The Tao of Robinson
b: the process of nature by which all things change and which is to be followed for a life of harmony
I like Jon Robinson. It’s obvious that phrase “good is the enemy of great” is not lost on him. Beating the division champion Jacksonville Jaguars to get into the franchises first postseason since 2008 was good. Having the team comeback, on the road, when it was down 21 to 3 to the Kansas City Chiefs was good. Seeing Marcus Mariota put the team on his back briefly and Derrick Henry finally have that breakout game was boarder line great. But in the end, it wasn’t enough.
Drafting the Future
Despite the mantra of “Exotic smashmouth” which to me means three and a half yards and a cloud of dust instead of just the normal three yards, I was ok with that. At some point in every season, a team has to put their collective hands in the dirt and run the football. Like the Titans did the second half of that Kansas City playoff game. It was a beautiful thing. But Robinson wasn’t only building the team for that. In three of the first four picks of the draft, the Titans picked skill position guys. Yes, there were team needs addressed, the main need being more weapons for Marcus Mariota. Weapons with quick strike capacity.
Robinson plucked three receivers and a cornerback out of the draft. You could make the argument that one of the receivers is a tight end and more important in running the football than throwing it. I would argue that while Jonnu Smith is a solid blocker, he is more of a hybrid. He can block but his true value will come catching the ball down the middle of the field. A younger version of pro bowler Delaine Walker at the position. This is after moving up to grab Jack Conklin the year before and grabbing Henry in the second round. Protect Mariota, then give him playmakers to get the ball too. That is called a plan my friends.
Leader of Men
Mike Mularkey did a nice job getting all the Titans to move in the same direction. The franchise was not competing at a level that satisfied anyone. You do not become a head coach in the NFL and have any success at all without the team following you. But was Mularkey the right leader? He was for the two-plus seasons he guided the team. Good leaders get good results. Those are not the results that, at the end of the day, Robinson and the front office wants. Titans owner Amy Adams Strunk put the first domino in place when she hired Robinson. It was a matter of time before they fell and the Titans would take on the loo that Robinson wants.
Mike Vrabel could be that type of leader. “He was always one of those guys in the locker room that really knew what was going on. Great anticipation, really smart, his football IQ is through the roof.” – Willie McGinest (former teammate and three-time Superbowl champion) It is obvious that Vrabel was Robinson’s first choice. The right man to help in creating a franchise that year in and year out is in the conversation to be a potential Superbowl winner. Vrabel must win the locker. I think he’s said and done all the right things to do that. The group of guys on the field have a genuine “togetherness” attitude. If Vrabel can cement that into a singularly focused vision the Titans could go a long way towards Robinson’s dream of bringing a championship to Nashville.
If coach Vrabel can mold all the talent that Robinson has assembled, both on and off the field, into a well-oiled machine the sky’s the limit. They already believe in each other. Now is the time to make believers out of everyone else. I would give Robinson an “A” grade for the past season.
Jon Robinson has almost all the pieces that he needs in place. I’ll close by saying this. Really and truly for the first time since taking the Titans GM position, Jon Robinson is on the clock.
Want to continue the conversation? Dean Williams is the managing editor of the Tennessee Titans for fullpresscoverage.com. You can find him on twitter @badappleffb by email at firstname.lastname@example.org