Before the 2020 NFL season started, the Titan’s coaches and general manager made a few decisions that many people questioned. They traded Jurrell Casey for almost nothing in return. They did not re-sign Logan Ryan, Tajae Sharpe, or Jack Conklin, and they picked up Jadeveon Clowney and Vic Beasley which both proved to be busts. Kamalei Correa was traded midway through the season for a 6th round pick because he was hardly getting any playing time, and the biggest non-acquisition of all was not hiring a Defensive Coordinator.
The Titan’s 2020 season was a whirlwind. They were the first team to have a Covid-Outbreak. They had the worst 3rd down defense in Franchise history and somehow, they managed to put together an 11-5 season and win the AFC South. Derrick Henry became the 8th player in NFL history to rush for 2,000 yards and Ryan Tannehill also had a career year. Tannehill also broke the franchise record for the most touchdowns by a Quarterback in Franchise history with 40 total touchdowns in a season.
Arthur Smith has been with the Titan’s organization since 2011. He was the Defensive Quality Control Coach. Smith eventually climbed the ranks and the organization promoted him to offensive coordinator in 2019. When Tannehill took over as QB, Smith put together a great system for the offense to flourish. He used Derrick Henry’s strengths, not just running it up the middle all the time. He designed pitch plays, counter runs, sweeps, and off-tackle plays. Derrick Henry is an incredible talent, full of speed and power. His ability to make people miss and break tackles is why those types of plays work for him.
The Titans came out blazing in the first quarter versus the Ravens. The second quarter was a completely different story. They had -7 yards the whole quarter. Smith kept calling run plays right up the middle and never switched it up. It was not working, and I thought, surely he would make some adjustments in the run game going into the 2nd half. The whole second half, he continued to call the same type of rushing plays. He did not play on Derrick’s strengths at all. It made absolutely no sense. On a 2nd and 2 and 3rd and 2 during a pivotal part of the game, they called two pass plays that fell incomplete then Mike Vrabel decided to punt on 4th and 2. I truly believe his play calling was a big reason for the stagnant offensive performance. The defense actually played one of the best games of the season.
Look, I am not blaming the entire loss on Smith or Vrabel and Arthur deserves a ton of credit for producing one of the greatest offenses in Titan’s history. The fact is, your only as good as your last game in the NFL. Arthur Smith will probably get a head coaching job somewhere and he deserves it. The Titans just need to figure out what they are going to do this offseason. They could bring in someone who will build upon what Arthur started and be more consistent in doing what actually works. In the Raven’s game, I personally would have stuck with the old adage “If it’s not broke, then don’t try and fix it”.