David Climer: Have the Titans evolved into the Raiders?

8:23 AM, Jan 4, 2013   |    comments
Tennessee Titans
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Commentary by David Climer, The Tennessean

Maybe we should start calling them the Tennessee Raiders.

Day by day and season by season, our local NFL organization is starting to resemble the aimless, pointless, playoffs-less way Oakland meandered along as Al Davis grew older and (How do we put this delicately?) more eccentric.

Since Davis is no longer with us and Oakland has begun to make sensible management and personnel decisions, the Titans have replaced the Raiders as the NFL punch line du jour. And Bud Adams, at age 90 and three years removed from his notorious double-finger salute at LP Field, has replaced Davis as the league's (Delicately, please) most eccentric owner.

Granted, Bud does not meddle in daily operations like he once did. But he still makes the call on big-ticket decisions like hiring Mike Munchak as coach two years ago and retaining him after a 6-10 season that included six losses by three touchdowns or more.

The uneven oversight of the organization was highlighted earlier this week by Bud's decision to fire Mike Reinfeldt. Our Titans beat writer Jim Wyatt believes the root of Bud's displeasure with Reinfeldt is based on the pursuit - or lack of serious pursuit - of Peyton Manning back in May.

It seems that Reinfeldt is perceived as not acquiescing immediately and completely to Bud's desire to do whatever it took to convince Manning he should sign with the Titans.

When Manning ended up in Denver, Bud held a grudge. The depth of that grudge boiled to the surface on Monday when Reinfeldt was fired, less than a year after he was elevated from general manager to senior executive vice president/chief operating officer.

Here's a thought: If Bud was so upset with Reinfeldt over any bungling of the Manning matter, why did he wait 10 months to show his displeasure? He should've fired him on the spot for insubordination.

Look, I was never Reinfeldt's biggest fan but he's just another scapegoat here. It's no different than when Mike Munchak fired offensive coordinator Chris Palmer with five games left in the season. Palmer may not have been the solution, but he certainly wasn't the problem.

Likewise, Reinfeldt is getting blamed for circumstances beyond his control. While he may not have jumped to action quickly enough to suit Bud, the bottom line is Manning was never going to sign with the Titans. Manning identified a much better situation in Denver, where he immediately connected with Broncos executive John Elway, a Hall of Fame quarterback.

Would the Titans have been a better team with Manning this season? Absolutely. But would Manning be quarterbacking a team that has won 11 straight games and has home-field advantage throughout the playoffs if he had signed with the Titans? No. The team has too many holes.

While we're at it, don't blame Reinfeldt for the Titans' spotty drafts since his arrival in 2007. In the first four drafts on his watch, then-Coach Jeff Fisher had the final word on personnel matters, including draft picks. It was Fisher that coveted second-round pick Chris Henry and third-rounder Paul Williams in '07 and third-round pick Rennie Curran in '10, among others.

After Fisher left town, Reinfeldt ran his own draft board in 2011 and scored four current starters with the first four picks that year. Ruston Webster took over last year's draft after Reinfeldt was kicked upstairs.

But back to the current state of Titans management: Is this a billion-dollar NFL enterprise or a mom & pop shop? With only two playoff appearances in the last nine years, this is an organization in sore need of new ideas and fresh blood. Promoting familiar faces from within does not prompt change.

As the Titans are relegated to the role of spectators for the fourth consecutive postseason, we are left to wonder if things are going to get significantly better anytime soon. Based on the current state of the program, the best characteristic a Titans fan can have is patience.

Lots of patience.

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