he cried again. He was hardly alone in a locker room where there were, understandably, a lot of red eyes after a team that went on an amazing run couldn’t earn itself two more weeks of work and the ultimate spotlight.

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Ryan Tannehill, whose remarkable season since taking over as the Titans’ starter has helped propel the Titans to the AFC title game, is the winner of two Pro Football Writers of America awards: Comeback Player of the Year and Most Improved Player.TannehillLineChiefs

The awards were voted on for regular-season work.

I voted for Tannehill as most improved. But he threw for 1,979 yards in 2018 for Miami with 17 touchdowns and a 92.7 passer rating. That didn’t seem like something to come back from to me. (My ballot.)

The Titans acquired Tannehill in a spring trade from Miami, getting a much better backup for Marcus Mariota a season after they lost their finale with Blaine Gabbert playing against the Colts. [Unlocked]

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Quiet Derrick Henry's game is not the only thing that he's raised the volume on

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – He’s soft-spoken and when he wears his stylish, small oval glasses he could play the part of a giant librarian.

For a good share of his first three years of his NFL career, Derrick Henry appeared perfectly willing to work in the background and let others do the talking.HenryEye

But now, as one of the most productive players on one of the four remaining teams in the NFL playoffs, the extra-large running back picks his spots and raises his voice.

After Henry became the first NFL player to top 180 rushing yards in three consecutive games, Mike Vrabel gave him a game ball. And then Henry delivered a message before breaking the team down, after which guys headed to their phones and their showers.

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