Jim Wyatt, SENIOR WRITER/EDITOR
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Titans have hired veteran coach Todd Downing to coach tight ends.
Downing replaces the spot vacated by Arthur Smith after head coach Mike Vrabel promoted him to offensive coordinator earlier this week.
Downing will arrive with valuable experience, and he’ll inherit a position that’s been very successful in recent years, led by tight end Delanie Walker.
Formerly with the Vikings, Downing just completed his 18th NFL season. He rejoined the Vikings in 2018 as a tight ends coach after previously coaching with the team from 2001-05. In his one season working with tight end Kyle Rudolph, he posted the second highest reception (64) and yardage totals (634) of his eight-year career.
Downing served as the Raiders offensive coordinator in 2017 after previously spending two years as quarterbacks coach. While with the Raiders, Downing worked with quarterback Derek Carr, guiding him to three consecutive Pro Bowls (2015-17).
In Oakland, Downing also worked with Titans receivers coach Rob Moore. He worked alongside Moore in Buffalo as well.
Before joining the Raiders, Downing coached quarterbacks for the Bills in 2014, and he previously coached with the Detroit Lions from 2009-13, first serving as the Lions offensive quality control coach before eventually taking over as quarterbacks coach from 2011-13
In Downing’s three seasons as quarterbacks coach in Detroit, Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford started all 48 games and passed for at least 4,600 yards and 20 touchdowns each year.
Downing served as a defensive assistant and assistant special teams coach with the St. Louis Rams from 2006-07, and in 2008 he was named assistant secondary/defensive quality control coach in St. Louis.
Tight end Delanie Walker is scheduled to return in 2019 after being injured in Week One in 2018.
From 2014-17, Walker produced the top four single-season receiving yardage totals in franchise history among tight ends. His 3,585 receiving yards ranked third in the NFL during that time period and reception total (307) ranked second. With Walker’s injury in the first game of the 2018 season, the group of young tight ends still posted 67 receptions, 750 yards and seven touchdowns.
In 2018, Jonnu Smith made great strides at the position, finishing the season with 20 catches for 258 yards and three touchdowns before being injured.