Updated: Feb 9
On Tuesday, the Titans promoted passing game coordinator, Tim Kelly, to Offensive Coordinator. This comes 20 days after the team hired GM Ran Carthon, ushering in a new era in Tennessee.
This comes after a disappointing 2022 season which saw the Titans finish bottom 5 in yards per game, points per game, and 3rd to last in passing yards per game. They were also the only team in the NFL not to score 28 or more points in a single game.
Kelly, 36, was the team's passing game coordinator in 2022 after coming from the Texans where he spent 2014-2021. He served in various roles, the most notable being Offensive Coordinator from 2019-2021.
Vrabel opted for familiarity over outside options, saying "I don't think everything's broken."
Initially, hiring within the franchise indicates trust in an experienced member of the staff. However, there are also some reasons for concern. Kelly, who was in charge of the passing game in 2022, led the team to just 171 passing yards per game.
As an offensive coordinator with Houston, he was underwhelming, coaching his team to a bottom 10 offense by yards per game in 2 of 3 seasons.
There were some positives, though. The Texans led the NFL in yards per play with 6.39 in 2020 and QB DeShaun Watson led the league in passing despite a 4-12 record.
The decision to hire Kelly suggests that the team either liked Kelly more than outside options or did not believe they could hire them. After interviewing someone like Chiefs OC, Eric Bienemy, there was a lot of excitement brewing about a potential new face and system.
I would also extrapolate that keeping an in-house coordinator who knows the team well suggests the team will also keep an in-house Quarterback in Ryan Tannehill.
When the Titans promoted Todd Downing in 2021, past results as a coordinator raised alarm. While the team did trade AJ Brown and failed to help Tannehill in the offseason, the stagnant offense was largely a result of Downing.
Vrabel's steady backing of Kelly is a promising sign. He recognizes that the core players are more than capable of success and recognizes that what Downing did was not at all working.
The offense has a few legit pieces like Chig Okonkwo, Treylon Burks, and of course, Derrick Henry. While they'll need more this offseason, a good coordinator would make 2023 a significantly better offensive season.
Vrabel called Kelly the "perfect fit" and says that while things will not be entirely different, adjustments will be made from last season.
Something to note: Vrabel's ability to hire within should not be entirely overshadowed by Todd Downing. Arthur Smith was an incredible coordinator in his 2 seasons and Shane Bowen has been impressive so far.
Given that Vrabel believes believes things are in fact not broken and is hiring within, I anticipate a similar 2023 season in many ways.