HOUSTON -- Titans controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk has never spoken publicly in that role, but her top employees say she regularly communicates with them.
I have no idea if she reads what’s written about her team, but in case she does, I type these words in hope of helping spare important people concussions, torn ligaments and broken bones.
On Sunday, not far from her home, she watched Zach Mettenberger get sacked seven times and hit seven more in the Titans' sixth consecutive loss and the 20th in 23 games under coach Ken Whisenhunt.
There was no big change in plan or approach heading into this game that provided some new reason for hope. Whisenhunt has shown over those games that he’s not overhauling schemes or changing course no matter how much the results demand it.
And his team stands 1-6, losers of six in a row, alone in the basement of the AFC South, the worst division in recent memory.
It's been said that doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results amounts to insanity; if that's the case, these Titans are crazy.
I’ve been among the more understanding of Strunk’s silence. But I’m not sure she’s being sufficiently coached by those close to her, whom I suspect either fear her or fear speaking up, much the same way players often are afraid to speak out.
The players can’t call for major change without insulting the boss and hurting their standing with him. That is, then, a job for Strunk and the man she brought out of retirement to run her franchise, Steve Underwood.
It's past time for her to be heard, if not by us, then by her top two football people.
Either Strunk, or interim CEO/president Underwood on her behalf, has got to sit down with Whisenhunt and general manager Ruston Webster and make two points very clear.
The first: Whisenhunt needs to open himself up to new ideas in a way he hasn’t before. Then people on his staff and on his team need to have the gumption to take him up on the offer and give their thoughts on solutions.
The Titans need to try some new stuff.
Win or lose at New Orleans on Sunday, Whisenhunt can stand at the podium and say, “We ran the ball more,” “We played a sixth offensive lineman on a regular basis,” “We simplified our packages” or whatever.
There may not be another win for Whisenhunt to show us. But at least he can hold up some evidence that, after getting wins in 13 percent of his chances, he altered course.
I believe people, including coaches who should be of influence, are afraid of Whisenhunt, or don't feel it's worth it to challenge him because they can't break through.
Strunk has to change that.
If she is standing back to allow him to work, she is, in effect, preventing many other employees from contributing to a solution.
The second thing she needs to make clear: If Marcus Mariota or another Titans quarterback gets hit close to as much as Mettenberger did Sunday again, she will be making a change the next morning despite the fact that she believes doing so is impractical.
That’s the most important thing here.
Organizations are obligated to protect talented young quarterbacks. The Titans recently posted a mission statement on their walls. If they are really serious about becoming an elite franchise, they need an elite quarterback.
Mariota might become one, but he can’t do it from the trainer's room or a hospital bed.
And that’s where he’s headed based on how this team plays.
If Strunk says that to her coach and GM, Mariota’s health is on them.
If she doesn't, she would be complicit in allowing Mariota to suffer a future beating like the one Mettenberger suffered Sunday.
And while the coaches and linemen will have failed to do their jobs, Strunk will be just as culpable as the rest of them for the damage done to the team’s most valuable asset.