Every year, NFL Network insider Tom Pelissero releases a list of assistant coaches to watch when it comes to head-coach openings in the following offseason and in the years that follow.
On this year’s list, which featured a ton of names, five Tennessee Titans coaches made the cut, highlighted by defensive coordinator Shane Bowen, who was mentioned as a coach to watch for the upcoming hiring cycle.
Here’s what Pelissero had to say about Bowen, who he notes is “well-regarded” around the league:
A former Georgia Tech linebacker whose playing career ended early because of injury, Bowen is now in his eighth season as an NFL coach and third as Tennessee’s defensive play-caller. Titans head coach Mike Vrabel has a defensive background and has input on everything in the building, but Bowen runs the show on his side of the ball, from game planning to installs to meetings. Despite personnel challenges and a slim margin for error due to offensive struggles, Tennessee’s defense remains a top-10 unit in points allowed. And Bowen is well-regarded within the league.
Along with Bowen, outside linebackers coach Ryan Crow, defensive pass game coordinator and cornerbacks coach Chris Harris, offensive coordinator Tim Kelly and run game coordinator and running backs coach Justin Outten were listed as coaches to watch in cycles beyond 2024.
It’s true the Titans sport a top-10 scoring defense, but that does not tell the story of the unit’s disappointing performance overall this season.
Tennessee’s pass-rush has been inconsistent and disappeared at times, the secondary is a sieve and even the once-elite run defense has gone by the wayside — and those issues won’t help some of the coaches under Bowen, either.
Of course, Bowen deserves at least some credit for the defensive success the team saw in 2021 and 2022, but many wonder if former senior defensive assistant Jim Schwartz, who is now running an elite defense with the Cleveland Browns, is the one who deserves more.
Whatever the case may be, I don’t see Bowen landing a head coach job in the upcoming cycle, barring an epic turnaround from the Titans and their defense; although, I do think he could get an interview.
As for the rest of the coaches, Harris and Crow will almost certainly need stints as coordinators first before they can set their sights on bigger things, which puts them a few years away, at least, from being considered
Outten has had an offensive coordinator job before, but that was with the awful 2022 Denver Broncos and he only called plays for a few games.
Kelly is further ahead of those three, seeing as how he’s in his second stint as an offensive coordinator in the NFL. However, his first season in charge of Tennessee’s offense has not gone too well, which will make 2024 a crucial campaign for his hopes of one day becoming a head coach.