Ran Cardboard received greetings upon arrival in Tennessee, but soon the new CEO of the Titans will have important decisions to make.
At Friday’s opening press conference, Carton was asked about the future of the quarterback position, specifically Ryan Tannehill’s status.
“I don’t think that’s fair at the moment,” Carton told reporters. “We are still evaluating the squad. Ryan is great here. He has won many football matches. I look forward to when we win football matches. But I still need more time to evaluate and make those decisions.”
Tannehill’s fourth season in Tennessee was hampered by ankle injuries that cost him five starts in 2022, including a Titans week 18 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars for the AFC Southern crown. The 11-year veteran threw for 2,536 yards, 13 touchdowns and six interceptions with a healthy 94.6 passer rating. Tennessee was 6-6 in the games Tannehill started.
After a year of offense holding back the Titans’ playoff-ready defense (a league-leading 76.8 yards per game), the QB switch became a point of controversy following the team’s first losing season since 2015. This summer, Tannehill enters the final year of the $118 million contract he signed in 2020 with the Titans. He is set to earn a $27 million base salary with a maximum of $36.6 million in Tennessee’s ledgers, according to Over The Cap.
Karton didn’t lose sight of the importance of having a stable QB, despite there being no concrete answer at Tannehill on Friday.
“It’s a league run by quarterbacks,” Carton said. “People are hired and fired every day for this position. I want to spend more time evaluating this post so I can have my own opinion. Then Mike (Vrabel) and I will consult and decide everything.”
Titans head coach Mike Vrabel admitted there would be changes at the end-of-season press conference two weeks ago. Later that day, Vrabel fired offensive coordinator Todd Downing, along with three other coaches who followed Tennessee by parting ways with GM John Robinson midway through the season.
However, regarding Tannehill, Vrabel called Tannehill the team’s starter who looks ahead as long as QB was fully healthy. Quarterback defense and offensive speed were among the other improvements Vrabel made in the offseason.
“The same thing I always wanted it to be smart, tough and fast,” Vrabel said at the time of his team’s personality. “(I want it to be) physically. I still think that this game requires a certain level of fitness for each level. Basically great, play with technique. But we have to get faster. We must be faster football. command. We are rarely the fastest team.”
Carton, as part of his Titans mission statement, said he will work alongside Vrabel to achieve that vision in 2023.
“Mike Vrabel is at the top of my to-do list,” Carton said. “We are working together, building relationships and coming up with a plan to build this squad. There are a lot of things we need to do that we need to fix to make this organization better, but my #1 priority is spending more time with Mike Wrabel and learning about the systems that work here and how I can help improve them, which will help us create championship team.
Vrabel’s football brand delivered consistent success through an injury-riddled 2022 season, which ended a streak of 11-plus wins in a row and three consecutive playoff appearances. Carton, who has spent the past seven years with the 49ers, has been hired to provide a fresh look at the Titans’ roster strategy going forward and add improvements to Vrabel’s successful concept.
“I may be the best talent assessor of all time, but if I can’t get Mike the players he needs to fit his system, then it won’t work,” Carton said. “We’re not here to gather talent – we’re here to build a team.”