The Tennessee Titans’ players and fans have enjoyed an extended honeymoon with general manager Jon Robinson and the ideals he brought from New England after several successful seasons in their front office.
New England’s approach to the game is simply known as….the Patriot Way.
When casual fans hear that term they immediately think of sustained excellence over a long period of time. They think of smart, tough, versatile players. And most of all, they think of championships.
Lots and lots of championships.
Not a bad ideal to adopt if you’re a franchise that has never hoisted the Lombardi Trophy.
The Patriot Way South, as it is affectionately called in the Bible Belt region, has been largely successful for the Titans since Robinson was brought on board in January 2016.
Two of his first three draft picks (Jack Conklin, Kevin Byard) already have All Pro selections under their belt. And the other roster moves by Robinson (which icluded an influx of former Patriots) transformed the Titans from a team that was 5-27 in 2014 and 2015 to back to back winning seasons in 2016 and 2017.
Not to mention the team’s first playoff victory in nearly a decade last season.
But there is more to the Patriot Way than just winning games. It is also known as a cold and calculating business mindset spearheaded by Bill Belichik, the head coach and overseer of New England’s personnel.
There has been a laundry list of talented players that helped the Patriots win championships, only to find themselves shipped off or released while still in the prime of their careers.
Part of the organizational dysfunction the Patriots are dealing with now stems from Belichik wanting to part ways with Tom Brady last season.
Yes, that Tom Brady.
As it relates to the Patriot Way South, it should come as no surprise that Robinson and the front office have been dragging their feet on a lucrative contract extension for their two-time Pro Bowl left guard Taylor Lewan.
The 11th pick of the 2014 draft has quickly ascended to become one of the elite tackles in all of football, and feels that he should be compensated accordingly.
Rather than risk injury while playing for just over nine million dollars this season, Lewan has elected to skip mandatory mini-camp this week in hopes of lighting a fire under what has been lukewarm negotiations between his representatives and the team.
Ah yes, the dreaded holdout.
While there is plenty of time to get a deal done before training camp, and conventional wisdom suggests that it will get done, it’s worth noting that holding out could be viewed as a bullying tactic.
And with everything we’ve seen in New England over the last 15 years, the Patriot Way doesn’t appear to cave in to bullying. Randy Moss was jettisoned after a career year in which the Patriots had an undefeated regular season.
No raise for Moss, just a one-way ticket out of town.
Again, that shouldn’t be the case with Lewan, but the franchise is now in uncharted water. We have no clue how Robinson will handle this situation as a first time GM entering his third season.
Things could get ugly if there is a precedence at stake.
We have to remember that the NFL is first and foremost a business, and no one has handled their business better than the Patriots.
If Titans fans can chant “In Jon We Trust” when he brings in talent, then they must be patient when it comes to making the tough decisions that will have ripple effects for years to come.
After all, even with the cold and calculating way they do business, the Patriot Way has led to Super Bowl Rings.
A holdout here and there is a small price to pay for the Titans to ultimately emulate that type of success.