NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — In a stunning late-season move the Titans have parted ways with general manager Jon Robinson, despite a 7-5 record and a team that is closing in on a third straight AFC South title.
Robinson was hired by the Titans in 2016 and has built the franchise into a consistent winner, but he has had a series of high-profile misses in the draft and free agency and traded star wide receiver A.J. Brown to the Eagles during the NFL Draft last spring, which has crippled the team's offense this fall.
The final straw appears to have been Sunday's 35-10 loss to Brown's Eagles in which the star receiver destroyed the Titans with eight receptions for 119 yards and two touchdowns, showing both his impact for a Philly team with the best record in the NFL and how his absence has affected Tennessee's ability to compete with the best teams in the league.
WHAT WAS SAID
Tennessee controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk released a statement on the decision to fire Robinson:
“Since becoming controlling owner in 2015, my goal has been to raise the standard for what is expected in all facets of our organization. I believe we have made significant progress both on and off the field through investments in leadership, personnel, and new ideas. This progress includes the core of our business, the football team itself, which is regularly evaluated both by results (wins and losses) and team construction/roster building. I am proud of what we have accomplished in my eight seasons of ownership, but I believe there is more to be done and higher aspirations to be met.
I want to thank Jon for his dedicated work to set this organization on an upward trajectory and I wish him and his family the best.”
The idea that the Titans would fire Robinson on Dec. 6th is stunning.
The Titans are on their way to a seventh straight winning season under Robinson, who was the person perhaps most responsible for building the franchise into a consistent winner after a 5-27 stretch in 2014-2015 in which it was the worst team in the league in back to back seasons.
Overall, the Titans were 66-42 under Robinson. That included four - soon to be five -playoff appearances, two going on three division titles, a trip to the AFC Championship and the No. 1 seed last year. They were 3-4 in the playoffs.
The presumption was that Robinson would have the opportunity to re-tool the roster to help the Titans get over the hump considering all the success he had building the roster the first time around from the worst in the league to a consistent winner.
But that doesn't seem to be good enough for Adams Strunk, who clearly is gunning to win the franchise's first Super Bowl. She fired Mike Mularkey after winning a playoff game because it appeared the #Titans had hit their ceiling. Now she’s parting ways with Robinson because personnel’s holding them back.
With this move, she is clearly attaching her expectations to head coach Mike Vrabel, who will now assume more influence in player personnel decisions with director of player personnel Ryan Cowden assuming the GM role for the remainder of the season.
WHAT IT MEANS
What this means for the long term is unknown. Could there be a style of play change coming? That seems unlikely given Vrabel's commitment to running the ball and defense.
And there's a definite risk to this move. It is not unreasonable to think this could signal a rebuild and a competitive slide backward, at least for some time.
But for right now it is a wake-up call to the Titans that just winning the AFC South isn’t good enough to satisfy their owner. The expectations here, in no small part due to Robinson, have been raised far beyond that.
It will also be interesting to see what moves Cowden makes in-season with a beat-up roster. One thing Robinson, along with Mike Vrabel, has done well the last two years is find guys during the season to plug holes and play.
That now falls on Cowden in his tryout for the job.