On Thursday the Tennessee Titans officially announced the hiring of former Pittsburgh Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau as their new assistant head coach in charge of the defense and according to a report by Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean, the 77-year-old will indeed have full control of that side of the football. Wyatt reports that defensive coordinator Ray Horton will even report to LeBeau.
“It’s up to Dick, and Dick and Ray will work that out,” Titans head coach Ken Whisenhunt reportedly said when asked who will be calling the shots on gamedays. “But it’s all going to be up to Dick.”
While Whisenhunt reportedly said that Horton was on board from the start with the decision to bring in LeBeau, you would have to think that the Titans defensive coordinator feels slighted just a bit.
Horton was the Steelers secondary coach from 2004-2010 and during that time LeBeau was the team’s defensive coordinator. After the 2010 season ended Horton was hired by Whisenhunt to be the Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator for two seasons.
While the Titans defense did finish 27th overall in yards allowed and 29th in points allowed in 2014 under Horton, it’s important to remember that the team shifted from a 4-3 to 3-4 scheme and that’s no easy task. Horton, however, wasn’t ready to use that as an excuse late in the season.
“It’s not the scheme,” Horton said in December, according to Wyatt. “It’s not the 3-4 or 4-3 — and I would never sell the players out. We would change the scheme if it didn’t work. We have to make plays, and that is what this business is about. The head coach preaches, it, I preach it. That’s how you get paid, by making plays.”
I’m sure LeBeau can sympathize some with Horton as the Steelers defense certainly failed to make plays last season as well. That’s likely why LeBeau
was forced out resigned after the season was over.
Regardless of who calls the shots in 2015 for the Titans on the defensive side of the football, you can bet that ownership will expect the unit to improve drastically in their second season as a 3-4 team now that LeBeau has been brought on board. If that doesn’t happen, Whisenhunt, Horton, LeBeau and the rest of the Titans coaching staff might all be looking for jobs together next offseason.
The Titans will at least have an easy schedule on paper in 2015 as they’ll only have to play three teams that made the playoffs in 2014. In addition, four of their 2015 opponents will have new head coaches.