The Tennessee Titans made history last week, even though no one really wanted to overplay the news. But the hiring of former college and pro football player as well as scout and team executive Ran Carthon was major news. He is the eighth Black GM in the NFL, and the sixth hired over the last two years. It also is a first for the Titans.
But rather than race, the word that was emphasized most often during his introductory press conference was collaboration. It was the same word being constantly used in the offseason by both head coach Mike Vrabel and majority owner Amy Adams Strunk. Aside from his main task of trying to create a roster that can return the Titans to contention, Carthon stressed he would be collaborating with Vrabel, and that he felt the two could forge a good working relationship.
“Mike Vrabel is at the top of my to-do list,” Carthon said. “Us working together and forging a relationship and coming up with a plan on how to build this roster. There are a multitude of things we need to do, that we need to fix, to make this organization better, but my No.1 priority is spending more time with Mike Vrabel and learning the systems that are here in place and how I can help improve upon them, which will help us building a championship team.”
Carthon was also very complimentary of Vrabel, saying, “I’ve always respected him,” Carthon said. “[When we met] we had a level of conversation that could have went [for] hours.” Carthon said. “Our ground base of football, it comes from a similar place. … I am looking forward to working with him in building this team.”
Carthon is taking over the reins of a team that finished 30th in the NFL in scoring, averaging only 17.5 points a game in an era where offense rules. The secondary finished dead last in most categories, and the offensive line was riddled with injuires and inconsistent. But most importantly, there is a big question mark at quarterback. Ryan Tannehill has his least productive season as a starter, was injured twice, and didn’t really have that great a year when there. Number two QB rookie Malik Willis proved so erratic and essentially not ready to play that the Titans had to go into their last two games with career backup Joshua Dobbs taking over despite his not even having been on the team for the first 15 games. That obviously is not a formula for success.
But Carthon also wants fans to not have any illusions about what he can or can’t do immediately. “I can be the greatest talent evaluator of all time, but if I can’t bring Mike the players that he needs to fit his system, then it is not going to work,” he said. “We are not here to collect talent, we are here to build a team.”
But most importantly, he continued to return to the collaboration point,,while sidestepping any questions of whether he was totally in charge of personnel decisions.”I don’t think that matters, because the word, and what we truly believe here, is collaborating,” he explained. “I think all of that comes down to is a matter of ego. Mike and I are here to work together, and we are going to bring the people in here that we see fit. We are not going to see it the same way every time, but he and I will have the mutual respect to be able to work through that and get the right people in here.”
One thing is certain: the Titans are a team in need of a boost. The question of who is in charge pales next to the bigger question of what players will be back, which won’t, and what additions will be made. The contract status of star tackle Jeffery Simmons also must be resolved.
Ran Carthon has plenty of work ahead of him, and it’s going to be quite an offseason.