Out with the old, in with the new; such is the life of a coach in the National Football League.
The day after the last regular season game is known as “Black Monday,” or when many NFL head coaches are given their walking papers.
While it’s unfortunate for anyone to lose their job, it’s a performance-based business. However, that also opens the door for other NFL coaches to step into a new role.
NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero recently put together his annual list of the young coaches to watch for future head-coaching vacancies based on conversations he’s had with NFL executives, coaches, and others around the league.
And the Tennessee Titans are well-represented, with four members of their coaching staff making the cut.
While he may not be well-liked among Titans fans, offensive coordinator Todd Downing is the first listed, and the only one from Tennessee who Pelissero lists among potential candidates for the 2023 hiring cycle.
Of course, his recent run-in with the law presents a challenge, not only with his current team but any future prospective teams that would undoubtedly have concerns about the possibility of a repeat offense.
Here’s what Pelissero wrote about Downing, which came before his arrest on Friday morning.
Now in his 18th season as an NFL assistant, Downing is known as a grinder with the right demeanor for the job, and he has shown he can be successful in different ways. Yes, the Titans’ offense currently ranks 26th in points and 32nd in yards. But as coach Mike Vrabel said after one recent win, “That is going to have to be how we play. It is a battle.”
Here’s a look at what Pelissero wrote about the others.
Titans defensive coordinator, Shane Bowen:
Only 35 years of age, Bowen is in his fifth year with the Titans organization. After a rough 2020 season, the Titans’ defense has been borderline elite over the last two seasons. Anchored by playmakers in Kevin Byard, Jeffery Simmons, and Harold Landry (before the ACL injury), the Titans also have several promising young players in Kristian Fulton, Roger McCreary, and Amani Hooker roaming in the secondary.
Titans outside linebackers coach Ryan Crow:
Part of Bowen’s staff, Ryan Crow is also in his fifth year with the organization and his second year as the outside linebackers coach. Rising through the collegiate ranks, he’s helped develop Harold Landry and Ola Adeniyi into superstars while rejuvenating Denico Autry’s career. He also has a hand in Rashad Weaver’s development, who looks to be on the cusp of being something special.
Titans passing game coordinator Tim Kelly:
Kelly is the latest former Houston Texans coaching staff to head for Nashville under Mike Vrabel. He’s in his first year with the Titans and ninth overall in the NFL. The 36-year-old had a huge hand in a Texans’ passing attack that finished with the second-most yards in 2020. Kelly will look to do the same in his time with Nashville for Ryan Tannehill and, eventually, Malik Willis.
To be quite frank, it’s surprising Downing was listed here at all after the poor job he has done overall since 2021. Also surprising is that Bowen, who has been sensational since 2021 (and far better than Downing), isn’t the one considered for the coming coaching cycle while Downing is.
It’s safe to say Downing is one coordinator Titans fans wouldn’t mind having poached, but Bowen is on quite the opposite end of the spectrum.