With only five wins in their past 32 games, it was time for the Tennessee Titans to try something different.
That “something different” began with the hiring of Jon Robinson as general manager and with changes in the coaching staff brought on when Mike Mularkey was promoted from interim duties to full-time.
But the biggest change that has to come from the Titans organization is the change to approach and the culture, which had eroded over the years into one of futility and losing.
“Everybody is buying into the philosophy of what Mike Mularkey is selling. That’s good,” tight end Delanie Walker said.
Talk is cheap in NFL locker rooms in June, but Walker and some of his Titans teammates believe that the attitude and approach are markedly different now with lots of new additions to show for it.
“We all in this locker room are tired of losing. So I think guys are really buying into this system, trying to figure out what we can do to change that mindset, being able to finish,” Walker said. “It’s early now, but I can see it evolving to where guys are really going to start to understand the offense and making right decisions to put us in great situations.”
Teammate Dorial Green-Beckham said he notices a change in attitude right there on the practice field – that it is different from his rookie season a year ago.
“It’s been positive. It’s been a positive vibe. These coaches see a lot of talent on this team, if we can put it all together. We’ve got both sides of the ball just going at it every day and competing in practice. Having DeMarco and all those guys that just came in, that’s a good look for us,” DGB said. “That’s part of my attitude. Everybody is like, ‘Forget all this losing stuff. Let’s play football and let’s go out there and kick everybody’s (expletive). That’s what’s said all the time out there (in practice).”
Most turnarounds in the NFL don’t come instantaneously, but running back Dexter McCluster was part of a team in Kansas City that finished 2-14 one year and reached the playoffs the next year. He sees the Titans as heading in the right direction.
“When you have a year going 2-14, it’s a year you wish you could have back. You just have to stay the course,” McCluster said. “You just have to continue to grind and continue to believe. All it takes is that one hit, that one game to uproot a bad season to a good season. Once you start winning, it’s contagious. It’s an attitude.”
And it is an attitude that may be changing for the better in Tennessee, says McCluster.
“We’re definitely sick of the losing around here. I know the city is as well,” he said. “Right now, you get a sense that we’re gonna be a great team. We’re moving in the right direction. “
Mularkey and his coaching staff say they are putting in the time and he knows the pressure on him an his staff to turn things around in Tennessee.
“There’s pressure all the time. We put pressure on ourselves. That’s the nature of the beast. We’re doing everything we can to be successful. I can promise you that,” Mularkey said.
Part of Mularkey’s approach to changing things is is to be pro-active in installing the schemes throughout the off-season. In other words, preparation is a big part of it.
“We have most of the book at them. We’ve got a lot of it in,” Mularkey said. “You can introduce them in the early phases, but you can’t really see what it’s going to look like until you go against each other. I like where we’re at after 10 practices.”
McCluster said the Titans are already way ahead in terms of the playbook as another part of that change and attention to detail.
“We’re doing things in OTAs where most of the teams I’ve been a part of have been doing (later on).. We’re doing certain situations that you don’t see until training camp. So right now, I think we’re a step ahead, and if we can stay a step ahead, we’ll be in good shape,” he said.