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Sunday, February 23, 2014
Washington: Whiz will bring hot routes

By Paul Kuharsky

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- In 2005 and 2006 as a Pittsburgh Steelers receiver, Nate Washington played under offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt.

Washington's work under Whisenhunt helped him net a six-year, $26.8 million free-agent contract with the Titans in 2009.

As he heads into the final year of that deal, slated to make $4.8 million, he said the team has not contacted him about the contract. Presumably, a guy who was a good leader and productive player under Mike Munchak will be play out his contract under a new regime spearheaded by Whisenhunt.

Nate Washington and Antonio Cromartie (31)
Nate Washington caught 58 passes for 919 yards and three touchdowns last season.
“The amount of time I had under coach Whisenhunt as offensive coordinator taught me a lot,” Washington said Sunday during a panel interview at 104.5 The Zone's annual SportsFest. “The main thing was you have guys in this realm that come in a lot of time and they make a lot of noise with their mouth. He was one of those guys, he wasn't going to give you a lot of the antics, he wasn't going to give you a lot of the rah-rah.

“The speeches and the teaching that he (gave) us throughout the week, it helped us on Sundays. It went out there and gave us an expectation. I think that's going to be the best thing that he brings to us. You can be rah-rah all day, but at the end of the day he's going to make sure that our preparation gets us ready for Sunday.”

One thing that's sure to be different in the passing game is to have hot routes installed against blitzes.

Under Dowell Loggains, who took over as coordinator under Munchak late in the 2012 season and was coordinator in 2013, the team didn't ask pass targets to adjust based on blitzes. It simply put the responsibility on the quarterback to make a certain throw against a blitz.

Two former Titans, quarterback Neil O'Donnell and tight end Frank Wycheck expressed surprise and dismay over the lack of hot routes while watching the 2013 Titans.

Whisenhunt's offense will be more complicated for the receivers. Washington said he's sure they will be expected to convert the route called into something else based on a blitz that has the quarterback needing quicker options.

“I haven't had an offense here yet where you've had to run hot routes, literally hot routes,” Washington said. “We had coach (Mike Heimerdinger) here, may he rest in peace, one of his offensive thoughts toward the game was for a receiver to look hot. Certain situations may pop up and you may just be that guy that's going to get the ball.

“Coach Whisenhunt's offense, say somebody blitzes off your nose -- you have to run a totally different route. You have to know which route it converts off of that main route you had. The conversions off of a go-route aren't going to be the same conversions off of an out-route. It can become difficult. But once you pick it up -- and at least from my previous experience he's an awesome teacher with it -- the sky's the limit…

“This offense, to the untrained eye, can be very complicated. But for those of us who are students of the game, I think it's going to be all right.”

Washington's the most experienced Titans receiver. He'll play a role in helping younger guys like Kendall Wright and Justin Hunter sort through the new wrinkle.

It's wrinkle that could be a substantial help to Jake Locker, but it will require a quarterback and his receivers to see things precisely the same way to make sure they work.