Buck Reising, Tennessee Titans reporter and host of Tackling Music City, recaps the second installment of the team’s online documentary series, “Igniting the Fire.”
Episode 2: Taking Flight ✈️ is now available on Facebook Watch
— Tennessee Titans (@Titans) June 27, 2018
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee Titans social/digital media guru Nate Bain was one of my guests on Monday’s episode of “Tackling Music City. We discussed, among other things, various ways that the team interacts with its fan base in order to drum up and maintain interest.
Tennessee’s in-house version of “Hard Knocks,” called “Igniting the Fire,” looks to do so during the doldrums of the NFL’s summer vacation period every Tuesday at 7 p.m. CT on TitansOnline.com, Facebook Watch, the team’s app and its Youtube page in the six weeks from June 19 to July 24.
Here are some takeaways from Episode 2:
- Chief among the reasons for the regime change from Mike Mularkey and his staff to Mike Vrabel and Co. was the development, or lack thereof, of quarterback Marcus Mariota. While Episode 2, entitled “Taking Flight,” focused on the 2018 Titans passing game, it would have been useful to hear from the man who will be pulling the trigger on coordinator Matt LaFleur’s new offense. There was no one-on-one with the Heisman Trophy winner from Oregon in Tuesday’s show.
- Mariota’s position coach Pat O’Hara highlighted the episode, in my opinion. Although his insight was brief (Ep. 2’s run time was 14:37), hearing O’Hara (and LaFleur) discuss the acclimation process for Mariota, free-agent addition Blaine Gabbert and rookie Luke Falk into their new system was intriguing.
- What We Learned
- The highlighting of Mariota’s ability to throw effectively off-platform was both interesting and potentially foreshadowing. “Off-platform” refers to the quarterback’s ability to maintain the integrity of his passes if the situation requires him to break from the conventional drop-back, pocket-passing stance. Episode 2 showed several individual and team drill examples of Mariota showcasing this off-platform aptness.
- Also shown was wide receiver Rishard Matthews participating in team drills. This was not something that was observed at offseason practices (organized team activities or mini-camp) open to the media as Matthews was limited and did not participate in team drills on the days that the press were on the field.
- Star of the Show
Second-year wide receiver Corey Davis’s rookie woes have been well-documented at this point so it made sense for the Titans to feature him as the player fans most wanted to hear from in Episode 2.
- Davis was limited in his first offseason in Nashville and missed five games of the 2017 campaign dealing with recurring hamstring issues. His selection as the fifth-overall pick sets expectations high as he transitions into a new season. The Western Michigan product, though, has never been particularly forthcoming in his public comments and was not any more insightful in “Igniting the Fire.”
- Davis has no one to answer to yet and should be viewed with more optimism than doubt, given the highlight reel plays he flashed when on the field. His comments in the episode were unsatisfying but expected from a young player who has faced adversity and scrutiny early in his career.
- Hard Knock-Off
- One of my primary questions when Tennessee first revealed the “Igniting the Fire” concept was how, if at all, would the online mini-series differ from HBO’s “Hard Knocks.” The HBO product is fine and draws NFL fans in annually, regardless of which franchise is being featured that year, but some of the cliches that the show traffics in grow more tiresome as they are so often repeated.
- If the first two episodes of “Igniting the Fire” are to be any indication, it seems the Titans video product will stick to the same tired themes. Episode 2 opened as any other football documentary might: a shot of a Wilson football resting on the grass, flipped to a slow-motion clip of a quarterback lining up under his center, followed by a wide shot of the practice facility before dawn in a time lapse to midday with the sprinklers running on the fields before the team descends upon them.
- To be fair, I am not entirely how much more creative one can get in the making of a football documentary.