Zach Brown and the Titans linebackers are ready to put a frustrating 2013 behind them.
Collectively, they had six sacks, three interceptions, five forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.
Brown and McCarthy clearly had troubles with defensive coordinator Jerry Gray and/or first-year linebacker coach Chet Parlavecchio. Parlavecchio was an immensely likeable guy and a close friend of Mike Munchak’s. But he was almost certainly cast as a position coach too soon, and was unable to squeeze consistency and improvement out of the group.
McCarthy said he, Ayers and Brown gave the Titans an injection of young talent in the past few years.
“It was tough to be successful to say the least,” he said of 2013. “A lot of linebackers battled with different things, and a lot of guys weren’t happy. But I think with the changes Ruston Webster made, bringing Coach (Ken) Whisenhunt, with the defensive coaches we have now, it’s a breath of fresh air. Guys are excited, me in particular.”
The best guys will play and these coaches will shoot players straight, not tell them what they want to hear, McCarthy said.
“I put last year behind me,” Brown said. “With our coaches now, we communicate a lot more [so] the players have a better time in communication with people. Last year everybody was just kind of looking out for himself. This year is different.
“Everybody’s a team. You feel it in the building, the atmosphere has changed.”
“I’m anxious to play again, because last year before I got hurt I think I was leading the league in tackles,” he said. “I want my name to be up there at the top, along with our defense ...
“I do honestly feel that they did use me as a scapegoat last year, but I really can’t do nothing about me playing. Them sitting me down, it wasn’t my fault. If you’re going to sit down one of your best players, there isn’t anything I can do about it. All I could do was sit and watch.”
McCarthy’s got an injury history and fell behind with a tweaked hamstring that cost him most of training camp.
“Once I did that I was kind of put aside, I got moved around a lot, I got told a lot of different things and things didn’t happen,” McCarthy said. “Frustration kicked in Week 11, Week 12 and just with the way we were doing, it was a tough year ...
“(Now), I’m being positive, I’m excited about the change."