In the offseason, the Titans lost two of their top three wide receivers from a year ago. Brandon Jones, who led the WR corps in 2008 with 41 receptions, went to the 49ers in free agency. Hope you enjoy the money, BJ. Justin McCareins was third among the wideouts with 30 receptions and was not re-signed.
To replace them, the Titans added free agent Nate Washington and first-round draft pick Kenny Britt.
It begs the question, are the Titans better off with the changes or not as well off?
This afternoon, Tennessee receivers coach Fred Graves stated the Titans WRs corps is better off with Washington and Britt, saying the group now has a lot more speed. Personally, I believe that will help the entire offense, primarily Chris Johnson and Justin Gage. Of course, Bo Scaife and LenDale White will benefit as well. All of which ought to make Mike Heimerdinger and Kerry Collins very happy.
Graves also talked about rookie receivers in general and it seemed to me like he didn’t expect a lot out of them, that it was a steep learning curve for them as a whole. Rookie receivers usually have to learn three times as many plays in the NFL as they did in college, said Graves. He also said another big adjustment for them was learning to read coverages.
In college, especially with the proliferation of spread offenses in recent years, Graves said, WRs didn’t really need to read coverages. I’m a little surprised he didn’t say anything about them learning to get off the line but perhaps he simply felt that was a given.
Also left unsaid was that college receivers tended to get by on their athleticism and natural ability. Graves did stress the importance of route-running, however.
As his bio
indicates, Graves has coached some fine receivers in his lengthy career. Among his pupils in college were former Titan Kevin Dyson and Carolina Panthers’ All-Pro Steve Smith. In Buffalo, he coached Eric Moulds, Peerless Price and Josh Reed, who put up some gaudy stats in 2002.
Graves is probably best known by Titans fans for a drill in which he makes his guys catch bricks that he throws at them. One thing most fans don’t know is how Graves got the job as Tennessee’s receivers coach. After a vacancy was created when Ray Sherman left, Steve Smith sought out Jeff Fisher at the Indianapolis combine to highly recommend Graves for the job. When a star of Smith’s caliber recommends his former college coach, that says something.
I imagine Fisher listened to Smith and that he also contacted Dyson and former Titans DC and Bills HC Gregg Williams for their input. I’m also confident they gave Graves glowing recommendations.
I like Graves. Fred’s a good coach, and not just because he’s had some good players. For that matter, I also liked Sherman, who I thought was particularly good with the rookies in 2005.
What’s your opinion about Graves and his ability as a coach? I’m interested in hearing what you have to say.