Interview: Titans Radio's Larry Stone
By Jeff Fuqua
Posted March 22nd, 2006

Over the next few weeks, will interview a number of the media who cover the Tennessee Titans. Our second interview is with Larry Stone, executive producer and gameday host of the Tennessee Titans Radio Network.

What is your opinion on the recent free agency moves by the Titans and what other positions or players may be considered before the end of free agency?
Baseball season is around the corner -- so I will say it's been a grand slam. The Titans got proven players, veteran leadership, and guys that know how to win -- I think combined, the players have just five losing seasons. That's huge for a Titans team that's won nine games in two years. It's a collection of lots of little things that go into winning. These vets can show the younger Titans just that. I think every position remains up for grabs. What Floyd Reese and Jeff Fisher are working on now is seeing if can they trade dollars -- is this free agent better than the player on the roster at the same price?
How do you feel the Steve McNair contract situation will be resolved and what terms and amount can he expect in a new contract if one is reached?
The Titans hold all the marbles on this one -- and they can let it play out as they want. Most likely scenario to me: they decide internally what they want to do with the number three pick. If one of the quarterbacks can be a franchise quarterback, they can go to Steve and talk about the future. Would he like to be the starter in 06 and a backup in 07? If so, here's what we're willing to pay. Would Steve just like to play 06 as the starter and retire? We may be willing to just leave the number where it is. If they do not believe any of the three is a franchise quarterback, they have to look at their total package of quarterbacks and see where they go. Do they draft a guy in the second round and use Steve for two years as the starter?
What changes do you think Norm Chow will make to the offense to increase production in '06?  
Run the ball. Run the ball. Run the ball. I will be very surprised if the Titans are not as dedicated as we have seen them in nine seasons at running the football effectively. That's the biggest way they can be more competitive more quickly. Norm will also work on using guys like Ben Troupe to create matchup issues. That's the key to Norm's approach: finding mismatches and you need playmakers to do that. David Givens will help both himself and by allowing Drew to be more productive.
Will Jim Schwartz look to do anything defensively from a scheme standpoint to be more effective stopping the run?
The Titans will be more athletic with their linebackers and safeties in 2006 and that should help with the run problems. In '05, the Titans simply were not fast enough to compensate for a missed tackle. If the first guy missed, the runner would be gone. Expect to see the Titans swarm to the football.
Who do you feel GM Floyd Reese will consider with pick #3 and why? How likely is a trade out and what would it take for Reese to be willing to do a trade?
Who? Anyone that can make the Titans better short-term and long-term. I know that sounds cliche but none of us have any sense of how they evaluate these guys and what they truly like. That's the key. With the Saints deal with Drew Brees, I don't think a trade is as likely as it was. New Orleans should be in the best spot to get out. Watch the Raiders. No quarterback yet. Could be they have their eye on someone?
What would you consider the top draft needs the Titans will look to fill through the NFL draft beyond the first pick? Any particular player which the Titans have shown more than usual interest in?
Quarterback is obvious. Linebackers would seem to be an early and often position -- and luckily, this is a good year at that spot. If they could find a really top-notch defensive end early Saturday, I would not be surprised to see them go there. You always consider corners. Safety would seem to be an area they might consider. Would not expect them to look at wide recivers this year -- in fact, it wouldn't surprise me if they did not draft any.
With both Fisher and Reese nearing the end of their current contracts and with back-to-back losing seasons, what record will the Titans need in '06 in order to save their jobs?
I think they need to be in the 6-9 win area but more important than the record, the Titans need to be competitive, in every game, and a thorn in the backside of the rest of the division. We also need to see genuine improvement from young players. I think Fisher and Reese have added the pieces to do that. The problem is the schedule is very tough. The NFC East is strong top to bottom. The Jags and Colts haven't fallen off and the Texans should finally have the record to match their talent. The Titans will have to be a considerably better football team to have a better record.
Which current Titans showed the most improvement towards the close of the 2005 season and may make the biggest jump in production next season?
It's time for Odom and LaBoy to turn those glimpses of something special into something special. We saw bits and pieces, and the coaching staff thought both were ready to jump. This is a key year for both.
Many players indicated at the end of the '05 season that the Titans had some locker room issues and that the team lacked discipline and leadership. How will Fisher & Co get that resolved?
Leadership comes from within. In reality, there's very little the coaches can do beyond setting basic rules. Where the Titans were lacking in 2005 was group leaders throughout the locker room. Age and the cap purge have sent guys like Bruce Matthews, Blaine Bishop, Kevin Carter, Eddie George, Frank Wycheck packing. The Titans don't need a rah-rah, NFL Films-speech maker. They need the veteran offensive lineman to tell his co-horts in the o-line meeting room to shut up and listen. The same is true in every position group. I think the guys the Titans added can do that. Kyle Vanden Bosch can do that. Drew Bennett is doing that.
Though it is early, what would you predict as the final regular season record for the Titans in 2006? How will the AFC South play out? And how long until the Titans are playoff contenders again?
The Titans are a 7-9, 8-8 team in 2006 that beats a couple of teams you did not think they could. With a good draft pick at number three, the development of young players this year, and some free agent fine tuning next March, they are a solid contender again in 2007.

Larry Stoneoversees all aspects of the on-air product at Titans Radio including eight hours of game day coverage on the 70+ stations in seven states covered. Stone also serves as host of the gameday broadcast, working closely with the team of Mike Keith and Frank Wycheck. You can read his commentary on here.

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