Kevin Byard, Titans set about 'creating a legacy that can never be forgotten'

DENVER – Tonight, they’ll be a mile high.

Ultimately, the mark these Titans make will be remembered in Nashville.

They could be like a lot of Tennessee teams before them, with moments we will remember but a whole picture that doesn’t hang higher than an average season.EddieGeorgeStadium

A year after an AFC Championship Game appearance, a team that’s posted four consecutive 9-7 records could fall back, and while an additional playoff slot could aid their entrance into the field, there is no guarantee they make the big sort of playoff push they did a year ago.

But this team has bigger expectations and they are realistic if it stays healthy. The window is wide open for a team that played some amazing offense and complementary football in 2019. If they maximize it, these Titans could earn a place in the pantheon, right along with the bunch that took the original team to Super Bowl XXXIV.

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Hi everyone. Here we are, opening weekend. I admit I wasn't always sure we were going to make it.

But the league and teams have done excellent work and we've seen a lopsided game and get a full slate Sunday and a long wait Monday before the Titans kickoff in the nightcap.

I hope you'll give the podcast a listen before the game, and also enjoy this mailbag during the long countdown.

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(Photo courtesy Seattle Seahawks.)

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Gifted, cut and fit, it’s hard to imagine fourth-quarter fatigue being much of a problem for A.J. Brown.

But between his breakout rookie season and a second campaign that starts in the elevation of Denver Monday night, the receiver has put a heavy focus on next-level conditioning that will help ensure his late-game routes look just like the runs he runs early, making it hard for defenses to slow him late.AJBrownLeapCatchGW

(Photo: A.J. Brown by George Walker, Tennessean via pool.)

He set out with an offseason focus to clean up the steps at the top of his routes, particularly when he is tired.

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Believe me, I am surprised as you are.

And I've got no history of picking anything right with any consistency.

But on Thursday's edition of The Midday180 it was time for us to lay out how we expected the NFL season to play out.

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- In matters of advanced statistics, I know I am way over my head, so I turn to people far smarter than I am.

Because I know with regard to some of the things the Titans did a year ago, it’s just not going to be possible for them to do them again or to repeat them.TannehillShotgun2GW

For example, the Titans converted first downs on 45 of 111 plays (40.5 percent) in the red zone last season, best in NFL per Inside Edge. That was nearly 20 percent better than the worst team, Jacksonville. And it was nearly 10 percent better than the league average of 30.6 percent.

“That definitely tends to regress year to year,” said Aaron Schatz, the head of Football Outsiders.

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The first NFL player Jadeveon Clowney made look bad might just have been Kelcy Quarles, who was most recently on the roster of the Edmonton Eskimos but has been with the Giants, Patriots, Colts and Browns.

As a junior in 2013, the defensive lineman was Second Team All-America and First Team All-SEC at South Carolina. But at his pro day in the spring of 2014, he had the misfortune of following Clowney in drills.ClowneySeahawks2

(Photo courtesy Seattle Seahawks.)

Titans defensive line coach Jim Washburn ran that session. One of the drills linemen ran under his watch entailed a line of flat, Agile pads.

Players stood flat-footed with the long, narrow pads lined up in front of them, and Washburn asked them to explode forward, over the pads, landing flat-footed, maintaining balance. Then they were to run full speed ahead, leaning first to the right to pick up a racquetball, then to the left to get a second one. (See napkin drawing below.)

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – It’s time.

Are the 2020 Titans better top to bottom than last year’s version? We can’t say for sure.

A lot of roster movement was about replenishment more than improvement.

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But Jadeveon Clowney was the big piece, expected to complete the team, a defensive disruptor.

With him on the roster, tacking on the ever-present caveat about injuries, there is no excuse for the Titans not to surpass the 9-7 record of the last four years and capture the AFC South crown.

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – In two years as Titans coach, Mike Vrabel has shown himself to be a very good teacher and tactician, a relationship-builder with rapport with everybody.

He’s certainly a motivator, but on a team where Vrabel and Jon Robinson have sought to bring in guys who love football and put the team first, he’s got two high-ranking players who may be challenges on his plate now.ClowneyArrivalTweet

In Jadeveon Clowney and Vic Beasley, two players with great physical gifts at the Titans’ big position of need, Vrabel will have to do his best work in bringing out their best football.

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