For a few years, the Tennessee Titans were among the best teams in football. Between 2019 and 2021, Tennessee went 32-17 -- good for the league's sixth-best record. That stretch included two AFC South titles and an appearance in the AFC Championship Game.
Last season, though, the Titans slumped to a 7-10 record, their worst mark since the 2015 season. It was the first time they had posted either a losing record or a negative point differential under head coach Mike Vrabel.
This offseason has been a year of change. After hiring a new general manager in former 49ers executive Ran Carthon, the Titans allowed players like David Long, Nate Davis, Mario Edwards, DeMarcus Walker, Robert Woods, and Bud Dupree to leave in free agency. They drafted a player they hope is their next franchise quarterback in Will Levis. They began to rebuild their offensive line by drafting Peter Skoronski. And they added players from other teams who had previously played smaller roles, in the hopes that they'll flourish in larger ones (Azeez Al-Shaair, Sean Murphy-Bunting, Luke Gifford, Andre Dillard, Arden Key, and more).
But they're not rebuilding. At least, not according to star defensive lineman Jeffery Simmons.
"I don't look it as we're rebuilding," Simmons said Wednesday, per NFL Media. "I like to win. I'm not looking to go and lose any games just because we're all of a sudden rebuilding. I think what we're doing right now … we're trying to build something here in Tennessee, and that's the winning culture. We're trying to build a winning culture and our foundation of it, the way we want to play. Of course, the guys who've been around, they kinda knew what we expect here in Tennessee, but mainly the new guys that (are) coming in -- I felt like we had some great signings -- them guys have bought in already to what we expect here in Tennessee and the way coach (Mike) Vrabel want us to play here in Tennessee."
Simmons, who is coming off back-to-back Pro Bowl and second team All-Pro campaigns during which he has totaled 16 sacks, 21 tackles for loss, and 30 quarterback hits, knows the 2022 season did not work out the way the Titans wanted it to. He just views the changes as moving forward, not backward.
"I don't look at it as a rebuilding. I look at it as another opportunity to come back this year to finish our season off the way it was supposed to have been last year," Simmons said. "The way we finished last year wasn't what we wanted it to be. We didn't finish the way I wanted it to be, especially being the leader and captain. That's not who we are in Tennessee. I'm looking forward to this season. I'm not looking forward to no rebuild season. I'm looking forward to winning."