Paul Kuharsky: I’ve said until it’s announced that Dick LeBeau is official in Arizona that I wouldn’t count the Titans out. Jerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette knows LeBeau and still has the Titans in play. I feel confident the Titans would love to have him. Ken Whisenhunt and his staff are coaching the Senior Bowl today, so maybe things pick up next week.

Paul Kuharsky: I’m surprised if the continuity theme goes so far as to keep everyone employed. But I don’t know the guys on this staff well enough at this point to be able to say who was a primary issue with his group's poor performance, and outside of tight ends I don’t know that we could say any group performed well. Typically, a new coach hires someone he didn’t know well or inherits someone that he doesn’t hit it off with, which leads to change. There is no indication of that so far. I think the staff will remain intact unless LeBeau is added. If Whisenhunt parts with ways with someone now, he’s hurt that guy in terms of his next employment opportunity as staffs are filling up.

Paul Kuharsky: How else would they build but through the draft and free agency? They’d love to build everything through the draft, but seven picks won’t do enough to fix this team, so they are going to have to make other moves. And it wouldn’t be a smart strategy to predetermine a focus on one side of the ball in the draft vs. free agency, because it should depend on who’s available to them via which avenue. If there is a free agent they love, they should jump and not wait on the draft at the spot.

Paul Kuharsky: Picking up on the previous answer, I don’t know that it’s particularly wise to say, “We must have an experienced X and we can more easily have a rookie Y.” It’s all player by player, spot by spot, so long as they wind up with a mix. It’s easier, historically, for a running back to step in out of college and play right away. (I don’t think, by the way, they’d put it on the list on the same level as a lot of those spots.) If I had a choice of experience at one of the spots on your list, I think I’d pick safety. But if there isn’t a decent experienced safety, I wouldn’t force it. Devin McCourty from New England would be an incredible get and he and his twin brother, Jason McCourty, could play together. Here’s a list of safeties heading toward free agency.

Paul Kuharsky: I can’t pretend to be able to predict Bud Adams if he were alive. But the biggest thing about Vince Young for Bud was that he was from Houston and went to Texas. Jameis Winston is from Bessemer, Alabama, and went to Florida State.

Paul Kuharsky: I’m sorry but it’s simply too early for me to be able to offer an opinion on that. I know Leonard Williams is widely regarded as a top defender. But Greg Cosell of NFL Films said his initial review led him to think the USC end is not especially explosive. I think the Titans would be well-served by explosiveness out of that pick if it’s a defender.

Paul Kuharsky: I’ve not asked anyone about Adrian Peterson, but I don’t see them chasing a guy who’s had the issue he’s had. And I don’t see them making one of their big moves at running back, though given the guys they’ve chosen to believe in, addressing the position -- again -- wouldn’t be the worst idea.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Titans aren’t expected to receive a compensatory draft pick in 2015.

They lost cornerback Alterraun Verner to Tampa Bay in free agency last offseason, but added linebacker Wesley Woodyard and right tackle Michael Oher. (Quality of play isn’t a factor; contracts and playing time are.)

(Here’s Over the Cap’s projected compensatories.)

Odds are they won’t get a compensatory pick in 2016, either.

The list of players they could lose in free agency is an unimpressive one, with only one player -- outside linebacker Derrick Morgan -- qualifying as anything close to marquee.

The Titans have pledged to be active in free agency, and the odds suggest they will add more than they can lose.

Here’s Pro Football Focus’ breakdown of the Titans’ free agents.

Only four guys have significant positive grades. Two of them are the team’s punter and kicker and a third is left tackle Michael Roos, who’s recovering from significant knee surgery and said he’s contemplating retirement.
Reading the coverage of the Tennessee Titans...

Oregon State’s Sean Mannion has a skill set that fits with Ken Whisenhunt's mindset, writes John Glennon of The Tennessean.

Glennon looks at Mannion and the other quarterbacks playing for Whisenhunt at the Senior Bowl.

Whisenhunt says the players the Titans are coaching at the Senior Bowl have gotten better as the week has gone on, according to a video report with Mike Keith and Amie Wells of the Titans' website.

Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty showed off his skills throwing red zone one-on-ones, says Joe Fann of the Titans' website.
Mel Kiper Jr. gave the Tennessee Titans a C-plus after the 2014 NFL draft.

In a new write-up in which he adjusts his grades factoring in what guys did in their rookie season -- and despite the solid showing by first-year guys in Tennessee -- the grade stays the same.

You can read Kiper's re-grade here.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Nine teams are eligible to be covered by HBO for the annual “Hark Knocks” series that follows a team behind the scenes through training camp.

Without a team stepping forward to be spotlighted, the league and network can choose from teams that don’t meet exemption criteria.

That list, per Richard Deitch of Sports Illustrated: The Giants, Washington, the Vikings, the Buccaneers, the Rams, the Browns, the Texans, the Jaguars and the Titans.

The draft and free agency will have a bearing on all those team, of course. There may be a coach and/or GM who decides having cameras around and players watched extra closely will be good for their team.

There may be an owner who trumps his employees and raises his hand for the show, eager to be seen and/or get TV time.

While I didn’t find last season’s series on the Atlanta Falcons particularly interesting, I think a behind-the-scenes look at any team noteworthy. We get to things that are typically shielded from view.

For HBO and league purposes, the Titans would be the least interesting team on the list.

It might be good for Ken Whisenhunt, who people would see is more interesting than he typically appears publicly. But GM Ruston Webster is a very low-key guy, and the roster is filled with low-key players.

There would be an interesting storyline regarding Zach Mettenberger and whatever new quarterback comes in. We’d likely learn more about the close friendship between Taylor Lewan and Mettenberger.

How things work and unfold can be compelling, but lacking big personalities and big storylines makes it less likely to be good television.

The Titans simply don’t have storylines like Tom Coughlin trying to fix the Giants, Robert Griffin III trying to save his career in Washington, the Vikings presumably post-Adrian Peterson, the Bucs with the first pick from the draft, the Rams with their loaded defensive front, the Browns and Johnny Manziel or the Texans with J.J. Watt.

The Jaguars certainly rank at the bottom of the list too. But energetic coach Gus Bradley would make for good TV and prompts me to score even the Jaguars higher than the Titans.

Coming off a 2-14 season, the Titans have a lot of work to do. The additions they make will produce some quality storylines.

None of them will make the Titans the team the NFL and HBO want to feature.
Reading the coverage of the Tennessee Titans ...

The Titans need a big, physical receiver and Ken Whisenhunt and his staff are coaching two at the Senior Bowl, Michigan State's 6-foot-3, 193-pound Tony Lippett, and Washington State's 6-2, 219-pound Vince Mayle. The story from John Glennon of The Tennessean.

Deflating footballs is something Whisenhunt said he’s never even discussed, says Glennon.

In this mock draft from Bucky Brooks of NFL.com, USC defensive lineman Leonard Williams is the pick for the Titans at No. 2.

To which I say: Greg Cosell of NFL Films said on my Nashville radio show that he’s not sure what Leonard Williams is, that he’s not explosive, that he’s not a 3-technique. To Cosell, Williams is a 3-4 defensive end. To me, a not-explosive defensive end isn’t going to be a big cure for the Titans' issues.

Former Titans defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth pleaded guilty to reckless boating, says WVLT in Knoxville. (Hat tip to David Boclair.)

Tom Gower of Total Titans looks at the breakdown of running back carries against his preseason prediction.

Wednesday’s Senior Bowl report from the Titans website with Mike Keith, Amie Wells and Joe Fann. (Video.)
We will hear a lot between now and the draft about the potential for Eagles coach Chip Kelly, who now has power over personnel in Philadelphia, to make a move to reunite with Marcus Mariota.

Kelly coached Mariota, the Heisman Trophy winner, at Oregon.

[+] EnlargeMarcus Mariota
AP Photo/Jae C. HongIf the Eagles want to move up to No. 2 for Marcus Mariota they would have to offer the Titans a blockbuster package.
The Eagles have an uncertain quarterback situations after Nick Foles drop-off in 2014 prior to his season-ending injury. Mark Sanchez replaced Foles, had mixed results and has an expiring contract.

Mark Eckel of NJ.com has a source who told him the Eagles will try to move up to get Mariota, though they know it will be difficult.

Could this mean Philadelphia is a trade partner for the Titans?

The cost of jumping from the Eagles' spot at 20 to the Titans' spot at 2 could make it impossible. Eckel’s report acknowledges it would probably take two trades to get in range for Mariota.

If Tampa Bay doesn't take Mariota first overall and the Eagles wanted to move to No. 2 to select him, it would take a monster deal.

In 2012, Washington gave up the fifth pick in the draft, the 33rd pick in the draft, a 2013 first-round pick and a 2014 first-round pick to get the second pick from the Rams.

That was for a three-spot drop in the first round and a player, Robert Griffin III, generally regarded by the league as a can’t-miss talent.

Mariota won’t likely have as much pull/value.

But considering the haul the Rams collected for a small first-round drop, the Titans expectation for a move from 2 to 20 would be gigantic.

The old-school draft value chart (often called the Jimmy Johnson chart) should be getting deemphasized a bit in favor of new analytical charts like this one from Chase Stuart of Football Perspective.

“Teams generally stick to the Jimmy Johnson chart at the top of the draft, although that can change in years where the top picks aren't considered to be as valuable,” Stuart told me. “Remember, a No. 2 pick could be RG3 [trade everything!]or Luke Joeckel [trade nothing!].”

The entire draft order is not out, though the Titans should have 2, 33 in the second round and 66 in the third while the Eagles should have 20, 52 in the second and 84 in the third. From there picks will be influenced by compensatory picks that get splashed into the end of the remaining rounds.

I used the compensatory projections of Over The Cap to flesh out the full 256 picks.

By my estimate -- emphasis on estimate -- the Titans will have roughly 3,607 points on the Jimmy Johnson chart and the Eagles just 1,503.

Philadelphia’s entire draft would come up 1,097 points short of the value of the No. 2 pick (2,600) and no one in the NFL circa 2014 is giving away an entire draft plus in exchange for one player.

The package the Eagles would have to put together to get the Titans pick would be enormous, with implications into 2016 and probably 2017. It’s hard to imagine Kelly, no matter the degree of his affection for Mariota, would or could make the move if the quarterback is available second on April 30.

In the fantasy world where it happens, the Titans could obviously make such a deal and then trade back up to still get an impact guy closer to the top of the draft.

A trade from 1978 is hardly going to function as a model. But here is what the Oilers did to move from No. 17 to No. 1 back then to get Earl Campbell.

As we move forward, here are two good resources from Football Perspective for examining draft pick trades:

Jimmy Johnson Draft Pick Value Calculator.

Football Perspective Draft Pick Trade Calculator.


video
ESPN Titans reporter Paul Kuharsky says big pieces of the team’s existing secondary won’t be on the field when offseason workouts begin because of injuries.
Reading the coverage of the Tennessee Titans...

Tommy Smith's declaration that the Titans are not for sale leaves Tennessean columnist David Climer searching for indications it can work. "I'm struggling to find examples that things are markedly better than they were on Bud [Adams'] watch. The product on the field is at an all-time low. The level of complaints by fans about the game-day experience at LP Field is at an all-time high. Some point out that Smith has empowered a few key figures in the front office in ways that bottom-line Bud never did. Great. But show me where all this empowering has really changed things."

While the Titans' coaching staff is intact at the Senior Bowl, Ken Whisenhunt was unwilling to say they will move forward with the status quo, writes John Glennon of The Tennessean.

A closer look at the edge rushers the Titans are getting a view of at the Senior Bowl, from Glennon.

Whisenhunt really wanted Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota to join the Titans-coached team at the Senior Bowl, but the prospect passed, says Glennon.

To which I say: It makes perfect sense that Whisenhunt would want time with a top quarterback prospect. Don't read more into it than that.

Redrafting the 2014 first round, Taylor Lewan goes 10th to Detroit, and the Titans wind up with Kyle Fuller, the Virginia Tech cornerback who actually went to the Bears at No. 14. Read more on Doug Farrar's draft for Sports Illustrated.

A breakdown of field position for the Titans' 2014 offense and defense, from Tom Gower of Total Titans.

Senior Bowl takeaways from Joe Fann of the Titans' website.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- We've reached the final post in our series running down the 12 moments that defined the Titans’ disastrous 2014 season.

I put them in rough order, but we certainly could have shuffle the list without much debate.

I know the suspense has been unbearable and it was impossible to predict the winner, especially with 11 other candidates off the board.

So here we go to No. 1.

Game: Bengals 33, Titans 7, Week 3 at Paul Brown Stadium, Sept. 21, 2014

Situation: Tennessee came into the game 1-1 with a win at Kansas City and a loss to Dallas in the books. We still had little idea about who the Titans really were as they got to Cincinnati to take on the Bengals. The Titans trailed 3-0 late in the first quarter and the Bengals moved deep into Tennessee territory.

Play: Facing first-and-10 from the Titans 18, Andy Dalton took the shotgun snap, pitched the ball right to receiver Mohamed Sanu, and leaked out to the left as a receiver. "As soon as I released it, I was like ‘Uh oh,'" Sanu said. "Because they had a guy right there who we didn’t expect to be there." The guy was cornerback Blidi Wreh-Wilson, who’d seen the play in practice as the Titans prepared for the Bengals. They were well aware of Sanu’s propensity to be involved in trick plays. But Wreh-Wilson hesitated, unable to decide if he should go for the ball or crush the quarterback. In that pause, he failed to do either, allowing Dalton to catch it and head for the end zone and a 10-0 lead. "At the end of the day, I have to find a way just to eliminate the touchdown,” Wreh-Wilson said. “Deciding between making a play on the ball or the man, that’s where things got a little tricky for me. I was trying to pick a place to hit him where it would basically eliminate a penalty. When the ball was up in the air, I should have just hit him and that should have been the end of it. Hit him and eliminate the possibility of a run after a catch." His indecision in that moment serves as the top illustration from 2014 of just what the Titans were -- and weren’t.

Here’s a Twitter follower who suggested it:

 

The rundown:

No. 2: Wesley Woodyard's penalty against the Jets

No. 3: Shonn Greene’s goal-line fumble in Baltimore

No. 4: The failed fourth-down sneak against the Browns

No. 5: Zach Mettenberger's pick-6 against the Steelers

No. 6: Pierre Garcon's 70-yard touchdown catch

No. 7: Mettenberger's second shoulder injury

No. 8: Bernard Pollard's dropped interception

No. 9: Mettenberger's bomb to Nate Washington

No. 10: Le'Veon Bell running out the clock

No. 11: Sammie Hill's field goal block against the Jaguars

No 12: Chris Spencer's false start on a kneel down
Take a listen to this week's NFL Nation TV podcast as the crew breaks down the latest in the league's coaching changes.

Host Paul Gutierrez (San Francisco 49ers reporter) and co-hosts Coley Harvey (Cincinnati Bengals reporter) and Mike Wells (Indianapolis Colts reporter) are joined by four other NFL Nation reporters to discuss the recent hirings made by the teams they cover.

Jeff Legwold (Denver Broncos reporter) discusses the hiring of Gary Kubiak, minutes before Kubiak was introduced to media in the Mile High City. Michael C. Wright (Chicago Bears reporter) chats about former Broncos head coach John Fox's recent hiring in the Windy City. Rich Cimini (New York Jets reporter) talks about Todd Bowles becoming the Jets' new head coach. And Bill Williamson (Oakland Raiders reporter) and Gutierrez break down the decisions that brought Jack Del Rio back to the Bay Area, and kept Jim Tomsula there.

Be sure to watch NFL Nation TV live on ESPN.com each Tuesday at 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT, and give the show's podcast a listen following each taping.

Listen to this week's podcast here.
Reading the coverage of the Tennessee Titans…

Inside linebacker Avery Williamson doesn’t think his fine rookie season assures him of anything going forward, writes Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean. "I feel like I have to come in and earn that spot back next year," Williamson said. "I am not going into next season thinking that is going to be my job automatically. That is why this offseason I have to put in a lot of work and be better."

The scoop on Senior Bowl prospects from ESPN’s Todd McShay. One of note who is on McShay’s most-to-prove is Oregon State quarterback Sean Mannion. "Mannion has a prototypical frame for the QB position at 6-5, 220 pounds, and he has the arm to make all the throws," says McShay. "But he needs to be more consistent with his accuracy and his decision-making. He's coming off of a subpar senior season with a 15-8 TD-INT ratio. What I want to see out of him is how he handles pressure. Can he maneuver inside the pocket and make accurate throws on pressure drops?"

Phil Savage, who heads the Senior Bowl, visited with Mike Keith and Amie Wells of the Titans website. (Video.)

NFL Nation TV talks new coaches

January, 20, 2015
Jan 20
11:00
AM ET
Join us today at 1 p.m. ET (10 a.m. PT) for ESPN NFL Nation TV’s Spreecast as episode No. 40 will wrap up Championship Sunday and look ahead to the new coaches settling in across the league.

Host Paul Gutierrez (San Francisco 49ers reporter) and co-hosts Coley Harvey (Cincinnati Bengals reporter) and Mike Wells (Indianapolis Colts reporter) will be joined by four other NFL Nation reporters throughout the show.

Jeff Legwold (Denver Broncos reporter) will let us know what the Gary Kubiak hire means for Peyton Manning, while Michael C. Wright (Chicago Bears reporter) will break down how a defensive-minded John Fox affects Jay Cutler.

Plus, Rich Cimini (New York Jets reporter) will talk all things Todd Bowles and his search for an offensive coordinator before Vaughn McClure (Atlanta Falcons reporter) gives us the latest on the Dirty Birds' search for a head coach and if it’s essentially a package deal with Dan Quinn and Adam Gase.

Gutierrez will also discuss the Bay Area goings-on with the Niners’ choice of Jim Tomsula, why Lane Kiffin would be a curious choice as his offensive coordinator and the Oakland Raiders bringing Jack Del Rio home to the East Bay.

Viewers are encouraged to log in and ask the panelists questions as well as contribute in the chat feature.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Tommy Smith’s strong statements that he won’t entertain the idea of selling the Titans don’t mean he won’t answer his phone.

If prospective NFL owners are determined to get into the league, it’s understandable why they might see the Titans as a target.

But answering the phone and setting a sale in motion are two very different things.

The early returns of Smith’s tenure as the head of the franchise are obviously quite poor. But he’s headed the team for less than two years. While we don’t care to be patient with a coach, a player or an owner, I think Smith has said a lot of the right things and has a lot of the right intentions.

Players and coaches get a degree of patience from their team's owner. Their team's owner may not get patience from the fan base. While it'd be nice, it's not necessary.

"This is a family-owned business, and it is going to be a family-owned business," Smith told Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean. "We meet as a family routinely and we enjoy it. We are proud to be owners, we are proud to be in Nashville, and we are looking forward to resurrecting the situation as far as on-field performance and are working toward that. We are going to build an organization that the city and the fans in Nashville and the mid-South can be proud of."

Whether he is able to turn his comments and intentions into franchise success remains to be seen.

If he can’t, perhaps in a longer term he and his family start to shift to thinking where the idea of a major payout is more attractive than the idea of maintaining a successful family business.

Right now, Smith's screaming that if it would ever happen, it’s a long way off.
[+] EnlargeTommy Smith
Frederick Breedon/Getty ImagesTitans president and CEO Tommy Smith strongly refuted reports that the team is for sale.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Tennessee Titans president and CEO Tommy Smith used strong language to shoot down rumors that his team is for sale.

In an interview with the Tennessean, Smith emphatically said that the team will not be sold and that a report that Peyton Manning could land a piece of ownership and an executive role after his retirement is also way off.

"The team is not for sale," Smith said. "We are not entertaining any conversations in regard to the sale of the team. Period. Any statements that say so are completely off base, and I resent it. It is not helpful to what we are trying to accomplish as an organization and as a family."

Smith called the report connecting Manning and the Titans "nonsense."

"All of that is just nonsense," Smith said. "It's completely unfounded. It's just irresponsible. It's not going to happen. Peyton may retire; I am not saying that's not going to happen. And I want to say I have only the highest regard for Peyton and the Manning family. They are a first-class family; Peyton and Eli and Archie have contributed greatly to the National Football League, and I appreciate their efforts.


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