Jerry Gray can't win

August, 2, 2013
8/02/13
12:29
PM ET
Defensive coordinator Jerry Gray is in a tough spot.

Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean nails it in this piece: If the Tennessee Titans' defense gets better the credit is bound to go to the newcomer, senior defensive assistant Gregg Williams.
If the Titans defense makes great strides a season after setting the franchise record for most points allowed, the popular conclusion will be that defensive assistant Gregg Williams righted the ship and saved the day.

If the Titans defense struggles, as it did last year in giving up the most points in the NFL, the blame will be aimed at Gray.

Gray says the right things about not caring where the credit lands, and that’s all he can do.

If the Titans are better to the degree they expect, it will be easier for him to not care, because in-house his contribution will be apparent.

But if it goes the other way, it could be ugly if he listens to talk radio or reads columnists.

With Williams on the coaching roster, there are a lot of questions about who will call the defense on Sundays. The Titans have a practice at LP Field on Saturday, and head coach Mike Munchak will have his coaches in the spots he’s planning for them to be in for games.

At the start, that will mean Williams on the sideline and Gray in the coaching box.

That allows for Williams to be more hands-on and look players in the eye. But the bird’s eye view will belong to Gray, who will have a better picture of the offense the Titans are trying to stop.

Munchak says Gray was handcuffed last year. He couldn’t do the things he wanted to because the team was lacking personnel.

That points to another big question, of course: Why?

But in evaluating how to fix it, the Titans brought in much more than Williams. Among the new players are defensive tackle Sammie Hill, defensive end Ropati Pitoitua, safeties Bernard Pollard and George Wilson, linebacker Moise Fokou and cornerback Blidi Wreh-Wilson.

Williams adds another veteran set of coaching eyes, and, his bounty suspension aside, he has a history of connecting with players and positively influencing their performances.

Gray had a hand in all those additions.

If the defense makes a jump, Gray’s going to deserve some credit. The pledge here is to not aim all of it at Williams.

Paul Kuharsky | email

ESPN Tennessee Titans reporter

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