DRAFT PREVIEW – TENNESSEE TITANS

A look at the Titans heading into the 2011 NFL Draft; Tennessee has the 8th pick in the first round.

REVIEW OF 2010

Record – 6-10, in a season where the Titans began the year with 5-2 record, but then lost eight of their last nine games. Ultimately, that led to the departure of both head coach Jeff Fisher and QB Vince Young. Change is in the Nashville wind.

Finish – tied for third in the AFC South, four games behind division leader Indianapolis and two games behind second-place Jacksonville.

Playoffs – the 2008 season was the last time Tennessee played after the regular season. They were division winners that year with a 13-3 record, but they lost in the first-round of the playoffs. The same thing happened the season before when they made the post-season with a 10-6 record and again lost in the first round. They haven’t won a game in the playoffs since 2003.

OVERVIEW

The Titans fell apart across the board in the 2010 season as both offense and defense struggled for productivity and consistency. After predicting another 2,000-yard season, RB Chris Johnson never got close. QB Vince Young’s turbulent time with Tennessee came to an end due to his behavior off the field, although his play on the field was inconsistent as well.

Head coach Jeff Fisher and the franchise parted ways, ending the longest tenure as head coach in the NFL. Titans’ assistant and Hall of Fame blocker Mike Munchak was named his replacement and there will not be a wholesale change of attitude in how things are done in Nashville.

The offense needs a quarterback, but should run through RB Chris Johnson, who remains one of the league’s most productive offensive threats. It’s the defense that’s going to need some fine tuning, as coordinator Chuck Cecil and legendary DL coach Jim Washburn are no longer around. New coordinators are in place with Chris Palmer on offense and Jerry Gray on defense.

PARTICULARS

Offense – averaged 302 yards per game to rank No. 27 among NFL offenses. They scored 37 touchdowns, led by Johnson with 12 scores to go along with his 1,364 rushing yards and 245 receiving yards. He had 360 touches, or an average of 22.5 times per game. Rookie Kenny Britt led the club in receiving yardage with 775 yards on 42 catches and 9 TDs. But he’s also found himself in trouble with the law on multiple occasions in the last year. Veteran QB Kerry Collins had 14 TDs compared to 8 INTs, throwing for 1,823 yards and an 82.2 passer rating. The offensive line did a good job on pass protection, allowing 27 sacks in 501 passing plays, or every 18.5 pass plays.

Defense – the Titans gave up an average of 367.7 yards per game, ending up the season as the No. 26 defense, including a No. 29 ranking in passing yards allowed at 252 yards per game. They gave up 30 touchdowns, including 23 TD passes. Tennessee had 40 sacks, led by former Chiefs DE Jason Babin with 12.5 sacks. They picked off 17 passes, topped by 4 from S Michael Griffin. Rookie CB Alterraun Verner had 3 picks. Overall, the Titans defense had 25 takeaways.

Special teams – K Rob Bironas remains one of the most consistent legs in the business, as he hit 24 of 26 FG attempts, missing only from 35 and 61 yards. P Brett Kern was solid at a 42.9-yard average and a net average of 39.1 yards. The highlight of the ’10 season for the Titans was rookie returner Marc Mariani out of Montana, as he returned a punt 87 yards for a score and a kickoff 98 yards for a TD. Coverage units gave up a kickoff return TD.

DECISION MAKER

Good question these days around the Titans after all the off-season changes. With Fisher gone and Munchak in, the final say more than likely is now in the hands of GM Mike Reinfeldt, who just signed a contract extension. Owner Bud Adams gets what he wants, with the example of Vince Young being drafted by the Titans when Fisher and the football people were interested in other players.

Who has the draft room juice? GM Reinfeldt, as long as the owner stays home.

TEAM NEEDS

1. Quarterback. The Vince Young Era is over in Tennessee and the Titans have to start over at the position. After five seasons, they continue to tread water with grizzled veteran Collins and last year’s rookie pick Rusty Smith. But there are so many other spots to fill on the Titans roster that it’s doubtful they will reach for a QB if one of the top two guys isn’t there at No. 8.

2. Safety. Griffin is solid at FS, but veteran SS Chris Hope is in the final season on his contract and there are no obvious replacements in the pipeline. They may ultimately move a CB like Cortland Finnegan into a safety spot, but they’ll still be on the lookout for a major talent upgrade at the position.

3. Linebacker. The Titans used to field some of the best LB combinations in the game when they were chasing division titles and Super Bowls in the late 1990s and early 2000s. That’s not the case anymore as their trio of OLBs Gerald McRath and Will Witherspoon and MLB Stephen Tulloch are pedestrian and did not rule the field the way a 4-3 defense would expect its linebackers to produce. Tulloch is set to be a free agent and there’s last year’s third-round draft choice Rennie Curran who should be ready to step forward.

FIVE-YEAR DRAFT HISTORY

The Titans have found some outstanding contributors late in the draft and failed miserably with some of their early picks. That type of combination doesn’t usually happen.

But it’s there in black and white. In the ’06 Draft they used their first two picks on QB Vince Young and RB Len Dale White who are both gone. Yet, they found CB Courtland Finnegan in the seventh round. Last year, they scored with seventh-round pick Marc Mariani as a returner.

In the first round they scored on S Griffin (2007) and RB Johnson (2008). They busted on Young (2006), Britt (2009) and (so far) DE Derrick Morgan (2010).

2006: The top of this class proved a disaster with QB Young and RB White. But they hit big with seventh-round CB Finnegan.

2007: Tennessee scored with Griffin in the first round, but got nothing afterwards.

2008: RB Johnson was a big score in the first round and DT starter Jason Jones. Nothing much else popped from this group.

2009: They scored a couple of starters with WR Britt and DT Sen’Derrick Marks. But nothing much else has turned up from this group after two seasons and Britt is a continuing problem with his off-field behavior.

2010: First-rounder Morgan had 1.5 sacks before ending up on the IR list for most of the season. Fourth-round CB Alterraun Verner had 3 INTs and seventh-round KR/PR Mariani went to the Pro Bowl.

PREDICTION

If Blaine Gabbert is still around, he’s a consideration. Whether the Titans feel desperate enough to reach for another passer if Gabbert is gone will be interesting to watch. Whether it’s Ryan Mallett, Jake Locker, Christian Ponder or another passer, it’s a reach at No. 8. The best players that should still be available, include Auburn DT Nick Fairley, WR Julio Jones and a bunch of DEs like Mizzou’s Aldon Smith, Iowa Adrian Clayborn, Ohio State’s Cameron Heyward and Wisconsin’s J.J. Watt. The pick – Auburn DT Nick Fairley.

Comments are closed.



Get the Flash Player to see the slideshow.


Categories

Other News

Archives


RSS


Pages

Home