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Coordinator Dennard Wilson Offers View of Titans' Attacking Defense

Dennard Wilson and Brian Callahan
  Dennard Wilson and Brian Callahan

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – As Dennard Wilson introduced himself to Nashville, he was direct, focused and concise about what he will bring to the Titans as their new defensive coordinator

He started with something we heard before but built to something newer and fresher that I think qualifies as an exciting place to start in mid-March.

“It’s not about scheme, it’s about the players,” he said, echoing what Mike Vrabel said for the bulk of his six years with the Titans. “We have to figure out what they do well and then we’ll put the scheme around what they do well, to allow their talents to flourish.

“I can tell you this about the scheme, and I learned this a long time ago, General George Patton said this:

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Potential Free-Agent Connections for Titans' New Coaching Staff

Potential Free-Agent Connections for Titans' New Coaching Staff

By MIKE HERNDON, columnist

Brian Callahan’s first staff as head coach of the Tennessee Titans is taking shape. On Tuesday, the team announced the hires of 10 new coaches as well as the news that 11 members of Mike Vrabel’s 2023 staff would be remaining with the team.

Dec 10, 2017; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos wide receiver coach Tyke Tolbert reacts in the first half against the New York Jets at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
New Titans' WR coach Tyke Tolbert/ © Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Callahan still has a few spots to fill out, most notably special teams coordinator and head strength and conditioning coach, but this is likely 80 to 90 percent of the final coaching roster that opens the 2024 season in two-tone blue. Here are the coaches who have been confirmed along with their roles:

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Frank Piraino Not On Brian Callahan's New Titans' Staff

Frank Piraino
  Frank Piraino

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Frank Piraino was bound to go. After three years where the Titans used at least 85 players a season because of an onslaught of injuries, the strength and conditioning coach, who became director of sports performance along the way, paid the price.

His three assistants remain behind on Brian Callahan's new staff, the bulk of which was announced Tuesday. Brian Bell, Tyler Rouse and Haley Roberts are likely to be judged by Piraino's replacement, running the weight room for players who are  working at team headquarters.

Is the strength and conditioning program likely a piece of what has been wrong for the Titans? Sure.

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Special Gap: Some of the Giant Differences Between the Titans and Chiefs

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The traditional Monday comparison of the Titans to the new Super Bowl champions doesn't fly given the rebuilding situation in Nashville and all we don't know about what Brian Callahan's first version of the team will look like.

But we can certainly look at the gap between the Tenessee and the now two-time defending champion Chiefs and see some of the ingredients that are missing and sure seem needed in a Lombardi Trophy winner these days.

Feb 11, 2024; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Trent McDuffie (22) breaks up a pass intended for San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel (19) in the first quarter in Super Bowl LVIII at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports
Trent McDuffie Breaks up a pass in Super Bowl LVIII/ © Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

The quarterback problem

The first is Patrick Mahomes, and good luck with that. He's a one-of-a-kind quarterback and you're not finding his equal. Who's beaten him head-to-head? Tom Brady twice and Joe Burrow. Odds are better that you piece together a great defensive game, get good quarterback play, and squeak by than you outplay him at QB. Add Juwan Jennings TD' throw into what Brock Purdy did and the passing game was roughly a wash in Super Bowl LVIII in terms of passer rating.

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Roles Set for Two Titans' Assistant Coach Holdovers

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Roles are set for two of Mike Vrabel's assistant coaches who Brian Callahan will keep on his staff.

Chris Harris will remain the cornerback coach/ passing game coordinator and Justin Outten, who was the running back coach/ run game coordinator last season, will move to coach tight ends. Jeremy Fowler reported long-time Washington running backs coach Randy Jordan is coming to Nashville.

Chris Harris
Chris Harris prepares for a Titans practice in the middle of his cornerbacks
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Bill Callahan Gives Titans Chance To Turn Biggest Weakness Into Strength Quickly

Bill Callahan Gives Titans Chance To Turn Biggest Weakness Into Strength Quickly

By MIKE HERNDON, columnist

The last two seasons of Titans football have consistently featured one glaring problem that Mike Vrabel and staff were not able to solve – offensive line performance. Only the Giants and Bears have allowed a higher sack rate over the last two years than Tennessee’s 10.6 percent.

That result is simply not compatible with winning football. Among the ten teams with a sack rate allowed of more than 7.5 percent, none have compiled a winning record over the last 34 games.

Cleveland Browns offensive lineman Jack Conklin talks with coach Bill Callahan during minicamp on Wednesday, June 15, 2022 in Canton, Ohio, at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium.
Bill Callahan coaches Jack Conklin/ © PHIL MASTURZO / USA TODAY NETWORK

Given the statements and interviews provided by Amy Adams-Strunk, Ran Carthon, and Brian Callahan since the latter’s hire two weeks ago, it’s safe to say that Tennessee’s new direction features a heavy emphasis on passing the football on offense. To do that, the Titans will need to protect the passer much better than they did during the last phase of the Mike Vrabel era.

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How NIL Will Impact Titans, and Every Team, In The Draft

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – As the evolution of NIL continues to create issues and debate in the college ranks and alter football at that level, there is a trickle-down effect for the NFL.

With transfer portal possibilities on top of the ability to make money off name, image and likeness available on campuses, fewer underclassmen are declaring themselves eligible for the draft.

TreVeyon Henderson
TreVeyon Henderson / Courtesy Ohio State Athletics

One hundred thirty players did so as recently in 2021. This year it’s less than half that -- 54. With 76 fewer players on draft boards – though not all necessarily draftable – good scouting takes on an even bigger premium.

Titans president of football operations Chad Brinker acknowledged that on a recent episode of the team's podcast.

“We’re seeing because of NIL, some of these players who could potentially be your third, fourth-round type player, still premium picks, deciding to go back to school,” he said. “They are making pretty good money playing college football.”

But he also hit a couple of times on another interesting point:

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Chad Brinker's Forward Vision Makes it Seem Like Titans Were in Dark Ages

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Where the Titans are heading now sounds great. But as president of football operations Chad Brinker described much of it on the team’s official podcast, it sure made it seem like the franchise has been operating in the dark ages.

Based on some of what he said, you can’t help but ask how ownership and management allowed the Titans to get where they are.

Chad Brinker

Yes, much of what Brinker said sounds good, sound and sensible – though quite difficult with all the people and departments that need to buy in and pull together. I understand the enthusiasm, but the organization needs to temper it a bit, I think, based on the timetables Brinker spoke of.

I like him in the bit I’ve chatted with him and it’s all encouraging. But what the hell have they been doing that there is so much work for him now?

A few things that struck me:

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