NASHVILLE – NFL analyst Solomon Wilcots believes the future remains bright for the Tennessee Titans.
And, the plan to compete for a title in 2022, according to Wilcots, hinges on positions around the quarterback.
"Don't worry about getting Ryan Tannehill better," said Wilcots, a former NFL safety who is now an analyst for SIRIUSXM NFL Radio. "Worry about getting better around Ryan Tannehill.
"Now, did (Tannehill) try and do too much in the playoff (loss) to the Bengals? Absolutely. And that is what you cannot do. Some quarterbacks you have to rein 'em in. You don't want them to be the lead dog, you want them to be the guy that can manage the offense because the strength is going to come in all the components around the quarterback position. Everybody doesn't have a Tom Brady, OK? Everybody doesn't have a Patrick Mahomes. And if you don't have that guy, don't try and convince yourself that he is that guy."
The Titans, who won the AFC South title for the second year in a row in 2021, saw their season come to an end in a playoff loss to the Bengals. It ended a season that saw the Titans win 12 games during the regular season.
The Bengals, meanwhile, made it all the way to the Super Bowl before losing on Sunday to the Rams.
Wilcots, who played in 92 games over six NFL seasons with the Bengals (1987-90), Vikings (1991) and Steelers (1992), said during an interview on Super Bowl LVI Radio Row the Titans are in a good place with General Manager Jon Robinson and Head Coach Mike Vrabel.
And, Wilcots likes their plan.
"I love what Jon Robinson is doing," Wilcots said. "He and Mike Vrabel seem to be sharing a brain as to what kind of team they want. They are unapologetic for being a team that's a run-first offense, yet they can average 30 points a game, and they've done that over the last two or three years. Point production (has been good) while being a No.1-ranked rushing offense, or near the top when it comes to running the football, and that is OK – you are still going to get play-action shots down the field. You are still going to have great offensive production.
"But nobody knows this better than Mike Vrabel. It's a collective process – special teams, offense, defense. No team, particularly a Mike Vrabel team, is going to say: 'I'm going to win because my quarterback is better than yours.' He is not even wired to play football that way. That is a fan's way of building a team. That's a fan's way of saying, 'This is how I want to play.' Real football people, and Mike Vrabel is real football people, he is not trying to build that kind of team. So, I think we should allow him to continue doing what he is doing, because he is going to continue to win."
Wilcots believes it's important for the Titans to continue to stay strong up front on both sides of the football, while getting better around running back Derrick Henry, receiver A.J. Brown, and Tannehill.
The NFL Combine kicks off in less than two weeks as NFL Draft preparation cranks up. Free agency begins the middle of March.
"I think the Titans can keep hopes high, because they have a great combination of offensive and defensive line play," Wilcots said. "And as long as you have great offensive and defensive line play, you are going to win a lot of games in the National Football League. Clearly keeping the King, Derrick Henry, healthy is key. But now I think they have a phenomenal back-up, and a nice rotation, with D'Onta Foreman. There's no doubt this team will still be able to run the ball.
"Does Tannehill have to get better? Yes. Do they have to get better around Ryan Tannehill at the skill positions? Look at the teams in the Super Bowl – Cincinnati Bengals and the L.A. Rams. They don't have just one great receiver – it's nice to have two, and then sometimes three. And then a couple of tight ends to rotate in there. You are going to need to be able to withstand injuries and still maintain high levels of production."