[editor's note, by River City Rage] I know I've already done an analysis of the Titans, but I'm home sick today and attempting to learn some new HTML and try some new tricks. I'll be doing a whole series like this, so pay no mind to the extra Titans attention...
|AFC South Record|
|Nick Harper, Michael Griffen|
|Just about every offensive skill position, and a little known Cornerback named Adam Jones...|
|The Titans Lost Three key players on offense: Drew Bennett, Bobby Wade and Travis Henry. Drew Bennett caught 46 balls for 737 yards and 3 touchdowns. Wade was good for 33 catches, 461 yards, and 2 touchdowns. In the air game, that's 43% of their total passes, now on other teams. It's also 38% of their passing touchdowns. Henry was the sole bright spot of their "Non-QB rushing attack, with 1211 yds, 4.5 per carry, and 7 TD's. Just for the Record, Vince Young ran for 552 yards, 6.7 per carry, and 7 touchdowns. LenWhale White only rushed for 244 yards, 4.0 per carry, and zero touchdowns. Look for Chris Brown to seriously step up in the run game.|
I said this before but since I'm attempting to do a more serious job of rival analysis, I'll say it again.
The Titans are dooming Young to failure by not surrounding him with as much talent as possible, or at least keeping the talent that he's gotten comfortable with working with around. He's gotta learn an expanding playbook, while developing rapport with new WR's, hope to god that LenDale white is physically fit enough to play, hope the Chris Henry can pull a Jones-Drew and have an explosive year. All the while every team he plays against is gonna dare him to throw with 8 or 9 guys in the box.
There is one other key difference between the 2006 Titans and the 2007 Titans. They've lost, for better or for worse, Adam "Pac-Man" Jones. On the positive side, the team is able to move on. Vince turned up the heat :
Losing a player of that caliper often requires multiple additions to offset the loss. In this case the Titans added CB Nick Harper of the Colts and should replace Adam at his primary position. Nick, you might remember, got tackled by Ben Roethlisberger AND stabbed by his wife. In all seriousness, he's a cover CB with little special teams skills. So he's clearly not a total replacement for Jones. Also notable in the Titans defense is the drafting of Safety/Cornerback Michael Griffin, and acquired CB Kelly Herndon.
What's the Same: The Titans are still a young team with unrealized potential and salary cap problems. About the best news is that the suspension of Adam Jones could free up four million dollars in cap space. Jimmy at Music City Miracles says that should be used to sign anyone who can play on the Defensive line, and I completely agree. Though, Jesse Mahelona could be interesting in his second season next to Albert Haynesworth. Of course, I'm very much in the "build around two massive DT's" school of thought, so I could be wrong. Mahelona is not quite tall enough to be a pass rushing DT, if one exists, but his short and stout build makes him perfect for clogging run lanes, especially inside. The Titans, for the record, were 30th in the league in defending the run and little was done in the off-season to address this problem. The biggest problem is the sheer amount of rush yards allowed per game, a massive 144.6 and 20 rushing TD's. That's bad news for any team, unless you're the colts and allow 173 per game and 20 TD's and still win the Super Bowl, but who's keeping track.
On offense the only consistant thing is the O-line and Tight Ends. I bet nobody knew that the Titans had the 5th ranked rushing attack, but that's because Mike Munchak is one of the best asst. coaches out there and should be recognized for making absolute nobodies into a very good offensive line. I these guys should get better as they get more used to a mobile quarterback behind them and adjust their game accordingly. Ben Troupe and Bo Scaife are Vince's best shot at getting any sort of stability in the passing game, and they'll have to step up accordingly.
Overly Optimistic Dead-Zone Chatter: With all that's happened to the Titans this offseason, from the Madden Curse to Pac Man Jones, a little peace and quiet in the empty period between mini-camp and training camp might be the best thing that can happen to this team. There is this little issue about Jeff Fisher's contract, but I'm sure the Titans front office realizes how good of a coach that they have. (And coming from me, that's a BIG compliment)
Best Case: Titans split their openers (Jags and Colts), beat the Saints in a MNF showdown, sweep through Atlanta, Tampa, Houston and Oakland with 3 outta 4, win one out of their next three to Carolina, Jags and Denver, beat Cincy and Houston, lose to the chargers, and win 2 out of 3 to KC, Jets and Indy. That puts them at an impressive, albeit unlikely 10 and 6. Which could be tantalizingly close to a playoff berth, but probably not in the ultra-tight AFC
Worst Case: Start off the season 0-4, pick up two against Tampa and Houston, lose to Oakland in the "battle of post-draft expectations", drop three in a row against Carolina, Jags, and Denver, win against the Bengal's, lose to Houston, San Diego, beat Kansas City, and then lose their final two against the Jets and the Colts. A nasty 4 and 12 that doesn't represent the talent deep inside this team. But enough to make Fisher leave and further damage what could be a young and talented team.
In a Nutshell: Vince Young wins the ones Pac Man would have, but not enough to offset their offensive player losses. Look for a very exposed secondary and a still loose run defense to keep Vince playing from behind and making young mistakes, no pun intended.