NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Teryl Austin worked a couple of years overseeing the secondary in Baltimore when Dean Pees was the Ravens’ defensive coordinator.

His connection to Mike Vrabel, therefore, is once removed. Austin also has connections to Jim Haslett and Urban Meyer, who Vrabel coached under.

Gerry Dulac reports that Vrabel has interviewed Austin, currently senior defensive assistant/ secondary coach in Pittsburgh, for the Titans’ defensive coordinator post.

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Photo courtesy Pittsburgh Steelers

If hired, Austin would fill an unoccupied title but that would take away duties from Shane Bowen who did most of the work of a defensive coordinator for a terrible defense in 2020.

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Initially, I was thinking Larrell Murchison would walk away with this hardware-less prize.

ChrisJacksonZoomBut I was way off when I stepped back and looked at the full picture.

Chris Jackson out-snapped Murchison 239-142 and maxed out with 74 percent against Buffalo, while Murchison’s rotational work peaked at 37 percent in the same game.

To Jackson’s credit, he was called on early when the Titans were in a real jam, with Adoree’ Jackson unexpectedly missing when he suffered a knee injury just days before the opener and with Kristian Fulton missing much of camp with a hamstring injury.

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Mike Vrabel said he didn’t realize how big a deal it would be not to give the defensive coordinator title to Shane Bowen. He and the Titans will review that and everything about the staff now that the season is over.

Vrabel listed all the defensive duties Bowen held in 2020, but then stumbled around when I asked why, if the outside linebackers coach was worthy of all those responsibilities, he was not worthy of the title.haslett

The lack of the title created a constant media and fan debate that had a brilliant side effect – one I can’t imagine Vrabel planned for but that he certainly benefitted from.

His defensive staff floated through the season with very little scrutiny.

The personnel they worked with was insufficient in many cases, but few players developed and improved based on the work of the coaches they spent the most time with.

In his third year, Rashaan Evans too often flew to the wrong gap and failed in coverage. He had the mentality that he was an officiating target not because he was undisciplined or mistake-prone, but because he foolishly threw a punch and got ejected from the opener in Denver.

First and foremost, that’s on the player.

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Scout's Take: How the Titans' season came apart against the Ravens

By BLAKE BEDDINGFIELD, special correspondent

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Titans defense did a great job of handling Lamar Jackson for most of the game.

The defense did enough to win the game.

The key to their success was the tackling from the linebacker and cornerback positions of the Titans.

Titans special team’s linebacker Nick Dzubnar played a major role in run defense as an OLB against the run.

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Photo: Tennessee Titans/ Caleb Jones

Dzubnar played hard and was very solid at being a strong-side outside linebacker, playing against tight ends and tackles to contain and hold the edge.

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – What an utter waste.

The Titans took a team that was one game away from the Super Bowl, and despite making its defense significantly worse, they improved by two regular-season games, won the AFC South and earned a home-field playoff game.AJBrownRavensCJ

And then they got pulled away from the only formula they can win with – the one where they have to outscore people -- in a 20-13 loss to the Baltimore Ravens.

It ended their season

And it should trigger some serious soul-searching, roster reconstruction, staff revision and an evaluation of their personnel acquisition methods.

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Please let this mailbag help you feel connected to your team as you pass the time between now and kick off of its playoff opener.

I also encourage you to go back and review the week of work here to help get you ready. You'll find a review of just how good Ryan Tannehill's passing production was for what comes with a 2,000-yard rusher, a look at how Derrick Henry's elusiveness keys his durability, five big thoughts about the team right now and Blake Beddingfield's monster scouting preview.

Now, onto the best of the mail.

Keith Stevenson Despite our overall poor performance on defence, Malcolm Butler has shown up & balled every game, plays with heart on his sleeve. He gets alot of heat from fans but i feel only because he is one of our best we all expect more. What's your take?

NeverSatisfied

I haven’t seen Butler take much heat this year. Given how poor the defense has been, I think most fans realize Malcolm Butler is a fighter and while he’ll lose some plays he’s got a mentality that is lacking in a lot of other spots that the Titans need in much heavier doses.

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Scout's Take: How the Titans can beat a different version of the Ravens

By BLAKE BEDDINGFIELD, special correspondent

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Ravens-Titans playoff game Sunday will be a much different game than Week 11.

The Ravens were without their two best defensive linemen in Calais Campbell and nose tackle Brandon Williams.

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Because of the lack of run-stoppers along the defensive line in the first matchup, the Ravens’ defense was forced to play more base defense than the heavy nickel and dime packages they like to use.

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- As I’ve contemplated the Ravens-Titans’ Wild Card game Sunday, I’ve thought a good deal about last year’s games.

Many like to downplay Ryan Tannehill’s role, but without two perfect throws early on, Tennessee never could have pulled the upset at M&T Bank Stadium.

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His placement on a first-quarter sprawling touchdown catch by Jonnu Smith (12 yards) and a diving early second-quarter 45-yard Kalif Raymond touchdown shaped the entire game.

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