Titans Coaching Shuffle Leaves a Legend in Limbo

Jacob Feldman
Sports Illustrated

Dick LeBeau has either coached or played in the NFL for 59 straight years. He was drafted by the Browns when Jim Brown still roamed the backfield and made a career of playing defensive back against the likes of Johnny Unitas. After retiring in 1972, he immediately moved into a coaching role, popularizing the zone blitz for the Bengals in the 1980s. He wasn't successful as a head coach in Cincinnati during the early 2000s, but coached the Steelers' defense to two Super Bowl titles and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2010. Now 80 years old, he's been an assistant coach in Tennessee since 2015. But with Mike Mularkey gone, there's a chance LeBeau’s NFL run could be over.

Jason Wolf reported in the Tennessean that LeBeau “would be comfortable retiring” if the fit isn't right with whoever becomes the next Titans coach. He has one year left on his contract, and has worked under both offensive and defensive-minded coaches in the past, but there's a chance whoever comes in would want to bring in his own assistant. It's also possible that LeBeau could transition into a consultant role; Wolf wrote that LeBeau's relationships with the current players are a big reason he's considering coming back. Either way, LeBeau's legendary status in NFL history is secured. Before last week's matchup, Bill Belichick said, “He’s one of the great coaches to ever walk the sidelines in this league."

Not getting this newsletter in your inbox yet? Join The MMQB’s Morning Huddle.

HOT READS

NOW ON THE MMQB: Jonathan Jones argues that Sean Payton needs to up his trash-talking game ... Conor Orr scouted the Patriots using Steve Belichick's scouting manual ... and more.

LATER TODAY: Peter King discusses the drama in Pittsburgh ... Orr looks at Tom Brady through Logan Ryan's eyes ... and more. Stay tuned.

WHAT YOU MAY HAVE MISSED: On the Vikings, Broken Hearts and Unfettered Joy by Steve Rushin ... Albert Breer reported that Mike Vrabel is a leading candidate in Tennessee ... and more.

PRESS COVERAGE

1. Finally a cause for celebration, Saints fans: Drew Brees has no plans to even consider leaving New Orleans. Elsewhere in the Big Easy, Sean Payton was caught taunting again, and this time he says, "It was good playoff fun."

2. The biggest question mark in the playoffs is still whether Nick Foles is good enough to carry the Eagles. Jeff McLane dug deep (like 2,000 words deep) into the film from last week to get answers.

3. Dion Lewis chose New England over the Giants when he got back into the NFL (after he sat as a free agent for 985 days) because he knew the Patriots had helped smaller players succeed in the past. Now, the 5-foot-8 running back is the latest short star to help carry the team.

4. Rushing champion Kareem Hunt was named rookie of the year by the Pro Football Writers Association.

5. Former Giants coach Ben McAdoo is interviewing for the Browns' offensive coordinator job. He overlapped with Cleveland GM John Dorsey from 2006-12 in Green Bay.

6. Armando Salguero explains the backstory that will complicate negotiations between the Dolphins and wideout Jarvis Landry—beyond the $3 million-plus gap in the salaries each would prefer.

7. Maybe Doug Marrone was onto something when he reorganized the Jacksonville locker room and removed the table tennis after becoming coach, even if the team "threw a tantrum," according to defensive tackle Malik Jackson.

8. I've seen several articles in local outlets explaining that this crop of remaining teams proves you don't have to overpay for a quarterback to contend. On The Ringer, Kevin Clark says no, "You still need a quarterback."

9. You knew something was going to come out of Ben Roethlisberger's Tuesday radio interview. Turns out, Roethlisberger says, he can't audible to a QB sneak. "I truly have never said I don't want to run it," the QB added. "I have asked for it." This all comes at a time when both his offensive coordinator and head coach are under varying degrees of public fire.

10. Decry Thursday Night Football all you want, every alphabet-soup network still wants to air it.

Have a story you think we should include in tomorrow’s Press Coverage? Let us know here.

THE KICKER

Jacksonville may not be known as a football-crazed town, but Leonard Fournette getting into a minor car accident and then signing a car bumper and taking a photo with another person involved in the wreck is a football crazy story.

Question? Comment? Story idea? Let the team know at talkback@themmqb.com

What to Read Next