Welcome to the inaugural Titans Tuesday article. This will be a weekly look at the Tennessee Titans, starting in earnest during the preseason. We will have occasional updates during the offseason but it won’t be weekly until closer to the start of the season.
Today, my topic is simple. Consider this a big “Thank You” to Ken Whisenhunt and Ruston Webster.
Now, I know what you are thinking. Why are we thanking those two? What did they ever do to deserve our thanks? Your questions do not come as a surprise.
During Ken Whisenhunt’s brief tenure as head coach in Tennessee, he managed to take a team that averaged over seven wins a season in three years under Mike Munchak and somehow only produced three wins in the span of 23 games before he was fired midseason. He was a failure as a head coach in every way imaginable. His offense (his supposed specialty) was horrendous, ranking in the bottom five both years he was in Tennessee. His defenses weren’t much better. He got his quarterbacks hit all the time due to his stubborn insistence on running his offense even when it was clear the players were not suited to it. He talked a big game but his coaching decisions, win-loss record, and an overall inability to adapt made all his words hollow.
General Manager Ruston Webster did not fare much better. He consistently drafted potential over known quantities. His drafts and free agent signings are littered with non-contributors: Michael Oher, Justin Hunter, Moise Fokou, Darius Raynaud, Zavier Gooden, Lavar Edwards, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Andy Levitre, and Shonn Greene to name a few. He missed on too many good players in the draft too often. There is a reason he is now a scout for the Falcons and not running the show for any NFL franchise.
So, why am I thanking these two men who from all appearances did more to run this team into the ground than anyone in franchise history? Simple: Marcus Mariota.
Think about it. According to multiple reports, the Eagles and Chip Kelly were desperate to draft Mariota. They were willing to give just about anything to the Titans so they could move up to the number two spot in the 2015 draft. The Titans did not bite. They stuck to their draft assessments and picked Mariota. From all appearances, they chose wisely. Mariota has done nothing but impress in his time in Tennessee. He looks like a franchise quarterback on and off the field. He is better in the pocket than anyone could have hoped and his athleticism and speed make him a dangerous player outside of it. He is a dream for any coaching staff.
Due to this, the Titans do not need to worry about the quarterback position, hopefully for a very long time. They have their guy. This is one of the primary reasons the blockbuster trade with the Los Angeles Rams was even possible. If the Titans were in the market for a franchise quarterback, there is very little chance they trade out of the number one spot in the 2016 draft. But due to Webster and Whisenhunt sticking to their guns and taking Marcus Mariota last year, that allowed new Titans’ general manager Jon Robinson to work some magic and make a deal that will likely improve the team in the coming years.
So for that and only that, thank you, Ken Whisenhunt and Ruston Webster.