We’ll be looking at the Tennessee Titans today, as we continue our look at all 32 NFL Teams. The Titans haven’t made a playoff appearance since 2008. They had the best record in the NFL that year, but lost to the Ravens in the Divisional Round. Mike Munchak has since taken over the coaching duties for the organization. Going into his 3rd season as Head Coach, he has his hands full with a team that ranked 27th in Total Defense and 26th in Total Offense.
Offense: The Titans need Jake Locker to step up and be the franchise Quarterback they thought they drafted in 2011. Locker has only started 11 games, which all came last season, and has to improve on his 55% career completion percentage. If Locker is going to succeed this season, he must improve in the accuracy and decision-making departments. One position where the Titans don’t need drastic improvement is at Running Back. Chris Johnson is always a threat to take it to the house on any given play, and has averaged 4 yards a carry every season he’s been in the league. To compliment Chris, Tennessee brought in Shonn Greene via Free Agency. He will play the roll of the pounding back as he did for the Jets. If I were the Titans, I would make sure that those two players account for 60-70% of the Offense, as question marks surround the Quarterback. Looking at the Wide Receivers, you must start with Kenny Britt. Britt has shown potential to be one of the top Receivers the NFL has to offer, but he has never been able to piece together a full 16-game season. Britt called 2012 the worst season of his career. He never showed the same explosiveness he had before his 2011 ACL and MCL tears. In the Draft, the Titans picked up Receiver Justin Hunter, who many argued had a better combine than any other player. Hunter is a 6’4″ target who had 73 catches for 1,083 yards and 9 touchdowns for the Volunteers last season. Justin also runs an incredible 4.44 40-yard dash and can jump out of the stadium, as he was the winner of the 2010 USA Junior high jump competition. If Britt can return to old form, he, Hunter, and Kendall Wright will make a great trio of Wide Receivers. Nate Washington, who was the teams leading Receiver in yards last year, is in the mix as well. An honorable mention, that could be key for Tennessee on 3rd downs, is 11-year veteran Kevin Walter who had always been a reliable target for the Houston Texans, and was brought in through free agency. The only way the Receivers will improve on their 22nd-ranked passing offense though, is all on the Quarterback. The Tight Ends aren’t that deep in talent. Tennessee brought in Delanie Walker from free agency to try and solidify the position with experience and skill. Walker comes from the NFC Champion 49ers and has been in the shadow of Vernon Davis, so he never had a chance with the 1st Team Offense. The Offensive Line for the Titans is going to be the best they have had in years. With the signing of highly sought after free agent Guard Andy Levitre to go along with Michael Roos and David Stewart, Tennessee was off to a good start improving the line. When the NFL Draft came along, they also added two of the more impressive interior Offensive Lineman in Guard Chance Warmack and Center Brian Schwenke. If those names can come into the 2013 season healthy, and play all 16 games, they’ll be close to being a top 10 Offensive Line in the NFL. The key to their whole season is going to be the play-action pass. Those big bodies on the line are going to have to win in the trenches for the Running Backs to reach their full effectiveness. If that can be accomplished, the threat of the passing game is going to increase, if the Quarterback can be accurate.
Defense: The Defense ranked 27th in the NFL last season, but ranked 5th, 7th, and 14th the 3 previous. Derrick Morgan and Kamerion Wimbley lead the Defensive Line. Morgan is looking to become a force after having a career high 6.5 sacks last season. Wimbley is looking to return to the force he once was, as he posted his lowest sack number (6) since 2008. Defensive Tackle, Jurrell Casey, had an impressive season last year with 54 tackles, 3 sacks and 2 forced fumbles. Those numbers were almost identical to his rookie season. If Casey can continue this trend, he’ll be on his way to becoming one of the better Defensive Tackles in the NFL. He’ll be joined at the starting Tackle position by Sammie Hill, free agent from the Detroit Lions. Even though the Line has a nice array of talent, the Linebackers might be the strongest point of this Defense. Akeem Ayers had a remarkable second season to his career, combining for 104 tackles with 8 pass deflections, 6 sacks, 1 interception and a forced fumble. Just as remarkable as Ayers’ season, was Zach Brown’s rookie year. Brown posted 93 combined tackles with 5.5 sacks, 3 interceptions, a forced fumble and 2 defensive touchdowns. Colin McCarthy joins them, who has been plagued by injures, and only was healthy enough for 7 games last season. McCarthy has the skills to be an elite Middle Linebacker in the NFL, but needs to stay healthy. The Secondary is the weakest link to this Defense. Free Safety, Michael Griffin, is always consistent and has posted 468 combined tackles with 21 interceptions, in his 6-year career. Jason McCourty is becoming consistent for the Defensive Backs as well; he’s had 156 solo tackles and 6 interceptions in the past 2 seasons alone. McCourty seems to get stronger every year, so I expect 2013 to be his best. In an attempt to sure up the Defense, the Titans brought in Bernard Pollard for Strong Safety. Pollard adds a hard-hitting presence that will definitely be felt this year. They also brought in veteran George Wilson for the Strong Safety position, but I feel he was more of an insurance policy in case of injury, and will be more of a factor on special teams. Numerous players will be fighting for the number 2 Cornerback slot with names such as Alterraun Verner, Coty Sensabaugh, Tommy Campbell, Khalid Wooten and Blidi Wreh-Wilson. Wilson was the 70th overall pick out of Connecticut, and Wooten was the 202 from Nevada. This is a very young Defense for the most part. The talent they have accrued over the past few seasons gives them a good chance to return to their top ranked Defensive days.
End Result: I don’t have a lot of faith for this team in the main position it takes to win in the NFL, the Quarterback. I feel they won’t win too many games and will finish with a 4-12 record.