NASHVILLE – Members of the Titans secondary have seen plenty of changes around them this offseason.
Not only did defensive coordinator Dean Pees retire, secondary coach Kerry Coombs left the Titans to take over as defensive coordinator at Ohio State.
Veteran cornerback Logan Ryan is also moving on, and back-up LeShaun Sims joined the Bengals.
During a Zoom conference call on Friday, safety Kenny Vaccaro and cornerback Adoree Jackson acknowledged change is a part of the league while admitting their former teammates and coaches will be missed. Ryan's departure is still fresh on their minds.
"When I came in, (Logan) is one of the guys I leaned on a lot to help me out," Jackson said. "I told him I appreciate him more than he knows. He was there for me, the big brother that you need. I was sad. But in the world of football, every time we get a team, we understand it is not going to be the same next year."
The players are excited about the new arrivals.
On the coaching staff, the Titans hired former Texans assistant Anthony Midget to take over as secondary coach.
In free agency, the Titans signed veteran cornerback Johnathan Joseph, formerly of the Texans and Bengals. In the NFL Draft, the team selected former LSU cornerback Kristian Fulton in the second round before picking Marshall defensive back Chris Jackson in the seventh round.
"It hurts losing (Logan) because he is a friend," Vaccaro said. "But at the same time, business is business. This is how the league works. We were fortunate to get Kristian drafted this year and I am excited about it. Right now, he is doing a great job, he is attentive, he is smart, and he is doing everything that is asked of him."
Jackson is excited about the new additions as well.
"From the jump, J-Joe, I like him a lot," Jackson said of Joseph, a 14-year veteran who ranks fourth among active NFL players for career interceptions (31) and leads all active NFL cornerbacks in career tackles (750). "I remember watching him and seeing him play when he was down in Houston. I always liked his game, respected his game. As soon as we signed him I … reached out to him. I am excited to learn and play with him and be able to develop under what he knows and his knowledge because he has played in a similar defense and done great things.
"Kristian, he's a smart player. I've known him since he was at LSU and chopped it up with him before, so I am exited to see what he'll do and how he can help us. He's a great player and a great talent. And Chris Jackson, I just realized he has a track background, so he's another guy I am excited to work with. Everybody is going to be able to help us as a team collectively to be able to get the goal that we want and that is to go to the Super Bowl."
Both Vaccaro and Jackson said they've been already been impressed with Midget, who has 14 years of coaching experience, including six seasons (2014-19) with the Texans.
Prior to joining the Titans, Midget served the past two seasons as the Texans secondary coach. In 2018, the Texans finished ninth in the NFL in interceptions with 15 and fourth in points allowed (19.8). Midget joined the Texans in 2014, as the assistant secondary coach, and spent four seasons in that role before being promoted to secondary coach.
Neither player provided any insight as to who might call plays for the Titans on defense this fall, since head coach Mike Vrabel hasn't yet named a defensive coordinator.
"I honestly don't know who is going to call the plays," Vaccaro said. "I just know Vrabes is going to put us in a position to play fast and aggressive. Whoever is going to call plays is going to put us in a position to make plays, and that is all I am worried about."
Vaccaro, like Jackson, said Joseph will provide valuable veteran leadership as well.
In addition to the offseason moves previously mentioned, the Titans re-signed defensive backs Tye Smith and Chris Milton while cornerback Tramaine Brock, who ended the season with the team, remains a free agent. The Titans also added former Packers defensive back Ibraheim Campbell earlier this month.
"Any time you have that much experience in the league, you have a Master's Degree – he is trying to get his Doctorate, his PhD," Vaccaro said of Joseph, a first-round pick of the 2006 NFL Draft. "He's a great guy to learn from, and he's had a lot of success in this league. I've watched him for years and he is one of my favorite corners since he's been in the league. I love the way he plays and I am excited to have him."
Titans Online looks back at safety Kenny Vaccaro's 2019 season (Photos: Donald Page)
Titans Online looks back at CB Adoree' Jackson's 2019 season (Photos: Donald Page)