Quick Note: Happy Memorial Day BCC. In between grilling and drinking beer, just remember why we have this day off in the first place. Thank all the men and women who have served and died serving in the Armed Forces.
This is the first of a series of articles on the other teams in the AFC South. If nothing else, these should give us something else to talk about besides underwear practices and the ticket situation.
First up is the Tennessee Titans, the 2008 AFC South Champions. The Titans surprised many by being the team to dethrone the Colts, especially after the bizarre turn of events with quarterback Vince Young. However, after starting 10-0 the Titans finished 3-4, including a Divisional round home loss to Baltimore.
The Titans' most news worthy off-season move was letting Albert Haynesworth go sign the richest contract for a defensive player in history with Washington. I applaud them for letting him go. I think he's going to revert back to his old self of going at half speed with all of that guaranteed money.
Tennessee's draft class is headlined by Rutgers WR Kenny Britt and Auburn DT Sen'Derrick Marks. For the first time in years, the Titans spent a first round pick on a wide receiver. Britt figures to give Tennessee a reliable wide receiver to keep Chris Johnson from seeing too many eight man fronts. I really like Marks. While I don't think he has Albert Haynesworth's ceiling, I think he'll show up and give 100% every play. Which is something Haynesworth wasn't great at.
The obvious question is, will the Titans repeat as AFC South Champions or were the one year wonders?
1. Kerry Collins vs Vince Young
The Titans brought back veteran quarterback Kerry Collins after he had some time as a free agent. However, the move may end up only hurting the team in the long run. Vince Young has made headlines for various reasons since coming into the NFL. He started off with an infamously low score of 6 on the wonderlic, but then seemingly righted the ship leading the Titans to the playoffs in 2007. Then, following a series of bizarre incidents, lost his starting job to Collins in 2008.
I understand the Titan's decision to stick with Collins entering the 2009 season, however, that doesn't mean I agree with it. Collins will turn 37 this season and he is at best a short term solution to a long term problem. The Titans have to do something with the quarterback situation that will set things in stone.
I believe Young is at the same cross roads that Byron Leftwich found himself in during the 2007 offseason. He needs to regain his composure and show people why he was the third overall pick in the draft. If not, I believe his days as a Titan are numbered.
2. Chris Johnson and LenDale White
Chris Johnson finished second for Rookie of the Year. Accounting for over 1,500 total yards as a rookie, many saw Johnson as the steal of the first round. LenDale White led the AFC in touchdowns (15) and accounted for 773 rushing yards of his own.
The Titans will once again need the duo to account for over 2,000 total offensive yards if they want to repeat as AFC South champions.
3. The Titans Defense
Even with the loss of Haynesworth, the Titans still have Kyle Vanden Bosch and Keith Bulluck to anchor the defense. The Titan's defense finished 7th in the league in total defense, and they will need a similar performance to stay at the top of the division. Rookie Sen'Derrick Marks will need to make an impact early to help soften the blow of losing DT Albert Haynesworth.
I spoke with Music City Miracles blogger Jimmy about the Titans in 2009, and here are his thoughts.
1. What are your thoughts on first round pick Kenny Britt and the rest of the Titans’ draft class in general?
I love the Kenny Britt pick. This team has been desperate for a receiver for years, and they keep trying to fill that need by picking a group of guys in the middle rounds and hoping they find one that sticks. That hasn't worked at all for them. They saw a guy in Britt that they really liked, especially after hearing of his workouts with Rod Smith who Titans O coordinator Mike Heimerdinger knows from his time in Denver, and they took him.
2. Obviously the entire Vince Young saga is well known, what are your thoughts on it and what the Titans should do with him from 2009 on?
He should be in the same place in 2009 that he was in 2008, on the bench watching Kerry Collins. Vince's contract is set up in such a way that it has to be restructured or he has to be cut before the 2010 season anyway, so barring an injury to Collins where VY comes in and lights the world on fire, Vince will be playing in another city in 2010.
3. Realistically, how much longer will Kerry Collins be the starting QB of the Titans?
They signed him to a 2-year deal this offseason, and I think he will be the starter for both of those years and then retire.
4. Which AFC South team has the best chance to take the division title from Tennessee?
I am always going to go Colts as long as they have Peyton Manning (even though I hate him more than any player in the NFL).
5. Best case scenairo
13-3 and a Super Bowl Championship. This team will have to fill the hole that losing Albert Haynesworth made, but I don't think that will be as big of a deal as most people think. They added some weapons to go with Chris Johnson in the offseason, Nate Washington, Britt and South Carolina tight end Jared Cook, so the offense will be better last year.
6. Worst case scenario
Injuries to Chris Johnson and a couple of other key players where they miss significant time and this team could end up 6-10.