Drexel wrote a great article the other day about the improvement in the Titans’ offense and he mentioned several points that are very relevant to another article which I’m finally writing. Sometimes I just have an idea and think to myself, “that would be a good thing to write about some day,” and then it kind of stays on the back burner for a few months.
Let’s go back one year through our time machines. Norm Chow was fired and Mike Heimerdinger was hired to replace him. The Titans did not have a particularly potent offense in Chow’s three years as OC and he had a lot of flak directed towards him, often unfairly, in my opinion.
I have seen some of Chow’s offenses for years, going way back to the 1980s at Brigham Young, when he ran different offenses with different players, including guys like Steve Young, Jim McMahon, Robbie Bosco, and the Detmer brothers. I don’t recall seeing his NC State offense with Philip Rivers in his brief stint there, but I did then see his great years at USC with Carson Palmer, Matt Leinart, Reggie Bush, LenDale White et al. Heisman Trophy winners, Pro Bowlers, All-Pros and Hall of Famers, all of whom he helped develop. Different players with different styles, different abilities and different skill sets, but Chow was always able to run different offenses to best utilize the talent he had on hand.
I can go on about Chow, both his good points and bad, his strengths and his weaknesses, but that’s not what I want to focus on in this article, which was inspired by that idea I had a year ago.
Was Norm Chow the problem with Tennessee’s offense? A year ago, I thought it would be rather simple to make a few observations and form an opinion from them. The Titans would have generally the same personnel and the only major difference would be Dinger instead of Chow. I thought that after a month or two into the season we could compare the new Dinger offense to the old Chow ones and that it would be an apples to apples comparison. Pretty simple to draw a few conclusions from, right?
Not so fast, Einstein. I was making an invalid assumption that the only variable in the equation would be Dinger instead of Chow. Instead, we had three variables, which complicated things. Instead of comparing apples to apples, we were also looking at oranges and bananas.
For one, we had a different quarterback, Kerry Collins, whose game is much different than Vince Young’s.
We also had a new dimension to the offense, a new dynamic, with the big play ability, the sudden strike capability of Chris Johnson. I believe almost all of us initially believed CJ would be just a third down, change of pace guy, not a guy who would become the feature back.
So by October, we had not only a new coordinator, but also a new quarterback and a new starting running back. Instead of one of those simple quadratic equations where you simply solved for x, you now also had y and z as variables.
I guess we may never know the answer, whether or not Norm Chow was the problem. And we might also never know if Mike Heimerdinger was the answer. Or if Collins or Johnson was the answer. Or some combination of all the above. Or none of them. It’s now purely hypothetical for me. What’s your opinion?