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Chip Kelly to reunite with Marcus Mariota? Not so fast

With the Tennessee Titans' coach and GM spots open, it's worth revisiting why Ken Whisenhunt was fired in November -- and trying to explain how it could chart the team's course going forward.

Shortly after the change, a high-ranking Titans source put it this way to me: "The quarterbacks are getting hit a lot, and it's exactly what happened last year. We had Jake] Locker on IR, [Zach] Mettenberger on IR. The quarterbacks were getting crushed. And now, Mariota's gotten hit a lot. Mettenberger got killed [against Houston, he was sacked seven times and there wasn't any help in protection. ... We just got done with Locker, and now we have another, and you have to protect the quarterback. Some of it is the offensive line. Some of it is not."

The breaking point, for Titans' upper management, was the coaching staff's decision to leave rookie Jeremiah Poutasi singled on Cameron Wake and J.J. Watt in a 15-day span. The two star defenders combined for 6.5 sacks in those contests. Mariota was injured for the third time in 2015 against Miami. After the Houston game, Watt openly questioned the Titans' decision to leave him alone on a rookie.

So what does this have to do with Tennessee going forward?

Clearly, Mariota's future, and his ability to hold up over the long haul, is a priority for the Titans. And so, there's skepticism in Tennessee's building over the idea that the decision makers there would be willing to bring in Chip Kelly to work with his college quarterback, because the ex-Eagles coach presided over a significant number of QB injuries (Mike Vick, Nick Foles, Sam Bradford) in Philly. The concept of reuniting the two is, of course, exciting to think about, and it'd seem the high-end potential is there. But as the Titans see it, there's serious risk there, too.

Follow Albert Breer on Twitter @AlbertBreer.

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