Back at the scouting combine in Indianapolis, Titans general manager Mike Reinfeldt gave Jim Wyatt the first nugget about the sort of small personnel trait changes Mike Munchak and his staff may want to see.
They'd look to get sturdier at defensive end, where they wouldn't line their guys up so wide so often.
Munchak said this afternoon that the positional alteration at defensive end won’t be a constant. The team played its ends super wide to the point where “it was almost all we did,” he said. Now they won’t be in wide nine-technique so often, playing closer to, or head up on, the offensive tackle more.
“Back when we went to the Super Bowl when [defensive coordinator] Jerry Gray was here last time, Jevon Kearse played a lot of those seven-techniques and six-techniques and nine-techniques and was successful from all those positions," Munchak said. "We’ll still be in nine-techniques and taking advantage of that in certain down and distances, but I think there will be a little bit more variation than we’ve had.”
Also on the agenda: More size at both defensive tackle, where the focus had become more and more on pass rushing, and at linebacker.
On offense, Munchak turned the conversation to the same place the ball’s going to go: Chris Johnson.
“We have to keep looking at ways to get him the ball,” Munchak said.
Under Jeff Fisher and his offensive coordinator, Mike Heimerdinger, the Titans tended to shy away from screens. The number of moving parts involved, they said, didn’t make the trade off worth it for how much work has to go into being a good screen team.
And while they had screen packages in most game plans, we saw them less and less, to the point of frustration. The primary quarterback, Vince Young, also didn’t throw screens well.
Young’s successor will have the chance to do so.
“Any way we can get [Johnson] the ball, it doesn’t have to be handed to him,” Munchak said. “Hand it to him, pitch it to him, throw it to him -- I think we’ve done a good job of that. He’s made a big impact on the running and passing games. Defenses do a great job of trying to take those passes away.
“We work screens quite a bit; it’s just a matter of getting them called in games. Last year, we were one of the worst teams in time of possession. We have to find ways to stay out there, which allows us to run more plays. And I think you’ll see more plays to Chris where if you need a screen, all it is is a run. You can run those on first down, it doesn’t have to be third down. You can run those on any down. They are something that just gets him going around the edges.”