NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Jerry Gray and Dowell Loggains have enjoyed the chess match.
Gray, the Titans defensive coordinator, and Loggains, who is in his first full year as offensive coordinator, have been able to match wits throughout Tennessee’s nine-week offseason program.
|Offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains, above, has enjoyed the opportunity to match wits with defensive coordinator Jerry Gray, below, and senior defensive assistant Gregg Williams this offseason.|
The opportunities increased this week as coach Mike Munchak opted for simulated games as opposed to scripted practices to see how players and coaches would respond on the fly.
Loggains said he enjoys the opportunity to work across from Gray and senior defensive assistant Gregg Williams and joked that the offense has come out on top of his scoreboard “every day.”
“You know competition always brings out the best in people it brings out the best in coaches,” Loggains said. “I know I want to beat Gregg and Jerry as bad as they want to beat us.”
Munchak said he thinks the coaching competition will make everyone better and give the staff useful material for self-assessment to identify strengths and weaknesses to guide them when everyone returns for training camp and the pads go on next month.
“I think that was a big part of making us better as a staff, challenging each other on a daily basis and not just with the players but the coaches also,” Munchak said. “(I’m putting) myself in situations in two-minute, making timeouts or going for it so they get to know your philosophy. I think Dowell and Jerry and Gregg, that's a great competition with them because our defense has some great packages that the offense has to be ready for, and that's just going to help us be better when we play Pittsburgh.”
Titans players and coaches have valued the offseason program because it’s allowed the time to install philosophical changes on offense and experiment with multiple packages and personnel groupings on defense. Each side has noticed changes in the other.
“There’s definitely a difference in the swagger or the attitude of the team that I’m sure comes with every Gregg Williams defense or every team that he’s been a part of,” Loggains said. “There’s definitely a confidence and a swagger that this group has that maybe the group last year didn’t have.”
Locker, who’s shown signs of a full recovery from surgery on his left, non-throwing shoulder, said the speed of the defense has impressed him.
“They're playing really fast, especially the guys up front,” Locker said. “The guys that are rushing are making things happen really quick. On the back end (in the secondary), they're doing a good job of holding rotation late and finding ways of disguising what they're doing and not tipping you off too early.”
Gray said he likes the way Tennessee’s offense is trying to use the entire field from sideline to sideline and end zone to end zone.
“They’re going to make you defend the whole field. A lot of teams don’t do that but they’re going to challenge you,” Gray said. “You’re not going to say, ‘Hey, I’m going to play half the field and then I’m going to rest the other half.’ That’s what I really like is they’re attacking the whole football field, keeping everybody honest and even on the backside of what you are doing. Good teams do that. and hopefully we can keep doing that and Jake can keep getting better and eventually that’s going to be what we’re good at because, to me, when Jake is good and the offense is good the defense is going to be better and if we put it together, then we have a good team.”
“When I first got here, Dowell was a quality control guy. Now he’s out there calling plays and stuff,” Griffin said. “I mean looking at our offense, they look so much different, a quicker-paced offense. You’ve got a two, three-running back system over there with
It bodes well for more intense matches in training camp, Griffin said.
“The offense looks totally different compared to last year,” Griffin said, “and defense, Gregg Williams is getting after us and we just constantly talk and communicate and are playing with a lot more enthusiasm than we have in the past.”