Breaking down the Titans’ 2013 coaching staff

As the news has come out piecemeal, I intentionally haven't written anything on the changes the Titans have made on their coaching staff. With today's press release from the team announcing the changes, I think it's safe to assume the Titans are done making changes. Given the scope of the turnover involved, I think it's worth going through the various position.

Offensive Coordinator
Was: Dowell Loggains (interim)
Is: Dowell Loggains
There wasn't a lot of surprise involved in this move. The only suspense died earlier this week, when Tom Moore announced he wouldn't be with the Titans in 2013 and at least strongly implied Loggains would be the offensive coordinator. The offense was terrible the final five games of 2012 when Loggains served in an interim role, and more than terrible, it didn't seem to have an animating principle. Yes, the offensive line was shaken up, but I'm not sure what the Titans were even trying to do. Loggains will have an offseason to make the offense more in his preferred image, whatever that image actually is.

Quarterbacks
Was: Dowell Loggains
Is: Dave Ragone
Ragone, a Chris Palmer guy, manages to stay on in the new scheme, albeit with a shift over from wide receivers coach to his playing position. He was a bit of an odd fit as a receivers coach, and the quotes about Tom Moore teaching receivers a better way to do things in his first week as a consultant wasn't the most encouraging sign. His involvement in the passing game and experience at the position should make him a decent hire, though of course we won't know until we see the results. Bonus: he's just a tad over four years younger than Matt Hasselbeck.

Running Backs
Was: Jim Skipper
Is: Sylvester Croom
Maybe most famous for his tenure as Mississippi State's head coach, he was running backs coach for the Jaguars last year and for the Rams the three seasons before that. Somehow, this is his first time working for the NFL team owned by Bud Adams.

Wide Receivers
Was: Dave Ragone
Is: Shawn Jefferson
I've already mentioned Ragone. Jefferson was a bit of a surprise ouster earlier this offseason after serving as the Lions wide receiver coach for the past five seasons. Unfortunately, he does not get to bring Calvin Johnson with him. Jefferson was originally drafted by the Houston Oilers.

Tight Ends
Was: John Zernhelt
Is: George Henshaw
Sprung from durance vile at long last! I'm not sure if this has ever been confirmed on the record, but Henshaw previously served as the Titans tight ends coach from 1997 through 2005. His contract was terminated at the end of the 2005 season. His son played football at West Virginia in 2004, with Adam "Pacman" Jones. The Titans were trying to decide if Pacman was simply a bit immature or something more. The Henshaw clan word was immaturity. As it turned out, there was something more. Jared Cook was a bit of a disappointment for most observers this season, though I thought he was more the victim of too high expectations and general overrating of his traits. Craig Stevens may have regressed a bit as a run blocker, but played a bigger role in the passing game.

Offensive Line
Was: Bruce Matthews
Is: Bruce Matthews
Wake me up when the Titans develop an offensive lineman into a starter within his first three seasons out of college. They haven't done so since Michael Roos and David Stewart were in their third seasons in 2007, which is also when Fernando Velasco was in his final season at Georgia. Well, being the head coach's best friend is good for your job security.

Defensive Coordinator
Was: Jerry Gray
Is: Jerry Gray
Hey, you gave up more points than any other defense in franchise history and got way worse in your second season as head coach, when you started implementing your scheme after running what they had been running the first year? The team handed out three big contracts to defensive players, including one acquisition and re-signing two guys, and all three of them had disappointing seasons? Don't worry, it's all the players' fault!

Defensive Line
Was: Tracy Rocker, with help from Keith Millard as pass rush coach
Is: Tracy Rocker, with help from Keith Millard as pass rush coach
I don't get it. Apparently Rocker wasn't a good enough pass rush coach, so they went out and hired Millard. Millard seemed to be effective, as Derrick Morgan credited him for his improvement as a pass rusher and linebackers Zach Brown and Akeem Ayers were close to the team lead in sacks. Aside from Morgan, it was hard to find too many real bright spots on the defensive line. Sen'Derrick Marks was semi-competent, finally, in his fourth season, but the Titans ranked 31st on runs up the middle by Football Outsiders metrics. I guess it's once again all the players' fault!

Linebackers
Was: Frank Bush
Is: Chet Parlavecchio
I still struggle at times with Akeem Ayers' play, as I've noted before, but Zach Brown really came on as the season went on. Naturally, the Titans fired Frank Bush. Granted, he was by all accounts a terrible defensive coordinator for the Texans, but on the face of it that was a very curious move. Obviously a defense that gives up this many points should expect some staff turnover, but of the position groups on defense, linebacker played the best relative to my expectations. I'm not going to get too overworked on a position coach, especially because I'm not good at evaluating player technique, but firing somebody who seemed to do a good job and giving the job to the head coach's good friend, even if it's somebody who played the position, just stinks to high heaven in my book.

Secondary
Was: Brett Maxie
Is: Brett Maxie
The Titans hired Brett Maxie last offseason, replacing Marcus Robertson, and the secondary didn't quite cover itself in glory. Michael Griffin had two actual ball skill-related interceptions, along with plenty of other not so great plays and Jordan Babineaux was really exposed. Meanwhile, the cornerbacks looked a lot worse without Cortland Finnegan around and Coty Sensabaugh, unlike Zach Brown, never stopped looking like a rookie. Oh well, I guess it's once again all the players' fault!

Special Teams
Was: Alan Lowry
Is: Nate Kaczor
I've covered how the special teams did for the Titans in my recent posts on field position; the Titans were basically average on special teams, ending up a bit below average by Football Outsiders numbers thanks to a down season by Rob Bironas. The Titans had much worse seasons under Alan Lowry. Kaczor served as the Titans' assistant offensive line coach last year, but actually has experience on special teams, serving as the Jaguars special teams assistant from 2008-11. By FO numbers, the Jaguars ranked 7th in the league one year and in the 20s the other three seasons. 

Ah, well, there's a non-zero chance the Titans go 4-12 next year and everybody gets fired anyway.

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