Tennessee Titans Team Capsule
What Went Right
It was one if by land, two if by land for Tennessee last season. The passing game managed to be one of the league’s worst; while the Titans ranked fifth in the league by averaging 131 yards per game on the ground. LenDale White led the charge on the ground with 1,110 yards rushing and seven touchdowns. Rob Bironas proved to be one of the most dangerous Titans. Unfortunately, he’s the kicker, which doesn’t speak highly of the Titan offense. Bironas drained 35 of 39 field goals including a record-breaking eight in one game against the Texans.
What Went Wrong
If the Titans have aspirations of going deep into the playoffs they must throw the football effectively. In 15 games, Vince Young threw just nine touchdown passes while sprinkling in 17 interceptions. That’s not acceptable regardless of the receivers. Speaking of the wideouts, no receiver topped 1,000 yards or 60 receptions. After jettisoning Drew Bennett during the previous offseason, no receiver filled his shoes in 2007.
The Titans needed to address an offense that looked anemic at times. While the defense proved to be one of the league’s best units, the offense nearly kept the Titans out of the postseason. However, they made minimal additions on offense. Their most notable acquisition came with the arrival of former Pro Bowl tight end Alge Crumpler. Keep an eye on receiver Justin McCareins, who returns to the Titans and has experience working with offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger.
Tom Cruise and Anthony Edwards discussed their need for speed in Top Gun. Well, the Titans fulfilled their own need for speed by drafting running back Chris Johnson. He has a chance to make some big plays when in the open field. The Titans went on the defensive for much of the draft, however, receiver Lavelle Hawkins has a chance to contribute to a less than stellar receiving corps. Meanwhile, tight end Craig Stephens is primarily seen as a blocking threat.
State of the Team
Quarterbacks – Young’s second year did not show rapid improvement, but he can’t shoulder all of the blame. For the second consecutive offseason, he saw Tennessee’s front office shun the offense in some regard and not bring in multiple difference makers on offense. A sidebar if I may. Tennessee reminds me a great deal of the late ’80s to early’90s Philadelphia Eagles, led by quarterback Randall Cunningham (ironically, head coach Jeff Fisher served as defensive coordinator for those teams from ’88 to ’90). The Eagles leadership neglected to get Cunningham enough help to win playoff games. Whether it was receiver, offensive line or running backs, the skill positions were mostly ignored throughout the Cunningham regime; only bringing in players that were troubled at the time (Cris Carter) or past their prime (Herschel Walker). Regardless, the Birds always had that bruising defense to lean on — much like the Titans. In the end, the Eagles failed to make it to a Super Bowl due to a lack of offense. It’s a fate that will find Young unless the Titans brass wakes up, but I digress. Young is not a weekly starter because of the passing game’s ineptitude, but he remains a threat because of his legs. The arrival of Heimerdinger should help, but ultimately Young needs better skill players. Kerry Collins returns as his backup and can succeed in small doses if given the chance.
Running Backs – Tennessee’s rush game isn’t about one guy; instead a group of talented rushers attacked the defense last season. White returns and the team is hoping he continues to mature into a solid runner. Johnson should help in his first year, while Chris Henry has a ways to go before he will be looked at as a force. Also, Young is an obvious threat on the move. Tennessee is another team that will rely on more than one guy to carry the mail on Sundays.
Wide Receivers – The power does not lie here. Justin Gage and Roydell Williams are respectable receivers, but only combined for six touchdown catches in ’07. For Young to sink or swim, he has to receive a chance to swim. His career will sink to the ocean’s floor unless he gets some help. McCareins returns and may provide some relief, but stay away from this mediocre bunch.
Tight Ends – Alge Crumpler arrives and should help Young, especially in the red zone. While Crumpler isn’t quite the same player as his peak days in Atlanta, he is still better than what the Titans offered a season ago. Expect Bo Scaife to be a factor again which should also aid Tennessee’s third year quarterback.
Defense/Special Teams – Tennessee is among the best defenses in the NFL. Led by defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth, it is are arguably the most physical group in the league. However, that doesn’t necessarily equate to fantasy success. The Titan defense will be formidable again slowing down foes. The key figure on special teams will be free agent pickup, defensive back Chris Carr, who may be a prime threat returning kicks and punts.