INDIANAPOLIS -- Running back DeMarco Murray is exactly what the Indianapolis Colts need.

He’s coming off back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons.

Something the Colts don’t have.

Murray
He’s the perfect complement to quarterback Andrew Luck.

Also something the Colts don't have.

And come March 7 when teams can start negotiating with the agents of players, Colts general manager Ryan Grigson will be on the phone with Murray’s representatives.

Will the Colts break the bank for Murray, who led the NFL in rushing yards (1,845) and tied Seattle’s Marshawn Lynch for the league lead in touchdowns (13) last season?

Who knows, but Grigson has no problem going after what he wants, and the Colts have the money to get Murray ($44 million in salary-cap space).

ESPN.com Cowboys reporter Todd Archer recently wrote that Murray said money will not be a factory in his decision.

Let’s act like Murray really doesn’t care about the money. Grigson still has one of the premier selling points when giving his pitch to free agents: Andrew Luck.

All Luck has done since the Colts drafted him No. 1 overall in 2012 is win. He’s only lost back-to-back games in the same season once, and Indianapolis is coming off an appearance in the AFC Championship Game.

Grigson wants to take some of the pressure off Luck.

The Colts, who finished 22nd in the league in rushing last season, haven’t had a player rush for 100 yards in a game since the 2012 season.

The addition of Murray would make the Colts a difficult team to scheme for, because of his running ability and the skill players Luck can throw to on the outside in T.Y. Hilton, Dwayne Allen, Coby Fleener, and Donte Moncrief.

The Colts, despite their flaws in the running game, still finished third overall in total offense last season, averaging 406.6 yards a game.

The one thing Murray has going against him -- besides his three lost fumbles last season -- is that history says he’ll have a decline in production next season. It would be nice for the Colts to have a running back rush for almost 1,900 yards, but they don't need Murray to do that. Luck will carry his fair share of the offense. That's why a slight slippage in production from 1,845 yards rushing for Murray wouldn't be the end of the world.

.
A closer look at how the previous 41 players with 400-plus touches fared the next season:

.


When it comes to memories, I turn to Twitter. Today, for memories of Andre Johnson's 12-year tenure with the Texans.

Johnson has been given permission to seek a trade and has asked to be released if that does not work out. The Texans wanted him to accept a smaller role, but he believes he's still a starter.

When the longest tenured and best offensive player in franchise history moves on after more than a decade, emotions bubble. It's never an easy situation in part because of the memories.

I asked: What are your favorite Andre Johnson memories? Twitter answered:

video
HOUSTON -- He often, good naturedly, revived the digs.

You guys said I'd lost a step.

You guys didn't think I had it anymore.

You guys thought I was done.


Even after what may have been his final game with the Houston Texans, Andre Johnson said he didn't feel like that was the end for him on the only NFL franchise he's been part of.

On Monday we learned that Johnson has asked to be traded or cut, rather than accept a smaller role with the team. The Texans have given him permission to seek a trade and he said goodbye to Houston fans on Instagram. His departure will end an era and it comes from the same confidence that elicited those smiling barbs mentioned above.

During his rookie season, following an offseason practice just after he got drafted, Johnson watched the starters huddle. He watched them until a coach yelled to ask what the heck he was doing. His place, even in his first NFL practice, was with the starters. From there, in his 12 NFL seasons, Johnson became one of the best receivers in NFL history.

He is undoubtedly the best offensive player in Texans history.

Johnson's milestones were a near-weekly event. He has more 100-yard receiving games than any active player in the NFL, and ranks fourth in NFL history. He ranks ninth all-time in receptions, having passed Hines Ward and Randy Moss last season. He ranks 12th all-time in receiving yards, having passed Torry Holt last season.

[+] EnlargeAndre Johnson
Matthew Emmons/USA TODAY SportsThe Texans have given Andre Johnson permission to seek a trade and he said goodbye to Houston fans on Instagram.
He slogged through the Texans' never-ending quarterback search, rarely showing his frustration, but clearly at least a few times. For that he deserves credit. His holdout last season was not about money, but rather about his future under a new regime. It was a new regime with tremendous respect for Johnson, but not one blind to the passage of time.

Age catches up with everyone, even one so accomplished and talented as Johnson. He adjusted, but the shift was clear. Second-year receiver DeAndre Hopkins was passing him, passing him while watching the veteran for tips on how to succeed, and succeed for so long.

Johnson still believes he is a starter. The Texans are ready for a transition. That impasse led to this. A release could even serve Johnson well, allowing him to join a team with the kind of established quarterback situation he has never had in his career.

In the time I've covered him, Johnson has never been one who enjoys conducting interviews. He accepts the responsibility, and follows through professionally, if not happily. But in that final postgame news conference of 2014, there was a lightness to Johnson's demeanor.

He chuckled and laughed at various questions. He shared that a teammate had wondered if this would be his last game with the Texans, and offered that he expected to return.

"When I woke up this morning, that was the first thing that I said," Johnson said. "I said, 'I’m going to go out here and enjoy every moment that I’m out here on this field,' and that’s what I did. I didn’t worry about anything."

In that game, Johnson caught 10 passes for 134 yards and a touchdown.

"Every year you get older, you guys say I lose it," Johnson said. "It is what it is. It’s part of the game. But like I said, I can still play the game. I know that. Whatever is meant to happen will happen and I’ll cross that bridge when I get there."

He's approaching that bridge now and on the other side of it is a future so many players learn to accept.
video
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- There was one surprise in the last dash to use the franchise or transition tags before 4 p.m. ET Monday, and it’s one that’s potentially very good for the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The New England Patriots tagged kicker Stephen Gostkowski, which means free safety Devin McCourty will become a free agent unless the sides work out a new contract between now and 4 p.m. ET March 10. If that doesn’t happen and McCourty does hit the open market, he should be the Jaguars’ No. 1 priority.

McCourty
There are other big-name players that will be available -- defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, tight end Julius Thomas, receiver Randall Cobb, and right tackle Bryan Bulaga could top the list -- and the Jaguars likely will pursue some of them. However, the Jaguars can find other, admittedly somewhat lower-caliber options at those positions, either through free agency or the draft.

That’s not the case at free safety. It’s not a particularly good crop in free agency, and the draft pool isn’t considered very good, either. So if the Jaguars are going to fix the biggest issue on defense in 2015 they must go after McCourty.

For Gus Bradley’s defense to perform at its best it must have a physical strong safety who can play near the line of scrimmage and a free safety with the range and athleticism to cover the width of the entire field. Bradley likes to play single high safety a lot, and right now he doesn’t have one that can do that.

Josh Evans, a sixth-round pick in 2013, has started 24 games at the spot but has no interceptions, no forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, and just two pass breakups. The 6-foot, 205-pounder also has had issues with tackling, though he improved significantly in that area as the 2014 season progressed and was the Jaguars' third-leading tackler (90) in his second season.

McCourty is a perfect fit. He’s big enough (5-foot-10, 195 pounds), fast enough (he’s a converted cornerback), and smart enough to complete what is turning out to be, at worst, a very solid secondary. It would be a young secondary, too. McCourty is 27, which would make him tied for the oldest among players in the secondary that are under contract for 2015.

McCourty also has the trait that has been missing from the Jaguars’ secondary for a long time: he makes plays. He has 17 interceptions, eight forced fumbles, and 58 pass breakups in his first five seasons, which averages out to 3.4 interceptions, 1.6 forced fumbles, and 11.6 pass breakups per season. The Jaguars’ entire group of defensive backs had three interceptions, four forced fumbles, and 26 pass breakups in 2014.

McCourty is unquestionably the top free safety on the market. He’s certainly not going to command Suh money, but the Jaguars might have to spend the kind of money that San Diego did on Eric Weddle (five years, $40 million) and Seattle did on Earl Thomas (four years, $40 million).

They should do it without hesitation.
When last we checked in on the Houston Texans' quarterback situation, Ryan Mallett was saying he'd love to be back with the team, a week after head coach Bill O'Brien and general manager Rick Smith said at the combine they hoped to re-sign Mallett.

Now comes the part of this that goes beyond happy and hopeful declarations.

Hoyer
Mallett
As it stands now, Mallett remains headed for free agency, which officially begins March 10. He'll have a better chance to see his market value a few days before that. It's possible that changes things with the Texans, but it's starting to look unlikely things get wrapped up before then.

There's been a lot of talk about Brian Hoyer and the Texans. With the Cleveland Browns signing Josh McCown last week, Hoyer will hit the free-agent market next week, too. He spent three seasons with the New England Patriots, all of them while O'Brien was on the staff. His familiarity with O'Brien would make this an attractive landing spot from Hoyer's perspective.

Would he be a better fit for the Texans than Mallett or Ryan Fitzpatrick, who started most of last season for Houston and still has one year left on his contract?

That's hard to say. Fitzpatrick had a marginally better total QBR than Hoyer did last season, by about 12 points. Fitzpatrick's passer rating was significantly better, while Hoyer's 76.5 passer rating ranked 31st in the league. Part of that is likely the quality of the players around each quarterback. Total QBR accounts for situations, so, for example, the quarterback doesn't get credit for the 80 yards run after catch. An interception that results in no points the other way is less costly than one that results in a touchdown.

As for Mallett, he has arm strength the former two don't have, that much we know. He won the battle of the former Brady backups when the Texans played the Browns in Cleveland. Hoyer's QBR in that game was 24 to Mallett's 82, and the Texans won 23-7. Mallett played the next game with a torn right pectoral muscle, so we really only have a one-game gauge on his ability. That isn't enough to draw conclusions.

What the Texans got out of the quarterback position last season isn't what they want.

For now, the status quo remains for the Texans' quarterback situation.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Ndamukong Suh was recently in Nashville.

His strength coach from Nebraska is now at Vanderbilt, and I was told Suh plans on spending even more time this offseason with James Dobson.

Suh
Detroit Lions defensive line coach Jim Washburn also still has a home in Nashville, where he started his NFL coaching career. Suh saw Washburn during the visit.

His Nashville trip, however, had nothing to do with the Tennessee Titans. Any interaction with the city's NFL entry would have been tampering.

With the Lions deciding not to place the franchise tag on Suh, he's now in line to become a free agent March 10. As of March 7, teams can begin to negotiate with agents for players in advance of their free agency.

The Titans are desperate for difference-makers.

Suh is a major difference-maker, perhaps second only to J.J. Watt among NFL defenders. End, tackle, whatever. They would shape their front to suit him. He would make everyone better. He would give a faceless team a jolt.

Suh is going to get a ridiculous contract. Watt got a six-year, $100 million deal in 2014, and it came with $51.8 million guaranteed.

Suh has a long history of player-safety issues on the field, which are well outlined by ESPN.com's Michael Rothstein.

Is that stuff worth the trade-off? If you believe he's going to play hard for you and want to prove he's worth a massive contract, the Titans have to say yes to that.

While I generally fear huge deals for veterans, as we've seen so many blow up, it's hard to look at Suh and the Titans and say anything other than this: Tennessee should aggressively pursue him.

And I think they will.
INDIANAPOLIS -- The overall record for Indianapolis Colts general manager Ryan Grigson in his first three seasons can't be denied.

Three straight 11-win seasons. Three straight playoff appearances. A step further in the playoffs in each of those seasons, including reaching the AFC Championship Game last season.

The same can’t be said about Grigson’s free-agent signing record. He hasn't been as successful in that area.

[+] EnlargeRyan Grigson
Kirby Lee/USA TODAY SportsGeneral manager Ryan Grigson has had several misses when adding free agents.
There will be some misses when it comes to free agency. That's the nature of the business.

Grigson has a chance to improve his success rate when free agency opens March 10. The Colts will have about $40 million in salary-cap space to try to find a running back, pass-rusher, two safeties, defensive linemen and a receiver.

Here’s a look at the free-agent moves Grigson made in his first three offseasons:

2014

DL Art Jones, WR Hakeem Nicks, S Colt Anderson, S Mike Adams

Note: Adams, whom the Colts didn’t sign until the middle of June, was the best player of this group last season. He was the Colts’ second-best defensive player behind cornerback Vontae Davis, tying for the NFL lead in takeaways with seven. He also made his first Pro Bowl. The Colts were better at stopping the run when Jones was on the field, but a high ankle sprain caused him to miss seven games. Nicks never found his role as the Colts' No. 3 receiver, which led to the worst season of his six-year career.

2013

OT Gosder Cherilus, DT Aubrayo Franklin, DT Ricky Jean Francois, S LaRon Landry, LB Lawrence Sidbury, G Donald Thomas, CB Greg Toler, LB Erik Walden

Note: Injuries and disappointing play were the themes of the 2013 free-agent class. Francois and Landry were both released in the past three weeks. Landry was the bigger disappointment. The Colts gave him a four-year, $24 million contract hoping he would be an enforcer at safety. Landry didn’t come close to those expectations. He was suspended for four games for using performance-enhancing drugs last season, and it took until the end of the season for him to get his starting job back. Thomas has played only two games in his two seasons with the team because of injuries. Cherilus spent the majority of last season trying to play through injuries, which ended up impacting his production. Toler, when healthy, gives the Colts a nice duo at cornerback with Davis. Toler played in 15 games last season after playing in only nine during his first season with the team. Walden finished second on the team in sacks with 6.0 last season.

2012

WR Donnie Avery, OL Mike McGlynn, DT Brandon McKinney, DL Cory Redding, C Samson Satele, S Tom Zbikowski.

Note: Satele made it only two seasons as quarterback Andrew Luck's center. Avery, who spent just one season with Indianapolis, was third on the Colts in receiving yards (781) and receptions (60) in 2012. Redding, who is considering retirement, started all 16 games and finished with 3.5 sacks last season. He was also one of the Colts’ locker room leaders.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- As if the list of pending free agents wasn't enough, we’re starting to see other players who might be of interest coming onto the market.

ESPN’s Adam Caplan recently gave us a rundown of his most likely salary-cap cuts. One of them, running back Reggie Bush, has already been released.

Hali
Cole
Jones
A. Jones
Collins
Four names on Caplan's list strike me as guys the Titans could be interested in: Kansas City outside linebacker Tamba Hali, Philadelphia outside linebacker Trent Cole, Indianapolis defensive lineman Arthur Jones and Buccaneers tackle Anthony Collins.

The Titans showed interest in Jones a year ago before he signed with the Colts.

I asked ESPN resident scout Matt Williamson about those four and how each could fit in Tennessee.

“All make sense and are scheme-fits,” he said. “Hali and Cole are similar and both have played very well in a 3-4 as an OLB. Dick LeBeau also has a history of having shorter, leverage-type OLBs, which suits both, but especially Cole. Although Cole’s best days were as a 4-3 end. Still, both bring something off the edge and are far from done.

“I like Jones as well. Tough guy that would be a defensive end for Tennessee, but can be moved around the line a bit. He’s a run-stuffer, but can also push the pocket. I would think LeBeau would be quite fond of him.”

“Collins was a great third tackle for the Bengals and did really well when he got in as a starter due to injuries, but like the rest of Tampa Bay’s offensive line last year, he really struggled as an every-week starting left tackle. He can play either side but is a little frightening. Guess it depends on cost with him. I would be afraid to overpay.”

There is a going to be a huge push to add edge rushers. Top players in free agency, such as the Chiefs' Justin Houston, are bound to get tagged and not make it to market.

The more out there, the better, of course.
video

ESPN NFL draft expert Todd McShay posted his third mock draftInsider on Thursday. And for the second time in three mocks, McShay has the Colts selecting LSU offensive lineman La’el Collins with the No. 29 overall pick.

The Colts can go a number of different ways with their pick because they have an assortment of needs on their roster -- from offensive line to safety to pass-rusher to defensive line to running back.

Philadelphia, according to McShay, will select Alabama's Landon Collins, the best safety in the draft, at No. 20. Georgia running back Todd Gurley is still on McShay’s board when the Colts select, but he has them passing on him. That’s not necessarily a bad thing because Gurley is working his way back from a torn ACL, which happened last November. The Colts also like the running back depth in this draft.

Collins can play guard or tackle. Both of those positions are areas of concern for the Colts.

“Lots of teams have told me I am their favorite offensive lineman,” Collins said at the combine last week. “Lots of teams told me they asked me if I could slide to the right side and then in two years maybe come over the left. Could I come in right now and play left? I feel very confident in what I do, so for me it wouldn’t be a problem.”
INDIANAPOLIS -- The re-signing of veteran quarterback Matt Hasselbeck by the Indianapolis Colts doesn’t seem like a big deal on the surface.

Hasselbeck
Hasselbeck will be 40 years old in September and it’s not like the Colts have a quarterback controversy because they’re set at that position with Andrew Luck.

It’s the little things Hasselbeck does that mean a lot to Luck and the Colts.

Hasselbeck spent the past two seasons joining coach Chuck Pagano, offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton and quarterbacks coach Clyde Christensen as being an extra set of eyes for Luck.

Hasselbeck has seen a lot during his 16-year career that includes 34,948 yards passing, 203 touchdowns, 148 interceptions, three Pro Bowls and a Super Bowl appearance.

“I lean on him every week,” Luck said during the playoffs. “He is a huge part of helping me prepare, helping this offense prepare. He’s a great sounding board for any player on our offense. He has the answer to just about every question. If he doesn’t, he knows where to find it. He’s incredibly helpful, and in sort of uncharted territory for some of the guys, he definitely helps with some of the things outside of the game that you may not anticipate or expect.”
video
ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper went with cornerback Trae Waynes (the fastest defensive back at the combine) and offensive tackle Ereck Flowers (who led all offensive linemen with 37 bench press reps) as the Houston Texans' picks in his mock drafts. His counterpart Todd McShay has stayed consistent in both of his postseason mock draft, giving the Texans Stanford offensive tackle Andrus Peat both times.

Peat is a 6-foot-6, 313-pound junior who has long arms, measured at 34 3/8 inches.

McShay notes Peat's arm length as a positive, and I know that's an area that could use improvement on the Texans' offensive line. Peat played left tackle in college, but McShay projects him here under the assumption that the Texans would be comfortable moving him to left tackle to replace Derek Newton.

I've maintained that I see bigger needs for the Texans than right tackle. I think the Texans will re-sign Newton and keep their offensive tackles intact. Their free agency doings will have a significant impact on the way they handle their draft, because it will dictate what their needs are. With quarterback Ryan Mallett, cornerback Kareem Jackson, outside linebacker Brooks Reed and safety Kendrick Lewis all unsigned, there are several potential holes for the Texans to fill.
video
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- In draft analysis circles, it’s difficult to find a less-than-stellar review of USC defensive lineman Leonard Williams.

But Greg Cosell, who studies players for NFL Films, has watched four game of Williams and isn’t overwhelmed.

"I’m going to be in the minority here, and I am sure there are a lot of people who think I am a moron, and it wouldn’t be the first time, but I’m not blown away by Leonard Williams," Cosell said in his weekly interview with my Nashville radio show, The Midday 180 on 104.5 The Zone.

"I think he tends to play high, I think he tends to show his chest, which is a really bad thing for a defensive lineman. I wouldn’t say he’s a natural pass-rusher. I didn’t think he played real well sort of in space. I thought there were too many snaps in which he was moved by double teams. I think that he’s flash player. Every once in a while you see a certain play and you go, 'Wow, that’s pretty good.' But I don’t see him as a purely explosive player the way you’d think of let’s say a Gerald McCoy coming out of Oklahoma or a Sheldon Richardson coming out of Missouri.

"Again, I’m not going to sit here and tell you he’s a bad player. But people are talking about him now as if he’s a Hall of Fame player. I’ve watched four games now, and some people would say that’s plenty, and I’ll probably watch even more because I know I’m in the minority and I want to make sure I’m not missing anything -- but that’s what I see on film."

If the Tennessee Titans have a similar feeling, I could see them concluding their bigger need isn’t on the line, but at outside linebacker, and looking to drop in the first round and land Dante Fowler Jr., Randy Gregory, Shane Ray, or Vic Beasley.

Cosell said Gregory is a better athlete, more explosive and more flexible, but not as strong as last year’s No. 1 pick, Jadeveon Clowney. Colleague Tania Ganguli reflected on that from a Texans’ perspective.

Cosell is also very high on Fowler, who he said could be a Clay Matthews or Justin Houston.

Listen to the whole Cosell interview here.

You can also check on Williams discussing his versatility and his relationship with the Titans' best defensive player, end Jurrell Casey.
Gregory
A favorite activity during NFL draft time is comparing this year's available players to those in years past. Termed a once-in-a-decade type talent, Houston Texans outside linebacker Jadeveon Clowney certainly drew comparisons to some of the NFL's great pass-rushers as he prepared to become the first overall pick last year.

So we'll take notice when, just a year later, Greg Cosell of NFL Films offers his thoughts on why he thinks there's an even better athlete in this year's draft. That would be Nebraska defensive end Randy Gregory.

"Well he's a better athlete than Clowney," Cosell said when prompted by our friend Paul Kuharsky on Midday 180, a Nashville radio station. "He's more flexible. He's more explosive in his movement. Clearly not as strong. Clowney could get inside and push back. Clowney did not have the loose hips that this guy does. Gregory is a much more explosive mover, a much looser athlete."

The issue of the looseness of Clowney's hips caught my attention. Very shortly after signing his rookie contract with the Texans, Clowney had a sports hernia surgery that I've heard might have been an issue for a while before that. It's definitely an injury that could impact a player's flexibility and hip movements. Assuming Cosell's opinion was formed off college tape, which I think it was, that could explain some of what he saw.

Cosell went on to describe the difference in the two players' styles.

"It's like watching running backs," he said. "You know immediately when you watch running backs, the guys when they hit the point of attack are shifty and elusive versus the guys that are a little stiff and can't do that. Gregory's kind of shifty and elusive in his movement. He's a quick-twitch, explosive guy laterally. Clowney was more straight-line power."

You can listen to the full interview here. The extended portion about Clowney begins at the 12:28 mark. Earlier in the interview he talks about other pass-rushers, raving in particular about Florida's Dante Fowler Jr.
Several Houston Texans players and head coach Bill O'Brien attended an event Wednesday at Texas Children's Hospital, visiting with children as the team announced a seven-year partnership for the hospital to become the team's official hospital.

Several media members were invited to the event, and from their tweets, we learned a few things. Let's get to them, in list form, with the help of those reporters' tweets.

My take: This is the best Texans news anyone will get all year. David Quessenberry was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins T lymphoblastic lymphoma last summer, spent the summer and fall undergoing aggressive treatments (read more about his journey here). Radiation followed chemotherapy and that process is now finished. In the aforementioned link, you'll read that this isn't the end of the road, but it's a very important and positive milestone for Quessenberry. Great news.

My take: Ryan Mallett said in December that he wants to be back with the Texans, and he repeated that Wednesday. He also provided this update on his pectoral muscle: He's started tossing the ball around, but is taking his recovery day to day. Mallett will hit free agency on March 10 if the Texans don't reach a deal with him before then. I'm betting it will happen.

My take: Chris Myers' future is an interesting one. He acknowledged to reporters that the business side of football comes into play. Simone Eli of KPRC tweeted that Myers has been working out with the team. Myers still has one year left on a contract he signed in 2012, and his salary-cap figure for that year is $8 million, which has spurred some of the discussion about his future.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Time and time again, under a mostly invisible owner, Don MacLachlan was the guy facing fire from Tennessee Titans fans for anything and everything that went wrong -- whether it was his issue or not.

As recently as Sunday, the Titans executive vice president of administration and facilities had a former player in his face belittling him for issues the alumni have with the team. That’s largely a problem or perceived problem created by coach Ken Whisenhunt, but MacLachlan was on the front line at a local radio station event.

He took what was dished out while staying calm and reasoned.

For a franchise that has become moribund in many ways, he brought constant energy and enthusiasm.

[+] EnlargeDon MacLachlan
AP Photo/Mark HumphreyTitans executive vice president Don MacLachlan, right, walks with Ken Whisenhunt to Whisehunt's introductory news conference.
But the Titans announced Tuesday that he had resigned.

If McLachlan did resign, I suspect it was only because he was going to be fired. That the Titans had immediate word of some of the replacement plans indicate that this was in the works for at least a while.

So in exchange for being an administrative face of the franchise while the head of the team’s ownership group, the inexperienced and perhaps overmatched Tommy Smith, got to stay way in the background, MacLachlan got shoved out.

Both Smith and MacLachlan offered the standard press release line offering thanks.

I'm not impartial. I've known MacLachlan since 1996 and was a fan of the way he carried himself and the constant spark he brought. I like him professionally and personally.

The team’s bad year certainly extended beyond its 2-14 record. Following pledges from Smith that game-day operations would be enhanced, there was at least one game where there was a major backup at the gate that delayed fans from getting into LP Field. There were steady complaints about the new concessionaire, Aramark.

Maybe both sides ultimately needed a change.

But the move begs for Smith to step out from behind the guy who did most of his public PR and to explain what’s happened and the plan going forward.

“While we are sad to see Don go, we know there also is a great deal of work ahead of us to improve our organization, Smith said in a statement. “Over the last year, one of my primary objectives was to monitor how things have been operating within the team. This offseason, we have decided to make changes in a number of areas from both a personnel standpoint and a structural standpoint. As of today, we have hired or promoted some of these people already; and for some other positions, we are in the interview process. This is not an easy process, but these changes will reflect a shift in our approach and hopefully will result in making our fans proud.”

What’s the shift in approach? Could he be more vague?

MacLachlan’s departure came with an announcement of one in-house promotion and one outside hire with previous ties to the organization. Senior director of ticketing Marty Collins and director of ticket operations Tim Zenner were recently fired, the team confirmed.

Stuart Spears, who has been with the organization for a total of 28 years and has served most recently as vice president of business operations and sales, will become the team’s chief revenue officer. I know Whisenhunt quickly became very fond of Spears.

Spears is a hard-working guy who’s popular in the building and might be fantastic in his new role. But as Smith looks for a shift in approach, he’s promoting someone who’s been part of the franchise's approach since 1987.

Bob Flynn, who has most recently served as senior director of corporate partnerships for the NHL’s Nashville Predators, will become the Titans’ head of facilities and game day operations. Flynn previously was an Arena Football League general manager, including for four years with the Nashville Kats. The Kats were controlled by the Titans while Flynn was employed.

More news of new people and new roles is surely to come.

SPONSORED HEADLINES