The excitement was captured in all caps and required four exclamation points.
Strong safety George Wilson agreed to a multi-year contract with the Titans on Friday and tweeted, “I’M COMING HOME!!!!”
Wilson grew up in Paducah, Ky., about 135 miles northwest of the place where he’ll establish a new home. Wilson has spent most of the past nine seasons with Buffalo, who released him in a salary-saving move on Feb. 11.
The 6-foot, 212-pound safety, who converted from receiver along the way and five-time captain with the Bills is expected to add experience and leadership to a young Titans defense.
“George is a quality veteran player,” Titans general manager Ruston Webster said. “He will contribute for us on the field, but his contributions also will come off the field, in the locker room and in the meetings rooms. He was respected as a football player and a leader during his career in Buffalo, and he will bring that veteran presence to our team.”
Wilson tallied 362 tackles, 12 interceptions, 22 passes defended, three forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries and 57 special teams tackles in 92 games with the Bills. He entered the NFL as a receiver with Detroit out of Arkansas, but was waived at the end of his rookie training camp with the Lions. He then signed to the Bills practice squad and transitioned from offense to defense during the 2007 offseason.
Wilson made 55 starts at safety for the Bills, including 29 in the past two seasons, and was chosen as the team’s Walter Payton Man of the Year in 2009 and 2011.
Wilson missed Tennessee’s game against Buffalo in December 2011 but played against the Titans this past season, recording eight tackles.
Veteran QB Matt Hasselbeck, who led the Titans to a late win at Buffalo this past season, said Wilson has a great reputation.
“George is a real quality person, a real quality player, a great athlete,” Hasselbeck said. “I think everyone has got a ton of respect for his game and what he brings to the table. We’re excited to have him.”
Hasselbeck said Wilson will reinforce coach Mike Munchak’s motto, “Be a pro.”
“One thing when you think about George, ‘Hey, this guy’s a pro. He’s a guy you can count on, and he’s going to know his job and do it,’ ” Hasselbeck said. “Whether you’re young or old, you have the ability to be a pro, and he’s just exactly that kind of guy. It’s a great description for the kind of player he is.”
The Tennessee Titans hired Steve Hoffman as Assistant Special Teams coach and elevated Arthur Smith to Offensive Line/Tight Ends Assistant.
Hoffman has a long and successful history in the NFL as a special teams coach. He has 23 years of NFL experience as a coach, including stops at Oakland (2012), Kansas City (2009-2011), Miami (2007-08), Atlanta (2006) and Dallas (1989-04).
Last year, as the Special Teams coach for the Oakland Raiders, K Sebastian Janikowski posted the best field goal percentage of his career (91.2%, 31/34) and was a perfect 25/25 for kicks inside of 50 yards. The three previous years (2009-11), Hoffman was the Special Teams coach for the Kansas City Chiefs. In his first year with the Chiefs, the special teams group showed significant improvement, moving from 29th to 12th in the yearly special teams rankings by the Dallas Morning News. Punter Dustin Colquitt posted the top single-season net punting average (40.8) in franchise history and K Ryan Succop tied for the highest field goal percentage (86.2) by an NFL rookie since 1970. Hoffman spent two seasons as an Assistant Special Teams coach for the Miami Dolphins and a season in the same role for the Atlanta Falcons.
He entered the NFL as a Kicking Coach for the Dallas Cowboys in 1989, a position he would hold for 16 seasons. While in Dallas, his specialists established 15 team records and he contributed to three Super Bowl titles. He also doubled as a quality control assistant for the offensive and defensive staffs during his tenure with the Cowboys.
Smith has two years of experience on the Titans staff. His first year was as a Defensive Assistant/Quality Control and last year he served as the Offensive Assistant/Quality Control.
The Tennessee Titans hired Gregg Williams as Senior Assistant/Defense.
The NFL informed Williams that he has been reinstated today and provided the following statement for release:
“Commissioner Roger Goodell today notified Gregg Williams and the Tennessee Titans that Williams’ contract with the Titans has been approved and that he has been reinstated. The commissioner cited several reasons for the reinstatement, including Williams’ forthcoming acknowledgement of and acceptance of responsibility for his role in the bounty program at the Saints, his commitment to never again be involved in a pay-for-performance or bounty system, and his pledge to teach safe play and respect for the rules at all levels of the game. The commissioner emphasized that Williams must fully conform to league rules and will be subject to periodic monitoring to confirm his compliance.”
• Photos: Williams' Career
Williams returns to the Titans organization, where he started his NFL career and coached for 11 seasons (1990-2000), including four years as the defensive coordinator. In his final season, the Titans ranked first in the league in defense and second in scoring defense. The Titans tallied 109 total sacks from 1999-2000 and 40 takeaways in 1999. Williams has 23 years of NFL coaching experience, including three years as the Head Coach of the Buffalo Bills from 2001-03. Last year, he was suspended by the NFL for his participation in the bounty program while coaching with the New Orleans Saints.
“I have known Gregg for over two decades and have seen him work his way up from a quality control coach to a head coach,” said Titans Head Coach Mike Munchak. “He will bring a great deal of defensive knowledge and energy to our staff. The decision to bring him here only came after going through a thoughtful and thorough process.”
Williams’ defenses have ranked highly in a variety of categories in his 12 seasons as a defensive coordinator, including top 10 rankings in points (four times), overall yards allowed (four times), rushing yards allowed (six times), third down defense (five times) and red zone defense (seven times).
Williams spent three seasons as the defensive coordinator for the New Orleans Saints from 2009-11. In his first season in New Orleans, the Saints ranked second in the NFL with 39 takeaways and second in the NFL in red zone defense on the way to a Super Bowl title. He joined the Saints after one season as the defensive coordinator at Jacksonville (2008).
As the defensive coordinator for the Washington Redskins from 2004-07, his units placed in the NFL top 10 in scoring defense twice (2004, 2005) and twice in fewest yards allowed (2004, 2007). The Redskins advanced to the playoffs twice in the four-year period (2005, 2007) under Head Coach Joe Gibbs.
Williams originally joined the Titans/Oilers franchise as a Quality Control coach in 1990. He held that position for three seasons before coaching special teams in 1993. He took over the linebackers for two seasons before becoming the defensive coordinator in 1997.
In celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Allstate Insurance Companygave fans the chance to vote on who they think makes up the Allstate Pro Football Hall of Fame All-Time Team -- and fomer Houston Oilers and Tennessee Titans offensive lineman Bruce Matthews cracked the list.
From Aug. 3 through Oct. 19, 2012, tens of thousands of fans visited www.YourAllTimeTeam.com to select their personal All-Time Team of Hall of Famers by voting for 23 players at 11 positions and one coach.
Today, during a special broadcast on NFL Network featuring Chris Rose, Steve Wyche and Michael Silver, the fans’ voices were heard as the Allstate Pro Football Hall of Fame All-Time Team was announced. Also on-hand for the announcement were several Hall of Famers and NFL Network personalities, including Rod Woodson, Marshall Faulk, Michael Irvin and Deion Sanders who provided commentary on the selections.
The final team, as determined by the fan vote, is:
QB – Joe Montana
RB – Jim Brown, Walter Payton
WR – Jerry Rice, Michael Irvin
OL – Bruce Matthews (G-T-C), Dan Dierdorf (T), Anthony Muñoz (T), Gene Upshaw (G), Jim Otto (C)
TE – Mike Ditka
DL – Joe Greene (DT), Merlin Olsen (DT), Reggie White (DE), Howie Long (DE)
LB – Dick Butkus, Lawrence Taylor, Jack Lambert
CB – Deion Sanders, Darrell Green
S – Rod Woodson, Ronnie Lott
PK – George Blanda
Head Coach – Vince Lombardi
The Allstate Pro Football Hall of Fame All-Time Team ballot was based on a traditional two-back offensive formation and a 4-3 defense. Fans had the chance to select one coach and 23 players at positions including quarterback, running back, tight end, wide receiver, offensive lineman, defensive lineman, defensive end, linebacker, cornerback, safety and placekicker.
The voting website also offered fans the chance to debate their favorite players, coaches and teams, and featured weekly content to educate fans about the sport through the stories of its legends. Fans then had the chance to enter to win a grand prize Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Weekend package, including a meet-and-greet with pro football legend Howie Long and passes to 2013 Enshrinement Weekend festivities for one winner and a guest, as well as weekly prizes.
The Tennessee Titans hired Shawn Jefferson as Wide Receivers coach, George Henshaw as Tight Ends coach and Sylvester Croom as Running Backs coach.
Additionally, Dowell Loggains permanently moves to Offensive Coordinator from quarterbacks (moved for the final five games of 2012), Dave Ragone will move to Quarterbacks coach from Wide Receivers, Nate Kaczor moves to Special Teams coach from Assistant Offensive Line and Chet Parlavecchio moves to Linebackers coach from Special Teams Assistant. The following coaches from 2012 will not be returning next season: Frank Bush (Linebackers), Alan Lowry (Special Teams), Jim Skipper (Running Backs) and John Zernhelt (Tight Ends).
“Over the last two weeks I have spent my time reviewing our coaching staff and interviewing numerous candidates from the college and pro ranks at a variety of positions in order to improve our coaching staff,” said Titans Head Coach Mike Munchak. “The goal in every decision I have made has been to do whatever I believe puts us in the best position to win this year. I believe with the new coaches that we have added and some shuffling of the current coaches, we have made our staff better. We were able to add proven coaches and by moving others around, it will change the dynamic in the meeting rooms and on the field. We still have some spots remaining to fill and I am always looking to improve our staff, so it is still a work in progress.”
Jefferson spent eight seasons with the Detroit Lions and the last five as the Wide Receivers coach. In his five years with Calvin Johnson, no player in the NFL had more receiving yards (7,080) or receiving touchdowns (50) than Johnson. Last season, Johnson set the NFL mark for receiving yards in a season with 1,964 and earned his third Pro Bowl selection. A 13-year NFL veteran, Jefferson played for four teams (San Diego, New England, Atlanta, Detroit), totaled 7,023 receiving yards and played in two Super Bowls. Jefferson was originally a ninth-round selection of the Houston Oilers in 1991.
Henshaw returns to the Titans coaching staff where he spent nine seasons working with the tight ends from 1997-2005. During his tenure with the team, the tight ends caught 845 passes, the most in the NFL during that span. He also guided TE Frank Wycheck to three Pro Bowl selections and Wycheck led the team in receptions during five separate seasons. Henshaw has a long and successful resume with NFL stops at Denver (1988-92), the New York Giants (1993-96) and New Orleans Saints (2006-07). As an NFL coach he has been an offensive coordinator (Denver and New York Giants) and been a position coach for wide receivers (Denver), tight ends (Tennessee), running backs (New Orleans) and offensive line (Denver).
Croom has 21 years of NFL coaching experience, including one year with the Jacksonville Jaguars as the running back coach last year. Prior to his time in Jacksonville, he spent three seasons (2009-11) with the St. Louis Rams and guided RB Steven Jackson to 3,802 rushing yards and two Pro Bowl selections during their three years together. Croom was the head coach at Mississippi State from 2004-2008 and the offensive coordinator for the Detroit Lions from 1997-2000.
While guiding the Lions offense, RB Barry Sanders posted 2,053 rushing yards in 1997. He also had stints as the running back coach at Green Bay (2001-03), San Diego (1992-96), Indianapolis (1991) and Tampa Bay (1987-90). A native of Tuscaloosa, Ala., Croom was an offensive lineman at the University of Alabama and played one season for the New Orleans Saints.
Kaczor joined the Titans staff last year as the Assistant Offensive Line coach, after spending four seasons (2008-11) with the Jacksonville Jaguars as the Assistant Special Teams coach. While in Jacksonville, the Jaguars fielded some of the most consistent special teams units in the NFL. Montell Owens was selected as the AFC special teams player for the Pro Bowl in both 2010 & 2011 and the units ranked in the top 10 in a number of categories, including punt return average allowed (2008-11), kickoff return average allowed (2010, 2008) and net punt return average (2010). Punter Adam Podlesh posted a then team-record 39.2 net average in 2010.
Ragone spent the last two seasons with the Titans as the Wide Receivers coach. He moves to Quarterbacks coach, the position he coached at the Hartford Colonials in the United Football League in 2010.
Ragone was raised as a quarterback, earning All-State honors as a high school quarterback in Ohio. He was a three-time Conference USA Player of the Year as a quarterback at Louisville and was a third-round NFL selection by the Houston Texans in the 2003 Draft. He played three seasons for the Texans.
Parlavecchio spent the last two seasons with the Titans as the Assistant Special Teams coach. He moves to Linebackers coach, which is a position he coached at Temple from 1992-93. He also has more than two decades of experience as a head high school coach. Parlavecchio earned second-team All-America honors as a linebacker at Penn State and played two seasons in the NFL.
The 2012 NFL regular season wrapped up a day before the calendar year, and Sunday’s results across the league clarified multiple components of the Titans’ 2013.
Tennessee will pick from the 10th overall spot in the first round of the NFL Draft on April 25th. It will mark the first time in franchise history that the organization has picked from the 10th spot.
The Titans, the Buffalo Bills and the New York Jets each finished with 6-10 records, and the three teams are scheduled to alternate between the eighth, ninth and 10th selections of each round. Tennessee is scheduled to select from the 39th overall spot in the second round and 71st spot in the third round on April 26.
In 2012, the Titans drafted Kendall Wright in the first round with the 20th overall pick, Zach Brown in the second round with the 52ndoverall pick and Mike Martin in the third round with the 82nd overall pick.
In addition to learning when they are scheduled to select next year’s rookies, the Titans also learned their competition for the 16 regular-season games of 2013 (the dates and preseason schedules will be determined).
Tennessee will have home and away contests with AFC South foes Houston, Indianapolis and Jacksonville, and will also host AFC West foes Kansas City and San Diego, NFC West foes Arizona and San Francisco, and the Jets, who finished third in the AFC East standings (as the Titans did this year in the AFC South).
Additionally, the Titans will have road contests against AFC West foes Denver and Oakland and NFC West foes Seattle and St. Louis and AFC North third-place finisher Pittsburgh.
The 2013 scheduled opponents were 124-130-2 in 2012, which is slightly less formidable than the 131-125 mark compiled by Tennessee’s 2012 opponents.
The Tennessee Titans (5-10) conclude their 2012 season this week with a home game against the Jacksonville Jaguars (2-13). Kickoff at LP Field (capacity 69,143) is scheduled for noon CT on Sunday, Dec. 30.
This week will mark the 37th all-time meeting between the Jaguars and Titans, with the Titans holding a 20-16 lead in the series. The three games since the start of the 2011 season have been decided by 13 total points. The Jaguars won last year’s season opener 16-14 in Jacksonville (Sept. 11), followed by the Titans’ 23-17 victory later in the year (Dec. 24).
In the first matchup this season, played in Jacksonville on Nov. 25, the Jaguars prevailed 24-19. Jaguars quarterback Chad Henne passed for 261 yards and a pair of second-half touchdowns, and the Jaguars intercepted two Jake Locker passes late in the fourth quarter to preserve the win.
This week’s game will be televised regionally on CBS, including Nashville affiliate WTVF NewsChannel 5. Don Criqui will handle play-by-play duties while Randy Cross provides analysis.
The Titans Radio Network, including Nashville flagship 104.5 The Zone, will broadcast the game across the Mid-South with the “Voice of the Titans” Mike Keith, color commentator Frank Wycheck, sideline reporter Cody Allison and gameday host Larry Stone.
TITANS LOOK TO CLOSE OUT 2012 WITH A WIN
The final rankings in the AFC South are solidified for 2012. At 12-3, the Texans are the division champions, followed by the 10-5 Indianapolis Colts, who have secured a Wild Card berth. The Titans and Jaguars will finish third and fourth in the division, respectively.
Last week the Titans suffered their 10th loss of the year, falling to the Packers in Green Bay by a final score of 55-7. They scored in the fourth quarter on a two-yard pass from Locker to Kenny Britt.
In his second pro season, Locker has started 10 games. He has completed 168 of 299 passes for 2,024 yards, 10 touchdowns and 11 interceptions and also has 288 yards and a touchdown on 36 rushing attempts. He missed five starts earlier in the season due to a left shoulder injury.
Chris Johnson has rushed for 1,187 yards and five touchdowns on 255 carries in 2012. With 13 more rushing yards this year, he will reach 1,200 for the fourth time in five NFL seasons. Entering the finale Sunday, Johnson is 168 rushing yards from becoming the fourth player in NFL history to reach 7,000 rushing yards within his first five seasons. He would join Eric Dickerson, LaDainian Tomlinson and Emmitt Smith.
The Jaguars are in their first season with new ownership and a new coaching staff. In January, the sale of the franchise from Wayne Weaver to automotive parts magnate Shahid Khan was finalized. A week later, Khan and general manager Gene Smith hired former Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey as the club’s new head coach.
Last week, the Jaguars hosted the New England Patriots and suffered a narrow 23-16 defeat. Henne passed for 348 yards and a touchdown for the Jaguars, and he positioned the Jaguars for the tying score on two separate occasions late in the fourth quarter. However, in both cases, the Patriots intercepted passes near the goal line.
Henne, playing his fourth NFL season, became the starter after second-year quarterback Blaine Gabbert suffered an elbow injury in Week 11. He was signed by the Jaguars as an unrestricted free agent from the Miami Dolphins during the offseason and has passed for 1,786 yards, nine touchdowns and eight interceptions this season.
Jaguars Pro Bowl running back Maurice Jones-Drew has not played since suffering a foot injury on Oct. 21. Prior to his injury, he rushed for 414 yards on 86 carries (4.8 average).
It was sunny and clear, but Tennessee’s mistakes snowballed Sunday in Green Bay.
Locker hit Britt for a gain of 39 and followed with a 2-yard touchdown with 1:39 remaining. The two plays were the only times that the second-year QB and first-year starter connected with the fourth-year receiver on six targets.
Locker finished 13-for-30 for 140 yards passing. His numbers improved in the second half, but they weren’t enough to overtake a first half in which he was 3-for-12 for 35 yards with two interceptions.
“Obviously we didn’t play very well at all today against a team that I thought we would play much better against,” Titans coach Mike Munchak said. “On the offensive side of the ball, we struggled, turned the ball over and missed plays that were there for us. We lost confidence in what we were doing because of having a lot of different guys playing due to injuries. We got behind early and we were forced to throw much more than we wanted to. You aren’t going to win many games when you go three-and-out the first three times and turn the ball over twice against a good football team at home.”
A costly missed opportunity occurred on the first play of the Titans’ second possession. Locker bought time and spotted rookie tight endTaylor Thompson open down the field, but the ball was underthrown. Thompson tried to come back to it and secured it with his hands, but the ball touched the ground.
Tennessee suffered a delay of game penalty before its next play, creating a second-and-15. Locker’s pass on that play was too high forNate Washington, which created one of several third-and-long situations that hurt the Titans.
“It is never easy to lose, especially like this,” Locker said. “You just have to keep working and find ways to overcome it and get better. There are a bunch of things that you can point to today, but it just seemed like there were a lot of opportunities that we didn’t capitalize on today.”
Green Bay outgained Tennessee 210 to 96 yards in the first half and 460 to 180 for the game. The Packers’ offense scored seven touchdowns and their defense recorded seven sacks of Locker.
Green Bay often blitzed against the Titans’ offensive line that has one remaining starter — left tackle Michael Roos — from training camp that hasn’t suffered a season-ending injury this year.
Tennessee’s offensive line had two players — left guard Mitch Petrus and right tackle Byron Stingily — make their first starts of the season. The Titans slid Fernando Velasco back to center after playing the past two games at left guard in place of Steve Hutchinson.
Petrus, who was claimed through waivers Dec. 5, played for the first time in a Titans uniform, and Stingily was a late addition to the lineup for Mike Otto, who replaced injured David Stewart on Dec. 2 but missed Sunday’s game because of illness.
“I don't want to use (the changes) as an excuse, because we're all pros,” Velasco said. “Our coaches did a good job of getting everybody reps, so that isn't an excuse. We just have to execute.”
Tennessee’s first five possessions lasted just three plays each. The Titans failed to convert third-and-11, third and 15 and two third-and-21s in the first quarter. They trailed 14-0 before gaining their first first down on a 22-yard scramble by Locker, who had 32 yards rushing on four carries.
The Packers (11-4) claimed their home finale and won for the ninth time in 10 games. The Titans (5-10) finished their road schedule 2-6 and will close the 2012 season Sunday by hosting Jacksonville (2-13).
RUN GAME STRUGGLES: The Titans’ run game also struggled, netting 79 rush yards on 22 carries. Those numbers were impacted by seven rush plays that gained zero yards or lost yardage.
Chris Johnson left the game briefly in the second quarter after Packers linebacker Clay Matthews landed on him during a tackle. Jamie Harper relieved Johnson, taking reps the following series, and had runs of 13 and 9 yards, but that drive stalled at the Green Bay 31-yard line when Tennessee was unable to convert third-and-1 and fourth-and-1 while trailing 17-0 with more than 10 minutes remaining in the second quarter.
Johnson finished with 28 yards on 11 carries, and Harper had 19 yards on six attempts.
Green Bay, meanwhile, rushed 35 times for 117 yards, including 80 yards and two touchdowns by Ryan Grant, and threw for 343 net passing yards. Rodgers, the reigning NFL MVP, completed 27 of 38 passes for 342 yards with three touchdowns and ran for the Packers’ first touchdown of the game.
MARTIN ADDS SACK: Titans rookie defensive tackle Mike Martin recorded his third sack of the season. Martin dropped Rodgers for a loss of eight to force a punt late in the first quarter, but it was Tennessee’s lone sack of the day as Rodgers’ mobility helped him avoid pressure and he used several three-step drops to quickly get rid of the ball in the second half.