Regrets? Everybody’s got a few. … We asked for some feedback on one thing you’d like to go back and change for each team in the AFC South.
I was thinking more of something before the season than during it, though I may reconsider in a few instances.
For the Tennessee Titans, your overwhelming response was regretting Chris Johnson's contract or the timing of it. Certainly that’s a legitimate entry, but it’s popular and obvious and we strive for a bit more nuance. So I’m going to steer away from it in favor of something I didn’t see mentioned.
Here’s my biggest second-guess about the 2011 Titans: Moving Jason Jones from defensive tackle to defensive end.
The Titans' defensive line was an overall disappointment in its first season after longtime position coach Jim Washburn left. Their top singular pass rush force, Jason Babin, was not counted as a free agent and went to Philadelphia.
Washburn was a staunch proponent of Jones as a tackle. With his big wingspan and excellent quickness he was a very good inside player. The issue was that he had a tendency to get injured and wear down. New coordinator Jerry Gray and new line coach Tracy Rocker decided Jones would fit their scheme. They looked to be more run-sound, get bigger up front and better as an end.
But Jones did not produce from the outside the way the Titans anticipated. He took one for the team with the move and it will cost him money, as he’s not as likely to get offers that are as good in upcoming free agency.
Gray was reluctant late in the season to talk about what the Titans would want to do with Jones going forward if they could keep him, and talked as if the team used him largely the same way as he was used under Washburn. But he was not inside as often. Matthew Willis of ESPN Stats and Info tells me Jones was a defensive end on 415 plays and a defensive tackle 233. On the 415 plays as an end, he managed two sacks.
I expect Jones will move on. If the Titans wanted to make a sales pitch, they’d best serve themselves to say he’s a better tackle than end and they’d like to get him back inside.