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AFC South Rival Rundown: Titanic Edition

In the coming weeks we'll be outlining what our AFC South rivals have done in the off-season and why they are better or worse off for it.

First, we'll start with the Titans as we examine what will likely be the begining of a multi-year rebuilding project this season. The Titans are not where they need to be to compete for the division title this year, and likely won’t even make a run at a wild-card seed. They haven’t done enough to improve in any area and this club is clearly in a rebuilding year, whether their fans want to admit it or not.

Vince young has been a bust as a passing QB and couldn’t hold a candle to former Atlanta signal caller and dog-fighter extraordinaire, Ron Mexico (if you don’t get it, ask in the comments and someone will tell tell you).

Vick’s passing was still below average, but Young’s is atrocious. His mechanics are horribly flawed, he’s immature (shirtless drinking), and doesn’t have the football intelligence to play at the pro level (wonderlic score of 6).  As long as Vince is their QB, they will be a run first team and that was their logic behind drafting the 4.24 speed freak C. Johnson. He could turn out to be a big time player… but likely not this year. He hasn’t faced NFL competition, or difficult college teams at that. He played his NCAA days at Garrard’s college of East Carolina, which doesn’t face the nation’s most stringent defenses. 

The other RB’s in Tennessee’s backfield are above average but not great. LenDale "McWhite" runs the show back there, but can’t control his weight and admittedly eats fast food all the time. He’s always struggled with conditioning and this year shouldn’t be any different. Chris Henry still hasn’t reached the next level, and may  never get there.

Their first round pick will mainly be a safety valve in the passing game, especially early in the year. In my opinion that describes the entire Titan offense this season.

Alge Crumpler was brought in from the falcons specifically to act as a dump off for Vince Young in a passing game in which he flinches too often and takes off. The team clearly doesn’t want him to run as much because they’ve provided him solid contributors with RAC ability.

The first move was Crumpler, followed by the drafting of the best pass catching RB in the draft. However, in a somewhat questionable move, they chose to ignore any WR early, instead focusing on their defensive line.

Therein lies the problem, too many holes, not enough plugs. Simple math will be the Titans’ undoing this season, there just aren't enough quality players to replace the ones they have lost. Add to this the fact that they have a new offensive coordinator to replace Norm Chow, and you’ve got trouble

Mike Heimerdinger is the new coordinator but had no time to work with Vince in the off-season due to Young demanding to finish his degree from Texas."This gives more credence to the rumor that Vince seriously thought about quitting football. It’s a little bit different when a guy like Jamaal Fudge goes back for his degree because he hasn’t, and likely won’t, get a huge contract. As a result having his degree is crucial to providing for himself if football doesn’t pan out.

[Note by River City Rage, 06/11/08 6:01 PM EDT ] Hartley, a Titans fan in the Comments, gives a correction here that should be noted:

Vince scheduled his classes so that he could fly back to Nashville, he was here 4 days a week even while in school. ‘Dinger did get time with Vince, enough time to recognize a problem with Vince’s footwork and start working to correct it.

Young already got a huge contract, and the only way he loses that money is to retire, in which case he’d be on the hook for the better part of 20 million dollars to the Titans in recoverable pay. The only reason he needs a degree is if he quits football and has to get a real 9-5. This is all speculation on my part, but I don’t think Vince can handle the NFL. 

Defensively, they have an influx of rookie talent at the line of scrimmage. They have a new run stuffing DE and a project they snagged in the 4th round from Winston Salem State. Both are suspect, in my opinion, as neither is the complete package. Jason Jones has very limited pass-rushing skill and William Hayes is way undersized 6’2 252 lbs. Neither will likely play lights-out this season and it is likely neither will develop into pro bowl players. Jevon "The Freak" Kearse is back, but is merely a shadow of his former self and isn’t worth worrying over. If he were still a star he wouldn’t have lost his job, and that’s the bottom line. Don’t listen to the spin! 

Albert Haynesworth is sitting out of OTA’s because he didn’t get a long-term deal. This is a bigger deal than many might imagine because Haynesworth probably isn’t getting the intense conditioning he would get if he signed his franchise tender and showed up to work. He likely won’t be in top conditioning when we meet the Titans early in the season and their defense will be chewed up.

What is Albert Haynesworth missing by not being at OTAs?

Fisher "It’s the day to day work.  It’s the day to day change of direction, conditioning, and the workload.  Like I said several weeks ago, I hope he is able to find and match the workload somewhere else, but it is very, very difficult to do."

The Titans will indeed be easy prey this season.