Ah yes…Thanksgiving. A time for food, family, and football. Most importantly, it’s a time to take a moment and reflect on all of the things that you’re thankful for.
And for the Tennessee Titans organization and fan base, I am sure that the Philadelphia Eagles are at the top of their list.
This time last year the Titans were in transition…and disarray. Then-head coach Ken Whisenhunt had been let go a couple of weeks prior, leaving interim head coach Mike Mularkey left to pick up the pieces of an otherwise dreadful season.
Who knew that a few months later, the Eagles would hold the keys to the quick turnaround that the Titans are enjoying today?
It started in April, when NFL information guru Adam Scheftner reported that the Eagles had traded 2014 NFL Offensive Player of the Year, running back DeMarco Murray, to Tennessee for what amounts now to a pair of cleats and some ankle tape.
Essentially, Philly gave the Titans their first 1,000 yard rusher since 2013, and Murray has accomplished that feat in just eleven games.
Murray’s presence on offense gave the Titans instant credibility, and made life easier for second year quarterback Marcus Mariota. His professionalism and work ethic was noticed immediately, and spread throughout the locker room.
At the rate that he is going, Murray is a lock to earn Pro Bowl Honors, and First Team All Pro honors is well within his reach as well.
Not bad for a measly fourth round pick in return…but the Eagles were not done with their generosity.
A few months later Philadelphia helped the Titans once again by taking their inconsistent 2015 second round project, wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham, off their hands in exchange for veteran offensive lineman Dennis Kelly.
DGB had fallen out of favor in Tennessee, and was buried on the first official depth chart released by the Titans during this year’s training camp. With what we’re seeing out of Rishard Matthews, Tajae Sharpe, and Kenndall Wright, it’s hard to image Green-Beckham being anything more than a healthy scratch each week.
Meanwhile, Kelly’s acquisition has already paid dividends for Tennessee.
The versatile backup filled in for left tackle Taylor Lewan two weeks ago against the Green Bay Packers (when Lewan got himself ejected early in the contest), and the offensive line didn’t miss a beat.
Kelly is rumored to assume the starting duties this Sunday in Chicago if Lewan’s knee injury causes him to miss time.
Again, another slanted trade that favored Tennessee.
And in a six degrees of separation type of way, the Titans can also thank Philadelphia for the acquisition of their first round pick, right tackle Jack Conklin.
The Eagles stuck a deal with the Cleveland Browns to move up to the second pick in the draft, and as a result, the Browns dropped to the eighth spot.
Tennessee, who had dropped behind both teams in the draft by trading away their own first round pick, struck a deal with Cleveland to move up and select Conklin eighth overall.
With teams ahead of them needing offensive line help as well, there is no guarantee that Conklin would have been there when the Titans were on the clock.
In return, Tennessee drafted a rookie that has been a day one starter while playing lights out this season. He gave up his first sack of the year last week in Indianapolis, and has played every offensive snap this season.
Head coach Mike Mularkey told the media today at his weekly press conference that practice will be cut short tomorrow so that the players and staff can enjoy the annual feast with their families.
When they bow their heads, I am sure that a special thank you will go out to the city of brotherly love.