The anticipation and buzz surrounding the 2016 version of the Tennessee Titans has been growing since the announcement of the hiring of Jon Robinson as the general manager, it took a bit of a downturn with the announcement of the hiring of Mike Mularkey as the head coach as people openly questioned the wisdom of that decision.
Since that time however, the additions of the free-agent class, the trade for DeMarco Murray and the addition of the rookie class that included first round pick in offensive tackle Jack Conklin and running back Derrick Henry have sent the excitement level to a point we have not seen around Nashville in several years.
All those moves have excited the fan base in hopes of a better day, but even those things are no guarantee that this season will see the Titans make a major improvement on the field.
Fans have also sat intently to follow those of us in the media who have witnessed the teams OTA and mini-camp practices for our thought on how the team is taking shape early in the process.
Obviously opinions on various things differ from person to person depending on who you ask, but the general consensus from myself and my fellow media members is that the Titans have shown a new level of excitement and intensity in their work so far. There is a new vibe around the team and in the locker room as there have been changes throughout the organization, including a totally remodeled locker room and a new practice bubble that is currently under construction.
Owner Amy Adams-Strunk has shown a new commitment to this team to upgrade the facilities along with the talent and on-field product. She has purchased a home in Nashville, thought it will not be her full time residence, it is still a step fans had craved. She has been a regular figure around St. Thomas Sports Park during the draft among other times including speaking to the entire team on the practice field on the last day of mini-camp.
It is a stark contrast from what we saw from ownership of late following the death of the teams founder Bud Adams, and it is what this team and city needed and Adams-Strunk and company are producing.
Things are still not perfect, and there certainly will be other rocky moments to come, but ownership is taking the steps to make this team competitive in the NFL. It's now up to the coaches to put their plan into action and for the players to produce on the field.
Of course it starts with Marcus Mariota, the second year quarterback who has shown the potential to be a true franchise quarterback this team has been lacking- with all do respect to Kerry Collins, Vince Young and Jake Locker who all had their moments under center- since the late Steve McNair controlled the Titans offense.
Mariota's development this season, along with that of some of his fellow second year players and this rookie class will set the table for the near future.
Older players like Taylor Lewan and Chance Warmack must take their step forward to lead the offensive line, while veterans Brian Orakpo, Derrick Morgan, Jurrell Casey and Jason McCourty must stay healthy and lead the defense this season.
If that core group can produce at a high level then this could very well be a fun team to watch.
Of course Robinson has the Titans set up for next season with two first round picks, or draft capital as he calls it to play with in further reshaping the roster in 2017. That's still a long way away, but it is all part of what the Titans front office has done in just one short off season to reshape things in Nashville.
The road likely still has some bumps, and this season might not be a good one record wise, but there is certainly reason for optimism and hope for a brighter future.