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The Robfather

Looking At Titans First 20 Years 1999-2018

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Nothing is more enjoyable than watching your favorite team play on NFL Sunday. Well for a long time growing up we didn't have a team here in Tennessee when i started watching in the mid eighties at age 10. However in 1999 we finally had our own team here playing in a new stadium on the Cumberland River and that new team was the Tennessee Titans. The Titans played 20 seasons as the 2018 season came to a conclusion at end of December.

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From 1999-2018 the Titans won a total of 170 games if you include the regular and post season. Compared with the other 31 NFL teams the Titans ranked right outside the top 10 in wins overall. Many fans of other teams and some of the Titans own fans might think wow there is no way the Titans were good enough to be right outside the top 10 in overall wins over their first 20 seasons but they were.

10 winning seasons,7 playoff berths,6 postseason wins,3 division titles,3x 13 win seasons,2 NFL ROYs,1 NFL MVP,A 2000 yd rusher,2x NFL best record,2 AFC Championship appearances,1 Super Bowl appearance were what the Titans accomplished their first 20 seasons along with winning 170 games overall.

From 1999 through 2003 the Titans had one of the NFL’s best records those 5 years going 56-24 that included a 33-9 record at home during that era. A lot of that is due to the great work done by GM Floyd Reese picking players like Jevon Kearse,Keith Bulluck,Albert Haynesworth along with others such as Steve McNair,Eddie George,Derrick Mason,Samari Rolle,etc.

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The Titans have had plenty of thrilling moments as well as players and had playoff wins along the line as well.

The Titans/Steelers 2002 playoff game was memorable for a running into the kicker call and Joe Nedney got another shot getting a winning FG for a 34-31 win. In January 2000 the Bills came to Nashville and left broken hearted after the Titans pulled off whats called The Music City Miracle running a trick play on a kickoff trailing by a point with only 15 seconds left and scoring a TD to win.

 

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Steve McNair won NFL MVP in 2003. One of the toughest players to ever play the game especially at the QB position. McNair suffered numerous injuries including cracked ribs,bruised sternum,shoulder issues,broken bones,etc. but more often than not still played. McNair had 10 Fourth quarter comebacks and 15 game winning drives during his career here.

Our GM Floyd Reese as he had many times before hit the nail on the head when he took a pair of tackles in the 2005 NFL Draft in the second round he picked Michael Roos and in the fourth round he picked David Stewart and both were great bookend tackles who ended up playing a decade in Tennessee.

Favorite players of mine during the first 10 years here included Kyle Vanden Bosch,Cortland Finnegan,Samari Rolle besides the usual ones Steve McNair,Eddie George,etc.

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2004 through 2006 were rebuilding years and it was during this time in 2006 that the team drafted their next QB in Vince Young. Although VY ultimately didn’t last but after five years in Tennessee he left with a 30-17 winning mark and had several thrilling comebacks including a 21 point comeback his rookie year,a 40 yard run in OT to beat Houston and a 99 yard drive to beat Arizona as time expired. Young had 13 game winning drives and 7 fourth quarter comebacks.

There was one very memorable thing about the Titans 2006 draft and that was a player selected in the seventh round and that player was CB Cortland Finnegan who ended up playing 133 games in his career and had 18 career interceptions.

 

On December 3,2006 Rob Bironas booted a 60 yard FG to win a thrilling home game 20-17 with only 7 seconds left against the division rival Colts.

Bironas also holds the NFL record for most FG made in one game with 8 against the Houston Texans in October 2007 and the last one was the game winner as time expired.

 

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Albert Haynesworth had two of the most dominant back to back performances ever seen by a defensive lineman and helped the Titans reach the postseason both those years 2007 and 2008.

Haynesworth had 14.5 sacks,27 tackles for losses,37 QB hits those two years and parlayed it into becoming the first 100 million dollar man for a defensive line which the Skins signed him to but his best days would always be here.

 

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Another bright spot in 2008 was RB Chris Johnson was set the combine record for the fastest time ever 4.24 seconds and he didn’t waste no time showing how good he was and the very next year he set the NFL record for all purpose yardage and if not for a bad penalty call would’ve broken Eric Dickerson’s rushing record too but did manage to become just the sixth RB ever to go over 2000 yards in one season with 2006 yards.

Johnson is the only player in NFL history to register 6 different runs in his career over 80 yards

From 1999 through 2011 the team had never had more than two losing seasons in a row and had done very well mostly winning the first twelve years mostly due to good coaching by main stays HC Jeff Fisher,Offensive line coach Mike Munchak and DC’s like Gregg Williams,Jerry Gray and Jim Schwartz.

Also drafting well with GM Floyd Reese helped a lot too but after Fisher left in 2011 there were a few lean years coming…..

 

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In 2011 the Titans would have a new head coach Mike Munchak,new GM Ruston Webster and new franchise QB Jake Locker.

All three moves were mistakes especially Webster who couldn’t draft or put together a good team and Locker who simply was injury prone and couldn’t play well due to accuracy issues. Munchak was at his best coaching the line. 2012 through 2015 were all losing seasons due to bad QB play,bad drafting and the team wasn’t very good at all during this time. In 2014 Ken Whisenhunt was hired as new head coach replacing Mike Munchak.

The team did have some good players at this time like WR Nate Washington,DT Jurrell Casey,DE Derrick Morgan along with Webster's best free agent signing TE Delanie Walker

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In 2015 the team drafted QB Marcus Mariota and things started to get better and Mariota in his very first game managed to have a perfect passer rating as well as being the youngest QB to ever achieve that feat in his first NFL game. Mid 2015 the Titans fired Ken Whisenhunt and replaced him with Mike Mularkey

2016 things started to really change as the Titans got their first good GM since Floyd Reese and his name was Jon Robinson and he immediately started making good moves like bringing in RB Demarco Murray who would lead the AFC in rushing as well as trading the teams number one pick in the draft for a bunch of extra picks including a first rounder the next year.

Murray was one of the main reasons the team was able to experience winning once again because he helped the team build a successful running game for the first time in a good while

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In 2016 the Titans had a winning season at 9-7 and had drafted well too with picks like RT Jack Conklin to pair with LT Taylor Lewan,RB Derrick Henry and S Kevin Byard. The very next year Byard led the NFL in interceptions. Robinson was already proving better than his predecessors.

In 2017 the Titans drafted players like Corey Davis,Adoree Jackson,Jayon Brown,etc. and had another winning season at 9-7 and this time made the AFC Playoffs as well.

In the 2017 AFC Playoffs Marcus Mariota and the Titans pulled off the biggest playoff road comeback in NFL history coming back from 18 points down to win 22-21 at Kansas City.

Mariota has managed to lead Titans to a better record every year since arriving as a rookie in 2015. Mariota has 12 game winning drives and 10 fourth quarter comebacks in his first 4 seasons.

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The Titans lost in the next postseason game at New England a place where Robinson spent the first 10 years of his scouting career. 

Speaking of New England the Titans and Robinson hired Mike Vrabel to be the teams new head coach replacing Mike Mularkey. In addition to that in free agency they signed RB Dion Lewis and CB Malcolm Butler as the Pats let them go.

Also for 2018 they had a mostly defensive draft getting Rashaan Evans,Harold Landry and Dane Cruikshank.

Also at this time the team changed their image up a bit with new uniforms and helmet the first major change since 1999 a good change going into the future…..

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The Titans finished 2018 with a 9-7 record which was the teams third straight winning season. Since starting as GM in 2016 GM Robinson has three straight winning seasons and he and the team will aim for a 4th straight winning year in 2019.

The team recently closed the chapter on their first 20 seasons with three straight winning seasons and a playoff victory the year before. They finished with 170 wins overall and were just shy of being top 10 in overall wins their first 20 seasons.

Looking forward to success and great times in the years ahead for Tennessee.

 

NFL Leaders In Wins Last 20 Years 1999-2018

1-Pats 263

2-Steelers 218

3-Colts 216

4-Pack 204

5-Eagles 200

6-Ravens 199

7-Seahawks 193

8-Broncos 188

9-Saints 182

10-Cowboys 171

11-Giants 171

12-Titans 170

13-Chargers 170

14-Vikes 170

15-Panthers 168

16-Falcons 168

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The curse of Jack Pardee...

 

The 4 years Pardee was our HC full time, we finished top 10 in offense every single year (almost exclusively top 5 except for a single 6th ranking):

  • 1990 - 2nd in scoring offense, 1st in yardage
  • 1991 - 4th and 2nd
  • 1992 - 6th and 3rd
  • 1993 - 4th and 3rd

Since then, we've had 1 season where we finished in the top 10 in both categories:

  • 2003 - 5th and 8th

And only one other season in the top 10 in either ranking

  • 1999 - 7th in scoring offense

I know it's easy to blame Fisher for a lot of those years... but we're approaching 10 seasons post Fisher... and he was at the helm in both 99 and 03.  Also, only in his last season did the offense finish in the bottom 3rd in offense in either category... 27th in yardage his last season here (17th in scoring).  Other than that he was always top 22 in scoring and yardage. 

In the 8 years sinche's been gone however, we've had 4 seasons finishing in the bottom 3rd in both categories:

  • 2012 - 23rd in scoring, 26th in yardage (Munchack - Palmer - Locker)
  • 2014 - 30th and 29th (Whiz - Michael - Mett)
  • 2015 - 28th and 30th (Whiz/Mularkey - Michael - Mariota)
  • 2018 - 27th and 25th (Vrabel - LaFleur - Mariota)

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We just won't allow ourselves to enter the 21st century offensively. No clue why, we just won't do it. 

I 10000% expect us to be in the bottom 4 once again in passing attempts per game and Marcus topping out at around 15 passing TDs. Nothing will ever change with our offense. Don't mean to be a Debby Downer, but if we didn't decide to open up our passing game after the skills Mariota showed in Year 2, why would we now?

 

we are going to run and run and run and run all our way to 9 wins

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Defense is a little different story, with 5 seasons as a top 10 defense in both categories

  • 1995 - 7th in scoring, 5th in yardage (Fisher's first full year)
  • 2000 - 2nd and 1st 
  • (2002 just missed with 11th and 10th)
  • 2007 - 8th and 5th
  • 2008 - 2nd and 7th
  • 2018 - 3rd and 8th

It's interesting to note that other than the 1st and last example, we finished with double digit wins in those other years... 2000 (13 wins) , 2002 (11) , 2007 (10), 2008 (13)... there's only 2 seasons where we finished with a win total of 10+ without a top 10 D (one of those seasons was 2003,when we had that top 10 offense).

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Posted (edited)
6 minutes ago, deeluxx3 said:

We just won't allow ourselves to enter the 21st century offensively. No clue why, we just won't do it. 

I 10000% expect us to be in the bottom 4 once again in passing attempts per game and Marcus topping out at around 15 passing TDs. Nothing will ever change with our offense. Don't mean to be a Debby Downer, but if we didn't decide to open up our passing game after the skills Mariota showed in Year 2, why would we now?

 

we are going to run and run and run and run all our way to 9 wins

It's tough.  But what is it?  I know the Fisher excuse is an easy out... but it really has no bearing anymore.  Our offense has actually been worse the 8 years since he's been gone... than when he was here. 

The owner is gone...

We have a new GM... one who seems to understand the game...

Different coaches...

I mean... what is it?  Other than the ghost of Jack Pardee...

...or maybe it was Buddy Ryan's punch heard round the world (for those who don't know... Ryan our DC, punched our OC Gilbride on the sidelines during a game).  That was in 1993... and we haven't been the same since.

 

Edited by ragevsuall17

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13 minutes ago, ragevsuall17 said:

It's tough.  But what is it?  I know the Fisher excuse is an easy out... but it really has no bearing anymore.  Our offense has actually been worse the 8 years since he's been gone... than when he was here. 

The owner is gone...

We have a new GM... one who seems to understand the game...

Different coaches...

I mean... what is it?  Other than the ghost of Jack Pardee...

...or maybe it was Buddy Ryan's punch heard round the world (for those who don't know... Ryan our DC, punched our OC Gilbride on the sidelines during a game).  That was in 1993... and we haven't been the same since.

 

Cool history lesson...no clue that happened! 

I couldn't tell you what it is, but I think more than anything it's an antiquated mentality in every single coaching staff we bring in. Even LeFleur...coming from this "modern" coaching tree...ran the ball all the time and used a bunch of 3 TE sets. I don't understand it. Something has to be in the water in Nashville. It's like the whole city would blow up if we threw the ball over 30 times in a game that didn't go into OT. I hate it and I'm done with my preseason optimism. We do every single thing we can to NOT put our skill players in positions to succeed or play to our QB's strengths

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4 hours ago, deeluxx3 said:

Cool history lesson...no clue that happened! 

I couldn't tell you what it is, but I think more than anything it's an antiquated mentality in every single coaching staff we bring in. Even LeFleur...coming from this "modern" coaching tree...ran the ball all the time and used a bunch of 3 TE sets. I don't understand it. Something has to be in the water in Nashville. It's like the whole city would blow up if we threw the ball over 30 times in a game that didn't go into OT. I hate it and I'm done with my preseason optimism. We do every single thing we can to NOT put our skill players in positions to succeed or play to our QB's strengths

I mean... they've tried different things since Fish/Munch...

Whiz is supposed to be this offensive genius... and maybe he is... int he mold of Norv Turner... amazing OC but horrible HC.  Whatever it was resulted in quite possible our worst 2 years of offensive ineptitude... and that's saying a lot considering the aforementioned offensive incompetence of this franchise since Pardee. 

Mularkey made the mistake of hitching his offensive wagon to Robiskie... but he's had some success on offense as well... and showed some diversity in previous stops.  He also had us very hopeful in 2016... where the offense didn't look completely lost.

And LaFleur has to be the biggest disappointment... as far as production at least (GB obviously doesn't agree).  Last year wasn't as bad as the Whiz years, but it got pretty close.  I gave the offense a pass because of Mariota's nerve and the loss of Walker and Matthews early on.  The offense just never had a chance to take off nor recover.  (GB appears to agree with me on those points I think).

The expectation that Smith overcomes this hex is probably very low.  He just doesn't seem to have the pedigree of a Whiz or LaFleur... almost seems like a poor man's version of Mularkey.  That's scary, but maybe that in itself is hope.  The one we expect less of ends up being the one that pushes over the hump.  I guess that's more hope/wish than it is an actual expectation.  We'll see I guess... but I go into the season hopeful that this is the year we end up with at least a top 15 offense and defense.  (I had expectations that Mariota was going 4000 with 30 TDs last year... so lets not put too much stock in my expectations).

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My thing is just the gross mis-use of players. Screens with Eric Decker. Not using Derrick in short-yardage situations. Running with Stocker. Targeting Stocker on 4th down. Targeting Adoree Jackson on 4th down. Not treating Corey like a #1 receiver. Keeping Marcus under center with 3 TEs. Not using hurry up at all. Never spreading it out passing. Never passing early in games and Marcus not getting in a rhythm. Running. And running. And running some more. Never running pick plays like other teams do to get a guy like Taywan open underneath. Never scheming anyone open, just hoping they beat their man. 5-7 step drops much the norm over 3.

 

It's all these little things coming together that are just stupid. And I'm certain there are many more. These add up into an incompetent offense that has to absolutely claw their way into the end zone. These are all stupid and fixable things that other teams either don't do or are smart enough to change what's not working.

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Posted (edited)
22 hours ago, deeluxx3 said:

We just won't allow ourselves to enter the 21st century offensively. No clue why, we just won't do it. 

I 10000% expect us to be in the bottom 4 once again in passing attempts per game and Marcus topping out at around 15 passing TDs. Nothing will ever change with our offense. Don't mean to be a Debby Downer, but if we didn't decide to open up our passing game after the skills Mariota showed in Year 2, why would we now?

 

we are going to run and run and run and run all our way to 9 wins

Although he probably does legitimately want to be a good running team (and there's nothing wrong with that), I truly believe Vrabel took the job with every intention of modernizing the offense. The fact that he went out and hired the hottest young offensive name in football sans McVay all but shows that. The problem was that it simply was not a good hire. We basically brought a guy in because of his name and pedigree instead of the actual scheme he was going to run and how it was going to fit our players, particularly our QB. Injuries or not, that ultimately falls squarely on Vrabel and Robinson. It was a "road to hell, good intentions" situation that I'm not sure anyone expected. 

I understand the skepticism. I really do. We've been fed the same bowl of crap for 15 years and expected chocolate pudding almost every time. Having said that, I really do like Smith. He's been a hell of a position coach for a long time now, which is usually how the best coordinators come to be, and I like to think he's seen enough of our players and QB to know what they do and don't do well. The hot name didn't work out for us, so maybe the unexpected "in-house" guy will.  

Edited by ShupacTakur

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4 hours ago, ShupacTakur said:

The hot name didn't work out for us, so maybe the unexpected "in-house" guy will

We're technically 0-2 on each front...

In house... Munch and Mularkey

Hot name... Whiz and LaFleur/Vrabel

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3 hours ago, ragevsuall17 said:

We're technically 0-2 on each front...

In house... Munch and Mularkey

Hot name... Whiz and LaFleur/Vrabel

True, but ya gotta consider the intricacies of each situation. Munchak actually did okay that first year with Hasselbeck. Locker just turned out to be garbage (strictly as a player. was an awesome person). Plus he was stuck with Webster. 

Mularkey was just Mularkey. And let’s not kid ourselves. Not a damn one of us expected that to work out. In fact it worked out about 95% better than any of us expected it to despite his firing.

Whisenhunt is actually the outlier here. Great OC, solid offensive mind, had led a team to the super bowl as a HC, and had a talented young QB. But he was just a garbage head coach. Probably would’ve been a fine OC for Mariota, but he wasn’t ready to build anything up as a head man. Our lack of talent at the time obliterated anything he wanted to do. 

Vrabel is still writing his own story and like I said, I just think LaFleur was a bad hire/fit. 

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3 hours ago, ragevsuall17 said:

We're technically 0-2 on each front...

In house... Munch and Mularkey

Hot name... Whiz and LaFleur/Vrabel

Or...maybe we’re just the southern version of the Chicago Bears and are destined to ALWAYS be a defensive team.,

although the McNair and especially Moon years throw a wrench into all of that. 

Nah, I just think we’re still waiting for our time. 

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14 hours ago, ShupacTakur said:

Or...maybe we’re just the southern version of the Chicago Bears and are destined to ALWAYS be a defensive team.,

although the McNair and especially Moon years throw a wrench into all of that. 

Nah, I just think we’re still waiting for our time. 

It sure seems that way. We won't get further than 9 wins until the offense can score more points. We were easily an 11 win team last year if not for 2 losses both by 1 point. In the Bills game if Nick Williams catches that TD we win and in the loss to the Chargers all we needed to do was give Derrick Henry the ball on the 2 point conversion. Our pass offense is terrible so why throw a pass with the game on the line.

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Posted (edited)
15 hours ago, ShupacTakur said:

True, but ya gotta consider the intricacies of each situation. Munchak actually did okay that first year with Hasselbeck. Locker just turned out to be garbage (strictly as a player. was an awesome person). Plus he was stuck with Webster. 

Mularkey was just Mularkey. And let’s not kid ourselves. Not a damn one of us expected that to work out. In fact it worked out about 95% better than any of us expected it to despite his firing.

Whisenhunt is actually the outlier here. Great OC, solid offensive mind, had led a team to the super bowl as a HC, and had a talented young QB. But he was just a garbage head coach. Probably would’ve been a fine OC for Mariota, but he wasn’t ready to build anything up as a head man. Our lack of talent at the time obliterated anything he wanted to do. 

Vrabel is still writing his own story and like I said, I just think LaFleur was a bad hire/fit. 

Hasselbeck did good in 2011 for us then went on to do alright in Indy helping them win some games in 2013 and 2014. The worst mistake this Titans franchise made the last 20 years was drafting Jake Locker he ended up costing us 3 or 4 straight losing seasons and that has only happened one time where we had 3 losing years in a row or more.

Edited by The Robfather

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Posted (edited)
19 hours ago, The Robfather said:

Hasselbeck did good in 2011 for us then went on to do alright in Indy helping them win some games in 2013 and 2014. The worst mistake this Titans franchise made the last 20 years was drafting Jake Locker he ended up costing us 3 or 4 straight losing seasons and that has only happened one time where we had 3 losing years in a row or more.

I can't disagree. In hindsight, the Locker pick was damn near unforgivable. His well-documented injury problems and accuracy issues should have been enough for any front office worth its salt to write him out of the first round. But the fact that he was taken in the top 10 of literally one of the most loaded, talent-rich drafts in history is near vomit-inducing. I've said it before, but we could have thrown a dart at our draft board that year and it probably would have landed on a future pro bowler. Instead, we went with The Hurt Locker. The only mildly salvageable anecdote from that situation is that the Jags made an arguably even more laughable blunder by taking Blaine Gabbert a couple picks later.   

Edited by ShupacTakur

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