Some insight from Titans WR coach Fred Graves

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In the offseason, the Titans lost two of their top three wide receivers from a year ago. Brandon Jones, who led the WR corps in 2008 with 41 receptions, went to the 49ers in free agency. Hope you enjoy the money, BJ. Justin McCareins was third among the wideouts with 30 receptions and was not re-signed.
 
To replace them, the Titans added free agent Nate Washington and first-round draft pick Kenny Britt.
 
It begs the question, are the Titans better off with the changes or not as well off?
 
This afternoon, Tennessee receivers coach Fred Graves stated the Titans WRs corps is better off with Washington and Britt, saying the group now has a lot more speed. Personally, I believe that will help the entire offense, primarily Chris Johnson and Justin Gage. Of course, Bo Scaife and LenDale White will benefit as well. All of which ought to make Mike Heimerdinger and Kerry Collins very happy.

Graves also talked about rookie receivers in general and it seemed to me like he didn’t expect a lot out of them, that it was a steep learning curve for them as a whole. Rookie receivers usually have to learn three times as many plays in the NFL as they did in college, said Graves. He also said another big adjustment for them was learning to read coverages.
 
In college, especially with the proliferation of spread offenses in recent years, Graves said, WRs didn’t really need to read coverages. I’m a little surprised he didn’t say anything about them learning to get off the line but perhaps he simply felt that was a given.
 
Also left unsaid was that college receivers tended to get by on their athleticism and natural ability. Graves did stress the importance of route-running, however.
 
As his bio indicates, Graves has coached some fine receivers in his lengthy career. Among his pupils in college were former Titan Kevin Dyson and Carolina Panthers’ All-Pro Steve Smith. In Buffalo, he coached Eric Moulds, Peerless Price and Josh Reed, who put up some gaudy stats in 2002.
 
Graves is probably best known by Titans fans for a drill in which he makes his guys catch bricks that he throws at them. One thing most fans don’t know is how Graves got the job as Tennessee’s receivers coach. After a vacancy was created when Ray Sherman left, Steve Smith sought out Jeff Fisher at the Indianapolis combine to highly recommend Graves for the job. When a star of Smith’s caliber recommends his former college coach, that says something.
 
I imagine Fisher listened to Smith and that he also contacted Dyson and former Titans DC and Bills HC Gregg Williams for their input. I’m also confident they gave Graves glowing recommendations.
 
I like Graves. Fred’s a good coach, and not just because he’s had some good players. For that matter, I also liked Sherman, who I thought was particularly good with the rookies in 2005.
 
What’s your opinion about Graves and his ability as a coach? I’m interested in hearing what you have to say.
 
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4 Responses to “Some insight from Titans WR coach Fred Graves”

  1. Scott Says:

    So far so good for Graves. It is a little too early to tell how good he is though. I am interested in seeing what he can do this coming year. We all know that he hasn’t exactly been given the greatest group of receivers to work with. Justin McCareins and Brandon Jones didn’t remind anyone of Stallworth and Swan (or even Mason and Bennett for that matter). At least this season, he has three receivers – in Gage, Washington and Britt – that have solid potential and can be molded, I think, into a pretty good group.

  2. Andrew Strickert Says:

    I believe you’re right, Scott. Graves did a good job with Gage and I’m optimistic about what he can do with Washington and Britt. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  3. Bob Loblaw Says:

    Hey Andrew, nice post. l think Heimerdinger’s high level of involvement with the receivers should help Graves’ cause, but like Scott, I must reserve judgement for a couple of years until he has had some time to work with NFL-caliber talent at the position.
    A bit off topic, but in your opinion, how much of an upgrade is Washington over Jones? There seems to be a good deal of hope/optimism that he will become a solid #2 who can stretch the field – a sentiment that the Titans’ front office seems to share in light of his compensation. I do know that along with his speed, he has a reputation for dropping passes, a reputation which was reportedly reinforced in May OTAs. It is my understanding that he has primarily played out of the slot in 3 receiver packages, so I am curious to find out how good he is at beating the press when lining up outside.
    I haven’t seen enough of him to form what I would consider an informed opinion, so what are your thoughts? Is he worth 6-27 as compared to Jones’ 5-16? Tom and Drex feel free to chime in with your thoughts too. Thanks guys!

  4. Andrew Strickert Says:

    Thanks, Bob. You’ve inspired me to write something that I’ve felt for a while but haven’t written about yet. I’ll try to knock something off tonight if possible, if not, then tomorrow. Please stay tuned, but in the meantime, the short answer is he could be a pretty big upgrade. Thanks again for the inspiration.

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