One position group the Tennessee Titans are expecting to take a huge leap is the linebacking corps. After showing flashes of talent, fourth-year player Colin McCarthy is expecting a fast turnaround.
“It was tough to be successful to say the least,” McCarthy told ESPN of last season. “A lot of linebackers battled with different things, and a lot of guys weren’t happy. But I think with the changes Ruston Webster made, bringing Coach (Ken) Whisenhunt, with the defensive coaches we have now, it’s a breath of fresh air. Guys are excited, me in particular.”
McCarthy was expected to be the Titans middle linebacker last season before injuries and spotty play led to a major decrease in playing time.
Teammate Zach Brown agrees, “With our coaches now, we communicate a lot more [so] the players have a better time in communication with people. Last year everybody was just kind of looking out for himself. This year is different.”
Brown and McCarthy have both shown flashes of talent, but the Titans would be foolish to not look to add another player to the mix. With Brown moving inside, he may take time to adjust. Meanwhile, despite the talent he’s shown when healthy, McCarthy simply hasn’t been reliable enough to be the teams long-term option in the middle.
Coaching obviously played a huge role in the linebacker group’s struggles last season, with many players looking lost and out of place at times. A new staff brings new hope, which is something Brown says is already starting to spread throughout the locker-room.
“Everybody’s a team. You feel it in the building, the atmosphere has changed.”
Only time will tell if the optimism will lead to improved play, but one thing is certain: There will be no more excuses for this group in 2014.