The Titans backup quarterback situation
A gazillion emails seem to dictate I answer some Qs here and discuss this topic.
Simply put, Jon Robinson was not proactive in regards to the quarterback position.
Was Coach Mike Mularkey, offensive coordinator Terry Robiskie, and/or quarterbacks coach Jason Michael to blame? I have no idea. It seems likely that they discussed the personnel at quarterback. The General Manager acquires players and builds the roster, so the coaches skirt responsibility here.
The coaches responsibility is to train the players, create an offense that suits their abilities, and help the quarterbacks to perform well.
After going 1-6 with the Cowboys and struggling with the Titans in 2016, it wasn’t surprising to see Matt Cassel struggle yet again on Sunday.
How come the Titans didn’t trade for a quarterback or draft a quarterback? Let’s get back to this in a bit.
One scenario that no one has discussed is this: Matt Cassel had a bad game and players do have bad games occasionally.
The Titans offensive line has been excellent through four games; probably the best unit in the NFL. On Sunday, however, they allowed six sacks and struggled to create holes for the running backs. Lots of quarterbacks throughout NFL history have struggled because they were under pressure too often and didn’t have enough time to throw.
The bolded needs to be choked down for a second. We’ve got a scoop of blame for Robinson, a scoop for Mularkey and are looking for other people to blame. Bad luck does happen in sports- look at the Giants offense that lost four wide receivers and their quarterback had an MRI on his neck on Sunday. Mariota has had bad days too. Let’s choke down that possibility and then move on with the thought many seem to have that Cassel isn’t that good, is past his prime, or is a “has been.”
The Titans staff have praised Cassel for his work in the film room, locker room, and help in developing Mariota. Every characterization of Cassel seems to be that he is professional and a good person to have around the team. He was practically assured a roster spot and they are glad to have him on the team.
Alex Tanney was 29 and on the Titans offseason roster. They have been developing him for years. The former youtube star survived several coaching changes and continued to be the third-string developmental project. The issue with him is, however, that he was 29. At some point, teams are supposed to evaluate a player as to whether he can “step up” and then either promote the player or release him. The Titans were always “gun-shy” about making this decision on Tanney. It may seem a bit wise, but were they going to wait until he was 40 years old to make a decision? That’s the “air” created when a developmental project is still hanging around many years after graduating from college. The Titans have an “out’ here. They were widely presumed to only keep two quarterbacks. Tanney did not have any practice squad eligibility. He
The Titans have a false “out’ here. They were widely presumed to only keep two quarterbacks. Tanney did not have any practice squad eligibility. He had to beat out Cassel in order to make the team. Cassel had surgery on his thumb before training camp and did not exactly perform at his best. Many camp visitors preferred Tanney after watching them practice. Now we go back to the intangibles. The staff liked Cassel and he has far more experience than Tanney. The Titans were probably going to keep Cassel. Tanney broke his leg during the last preseason game and was put on injured reserve. The Titans didn’t have to cut him, but could let him recover and get another chance in camp next season. That was their out.
Evaluating the combo of Cassel and Tanney as “not good enough” never seemed to happen. Since Cassel was with the Patriots when Robinson was there and Tanney has been with the Titans for a long time, many fans seem to feel that the Titans should have known the two weren’t good enough. The fans points of view
The fans want hope. That seems to be Robinson’s oversight here. They weren’t necessarily looking for an elite backup or a first-round dynamo, but some passer that could come in the game and bring some hope with him.
Colin Kaepernick has not been good in years. He was 3-13 his last two years with the 49ers. His decline was quite similar to Vince Young’s. There were poor throws, poor reads, and everyone seemed to criticize his choices and throwing motion. There is this misconception that he played as well as he did the year the Niners went to the Super Bowl. That’s like saying Young is as good as he was during his rookie year. Kaep’s game declined, plain and simple. The outspoken soul, the flag protests, and any other drama have nothing to do with his play declining over the years.
As evidenced by the list above, the pickings were slim. JRob did not have a slew of quality backup quarterbacks that he could readily trade for. The quarterback position is rather weak throughout the NFL. The impressive starters seem to have garnered the attention of many as the backups flounder.
During the last two drafts, Titans fans wanted the team to select two quarterbacks. Their opinions were voiced loud and proud on every social network. Keenan Reynolds was a former Navy Midshipman who set an NCAA record for touchdowns with 88. He was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens in the sixth round of the 2016 NFL draft. Joshua Dobbs was a Tennessee Volunteer who was selected by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the fourth round of the 2017 NFL draft. Titans fans coveted these two players to be selected by their team.
Dobbs is on the Steelers as their third-string quarterback.
Reynolds was thought of as a “jack of all trades” type of player. Reynolds played running back well in the predraft contests and was impressive. The former Navy quarterback didn’t play quarterback or running back with the Ravens, but was converted to wide receiver. After spending last season on the practice squad, he performed well in the Ravens training camp this summer. Eventually, the Ravens decided to release their multi-faceted player.
When Alex Tanney broke his leg, why didn’t the Titans sign Reynolds? Reynolds’ “swiss army knife” ability could have been an asset on this team.
One reason could be Kevin Dodd and some other players that have struggled and curiously taken up a roster spot. Just one needed to be cut so the Titans could add Reynolds. There are several players that have yet to play in a game so they don’t distinctly prove roster value. The Titans seem to still be holding out hope for Dodd to develop though.
Jon Robinson discussed trades with the Patriots involving their cornerback Malcolm Butler- that was widely reported and confirmed. The Colts traded for Patriots backup Jacoby Brissett. The Colts gave up a struggling wide receiver to acquire the former third-round pick. The Titans had one of those in Tajae Sharpe. The Patriots were reportedly seeking a player or a fourth-round pick for Brissett. Brissett has filled in fine (not great) for Andrew Luck. How come JRob didn’t try to acquire Brissett?
Joe Webb has been in the NFL a long time. He has played both quarterback and receiver in the NFL. The Panthers practiced with the Titans for a few days this summer. The Titans saw Webb up close and then Webb played very well during their preseason game. Webb was released by the Panthers around the same time that Tanney was put on IR. Why didn’t the Titans sign Webb?
What is the summary? What’s the biggest issue here? HOPE!!!
If Matt Cassel plays on Sunday, the Titans have to create an offensive scheme that suits Cassel. The grumpy fans need some hope. Some short passes to any of their dynamic players could work. Derrick Henry, Taywan Taylor, or DeMarco Murray taking a screen pass twenty yards will get the fans stirred up. A few short passes to “always reliable” Delanie Walker would help too. Another play fans love is a pass to Taylor Lewan. As long as Cassel can have some early success, the Titans fans will “jump on board.”
If Cassel struggles and if Brandon Weeden struggles too, Titans fans will continue to be upset with the backup quarterback situation.
As the backup quarterbacks fare, so will the scoops of blame for Jon Robinson and the coaching staff. Two scoops? Or none?
Titans need to have some early success on offense. Cassel will suddenly have many fans.
If Marcus Mariota plays, then what can the Titans “brass” do to restore hope? Sign Reynolds to the practice squad. Fans adore him. If Tyler Ferguson isn’t “the answer” then why not bring in Reynolds? His navy background and professional demeanor would fit in well with the team too. If MM8 takes the field, the Titans still need to give the fans some hope with their backups.