AFC South Time Machine: The Titans Staff in 5 Years
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The AFC South Time Machine has installed a Mr. Fusion unit and is speeding off toward the future.
All week, I'll be looking at what each front office/coaching staff has to accomplish over the next five years in order to keep its job. Expectations and standards are different in every city. Obviously, the short answer is "win," but there's more to it than that.
Here's what the crystal ball sees for the Tennessee Titans.
Bud Adams Must Stay Alive
Change is glacial in Adams' 89-year-old world. As long as he's kicking, you can bet the Titans are going to think long and hard about any move. Mike Munchak has been with the organization for decades and succeeded Jeff Fisher, who was by far the longest-tenured NFL coach when he stepped down.
The fact is that if Munchak and company clip off between seven and 10 wins every season, they'll probably have jobs for as long as Adams keeps drawing breath.
Jake Locker Must Develop into a Top-15 Starter
This front office spent a high pick on Locker and has taken its time developing him. If he doesn't wind up with the starting job by the end of the season, the Titans will be headed into year three next year with no clear idea if he can cut it.
Three years is an eternity in the NFL, but if the result is a decent-to-good NFL starting quarterback, it's worth the time investment.
If Locker doesn't pan out, it doesn't matter how many other picks GM Ruston Webster lands. The one thing you can't do is blow the quarterback pick. While he wasn't GM when it was made, it's squarely on his plate.
More than that, however, the Titans are undergoing a personality change on offense. They are drafting and building a pass-first attack. Whenever a team transitions from one style of football to another, the pressure builds.
Locker must produce results, or fans and ownership will clamor for the good old days when the Titans ran the ball. That kind of talk typically means someone is losing his job.
The Titans Must Win at Least Two Playoff Games
That's one more playoff win than the franchise has in the past decade, so why two?
Two playoff wins either means the team had two seasons in which it made the playoffs and scored a victory, or it went to the AFC title game (or Super Bowl) at least once. Either way, given the kind of institutional stability the Titans love, that level of success will probably insulate everyone for a few years.
The Titans firmly occupy the NFL's middle class, never sinking too low or rising too high. Webster, Munchak and friends don't need to bring home multiple titles, but they do need to show progress.
A little postseason glory will go a long way in giving them job security for the foreseeable future.
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