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Tennessee Titans are closer to success than many believe

(Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire)

It’s rather obvious that the Tennessee Titans haven’t won all that much over the past two seasons.

And that reality has already cost Ken Whisenhunt his job.

Next on the chopping block could be general manager Ruston Webster, the architect of the roster that has dropped 23 of 28 games since the 2014 season began.

“We know (the Titans) already made a coaching change early on with removing Ken Whisenhunt,” NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport said Sunday morning on NFL Network. “Now it’s possible they clean house completely. When I talked to a high-ranking Titan’s source about this, the logic was simple: ‘We won five games the last two years, everyone is at risk. We have to evaluate everything.'”

Despite that ominous statement, the Titans as a whole don’t come across as the typical gloom-and-doom outfit like say Cleveland, which is set for its umpteenth reboot after their ’15 campaign ends.

The positivity in Nashville really stems from just one man, however… rookie quarterback Marcus Mariota.

In a league defined by signal callers, many believe the Titans already have their guy and as soon as the hiccups end, the car will shift from neutral to drive for a fairly significant run as one of the NFL’s best teams.

One can debate that end game and just how good Mariota really is, as the former Heisman Trophy winner would hardly be the first can’t-miss guy who ended up as a never was. However, what shouldn’t be contested is the fact that most personnel people around this league who don’t currently have the answer at the game’s most important position on their particular rosters would love a chance to move forward with the former University of Oregon star.

(Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire)

(Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire)

“You need a quarterback to win consistently in the league,” one NFL personnel executive told FanRagSports.com, “and that’s why Tennessee a lot closer than you might think.”

Webster’s own resume, of course, has Mariota on the top line. If the raw prospect with the high ceiling does indeed develop into a superstar in the ensuing years, Webster will be the one who deserves the credit for standing pat back in April when Chip Kelly and Philadelphia were trying to throw the kitchen sink at the Titans in order to acquire Mariota.

That said, we live in a different generation where five-year plans are a thing of the past.

Whisenhunt was a dead-man walking the minute the Titans went with Mariota because you can’t serve two masters in the NFL, in this case winning games and developing the inexperienced, read-option QB for the rigors of the NFL. Furthermore, interim coach Mike Mularkey can’t be sold as anything more than a placeholder because of his previous failed stints in Buffalo and Jacksonville.

Webster had a little more wiggle room than Whisenhunt but not much because he now stands in the way of luring a potential high-profile coach, who might buy into Mariota’s ceiling as a player.

Most names who fit that description have the cachet to either demand personnel control or put in place a guy in the GM chair who can implement the would-be coach’s vision.

If Webster had that kind of guy in his back pocket, he would have already been stationed in Nashville.

Those doing the remedial math believe a Kelly and Mariota reunion in Music City would be a perfect match, but that Hollywood-like scenario has a lot of moving parts, first and foremost being the Eagles would have to falter in the final month of the season and fail to win the dismal NFC East.

If that domino falls and the gripes of various players gain steam in Philadelphia, Jeffrey Lurie likely wouldn’t be adverse to giving his coach/GM the golden parachute he may desire, but the Eagles owner would also want significant compensation for making that happen.

It’s very hard to imagine Tennessee parting with its 2016 first-round pick for a coach, even one that would increase the odds of Mariota’s ultimate success.

So while the coming regime change in Tennessee might not be quite as sexy as people might hope, it will be very significant.

— John McMullen is a national football columnist for FanRagSports.com and TodaysPigskin.com. You can reach him at jmcmullen@phanaticmag.com or on Twitter @jfmcmullen — Also catch John this season on ESPN Southwest Florida every Monday at 3 PM ET; on ESPN Lexington every Thursday at 6:05 ET, and live every Tuesday from 2 to 6 PM ET at the Golden Nugget Casino in Atlantic City for the NFL Wraparound on ESPN South Jersey.

Also check @JFMcMullen on Twitter for John’s upcoming appearances on YAHOO! Sports Radio, FOX Sports Radio, YAHOO! Sports Radio Indiana, Omaha’s The Zone, Mobile’s WNSP, Baltimore’s 105.7 The Fan, 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston, 92.9 The Game in Atlanta, The Score 1260 in Syracuse, Sirius’ Mad Dog Sports Radio, ESPN 1530 in Cincinnati, TSN 1290 in Winnipeg, TSN 690 in Montreal and WNSR in Nashville.



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