Titans owner saw no need to wait to fire general manager
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Amy Adams Strunk’s evaluation of Jon Robinson’s performance as the Titans’ general manager never stopped, and the Tennessee controlling owner said Friday she saw no reason to wait once she decided her franchise needed a change.
No matter how difficult that was.
“At the end of the day, I’ve got to make hard decisions,” Strunk told The Associated Press in an exclusive interview.
“Once I made the decision, I was like, ’I can’t sit on it. I’ve got to go ahead and do it to be fair to Jon.′ I don’t know how many weeks we have left in the season. There could be a lot more hopefully in our season, and it just didn’t seem like the right thing to do to drag this along.”
Strunk fired Robinson on Tuesday despite the general manager never posting worse than a 9-7 record and going 69-47 with six straight winning seasons. That’s second in the NFL only to Kansas City’s streak of 10 consecutive winning records.
The Titans (7-5) are on target for a third straight AFC South title.
The owner who took over the franchise in March 2015 and consolidated her hold on the franchise in 2020 said she studied past seasons, rosters, draft choices and free agency moves to make her decision.
And no, seeing former Tennessee wide receiver A.J. Brown have a good game last week in a 35-10 win against her Titans played no part in firing Robinson.
“I’d already made my decision,” Strunk said. “A.J. had a great game. More power to him, but that didn’t actually have anything to do with that.”
Strunk said she couldn’t ignore the holes on a roster that has used 76 different players this season after setting an NFL-record with 91 different players last season.
Tennessee has lost three straight playoff games, the last two at home. Strunk said she wants the Super Bowl that eluded her late father, Bud Adams, who founded the franchise in Houston.
“I told the fans from the very beginning that I want to win it all and I want to be one of those elite teams that people are always scared of, and it’s my responsibility,” Strunk said. “And eventually it’s up to me to make those kind of decisions that get us there.”
Robinson, hired in January 2016, completely rebuilt a team that went 5-27 combined in 2014 and 2015. He earned a contract extension along with coach Mike Vrabel in February after earning the AFC’s No. 1 seed last season with a 12-5 record.
Among his best moves? Trading for quarterback Ryan Tannehill in March 2019 and drafting two-time NFL rushing champion Derrick Henry and two-time All-Pro safety Kevin Byard.
But Robinson never signed one of his first-round draft picks to a second contract.
In 2018, the Titans cut linebacker Kevin Dodd, the 33rd pick overall in 2016. They suspended the offensive lineman drafted No. 29 overall out of Georgia in 2020 to help replace Jack Conklin, who was allowed to walk in free agency. Isaiah Wilson played only four snaps before being traded after his rookie season.
Robinson drafted cornerback Caleb Farley at No. 22 in 2021 weeks after a second back surgery and having been the first college player to opt out of the 2020 season during the pandemic. Farley’s first two seasons ended with him on injured reserve. Second-round pick Dillon Radun lost the starting right tackle job this summer to rookie Nicholas Petit-Frere.
Linebacker Vic Beasley lasted five games as a free agent signing bust in 2020, the same season linebacker Jadeveon Clowney’s one season ended on injured reserve.
Strunk dismissed a couple topics that have circulated since the firing:
— Vrabel did not issue any ultimatum to Strunk about Robinson.
— That stunning trade of Brown during the first round of the April draft? Strunk was in the draft room and fully aware of the ongoing negotiations with Brown’s agent leading up to the draft.
Ryan Cowden, the vice president of player personnel, is overseeing personnel in the interim and has been a candidate for GM openings along with Monti Ossenfort, director of player personnel. The Titans sent Brian Gardner, director of pro scouting, to the NFL meeting in May promoting minority candidates for front office jobs.
Strunk said she’s willing to wait, even past the Super Bowl if that’s what it takes, to hire the right person as the next general manager. Vrabel will have input, as he did with Robinson. But Strunk said coaching and being general manager are jobs that require a person’s full attention.
Her biggest key?
“To get that right person in the job,” Strunk said.
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