The best thing Mike Vrabel said about a Tim Kelly Titans' offense

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The personnel was bad, sure, but even so the Titans’ 2022 offense was stale and predictable. See a certain down and distance or personnel package and the scoreboard might as well have flashed run or pass.

Tim Kelly

© George Walker IV / Tennessean.com / USA TODAY NETWORK

That’s why I thought the most significant thing Mike Vrabel said in his Zoom call with local media to discuss the changes to his staff addressed that and how he sees room for significant change -- if not in the Titans' offensive identity, in ways that sort of surround and present that identity.

“There are things that I believe in,” he said “I think that you have to be able to be efficient throwing the football and we weren’t as efficient as we needed to be. We turned it over too many times. I think you have to take care of the football. I think you have to play with a physical style, whether that’s throwing the football and you’ve got guys who are cleaning out the pocket… I believe in mixing tempos, having the ability to play with different personnel groups.

“And really finding out what we have available. What we’re able to add to the roster and being creative with who we have and not just having guys who are in there when we throw the football and having guys who are in there when we run the football. I think looking for speed, looking for versatility, those are things that I’ve talked to Ran (Carthon) about and he and I will continue to have conversations about that, making sure we’re doing our best to hire versatile coaches and players that can have an element of speed and playmaking ability but also some versatility.

“So I know that we have the flexibility that when we complete this roster, we’ll be able to go in a bunch of different directions from different personnel groups and getting in the same formations doing ultimately what our players do best and what they can handle.”

That certainly sounds different from what we just saw and promising and exciting too. The Titans need to be able to go in more different directions, drive at different speeds and adjust to the road the defense puts down in front of them.

After all, the most recent version was the first in franchise history that didn't top 27 points in a single game. The Titans average just 17.5 points a game and scored under 20 points 11 times.

To accomplish what Vrabel wants will require Carthon to work with the coach to get players who fit well, which the new GM has said is his mission. And it will require the new offensive coordinator, Tim Kelly, who was previously the passing game coordinator, to maximize the methods to get to those results, with play design and play calling.

He will have input from Charles London, the new passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach, and the rest of the offensive staff, and Vrabel of course.

In his first year with the Titans, Kelly was a background guy, his role a mystery beyond the title and his early practice work with the tight ends.

“Outside of practice it was a lot of preparation in advance,” Vrabel said. “He would come into Todd (Downing) and be able to meet with me and say, ‘This is what we can expect.’ He was able to work ahead, he wasn’t focusing on necessarily calling the game. He helped put together the first- and second-down passing game and helped communicate with Todd through the third-down, present that.

“And then ultimately we’d go in with a game plan, then it has to get executed and somebody’s got to call it. It wasn’t like when it was a pass it was Tim’s responsibility. Tim was here to support the offense and to provide working knowledge of the defense and to be able to help with the first-and second-down installation, third down and to work with Todd as well as myself on the red zone.”

One note regarding first- and second-down passing: When the game was within 14 points, the Titans completed just 188 of 289 passes in 2022, both the fourth-fewest in the NFL. So one of the key elements of influence Vrabel mentioned was not something that was particularly prominent

apple icon 144x144 precomposedLondon won’t be able to do as much looking ahead during the season, since he will also be coaching the quarterbacks.

“But he will help put together the overall plan in the spring, and then help Tim as the team goes through camp and into the season,” Vrabel said. “Still one person has to make sure that they are leading the offense. That will be Tim making sure that everybody’s voice is heard and making sure we are calling a sound football game.”

Vrabel certainly wasn’t looking to take shots at Downing and emphasized he was not looking back.

But it’s hard not to take a lot of what he said about what he wants going forward as things he did not get last year,, including the calling of “a sound football game.”

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