Tennessee Titans barely missed the playoffs last season but are looking towards
2012 as the year that will push them over the hump and into the postseason.
Craig Takes Kenny To The Woodshed
By: Craig Tattan
is beginning to be more trouble than he's worth. He's one of those guys who cannot seem to
stand his own success. While injuries
can happen to the best of them, becoming a bona fide jackass is optional. It looks like Britt has officially triggered
that option with his recent arrest for DWI in the early morning hours of July
only 23-years old and among the most talented at his position when
healthy. But his off-field antics are
getting criminal...literally. This DWI
is his eighth run in with the law since 2009, and he could face a suspension
from the NFL based on their personal conduct policy.
If you're reading this, Kenny, one day you will
wake up and those legs won't fire, your back will stiffen and those soft hands
that caught all those spirals will feel like clumps of cement. It's called getting old, and it happens in an
instant in the NFL. Your act is already
getting old in Tennessee, particularly because you are spending more time in the
trainer's room than on the field. People
are more apt to forgive when you're scoring touchdowns but, right now, you're
dropping the ball in more ways than one. Time to grow up.
Kenny's Britt-le Knees
By: Craig Tattan
Titans have to be concerned about Kenny Britt. The talented but injury-prone receiver tore the ACL and MCL in his right
knee in Week 3 of last year and sat on the shelf for the duration. After rehabbing the knee, he had a "clean
up" procedure in May. Okay, a
common procedure but one that may raise a few eyebrows from Titans' fans, yet
the medical community says not to worry.
what about this latest arthroscopic surgery on his left knee after mini-camp ended in June? The Titans have to be wondering whether this
will be another year of injury woes or will Britt's knees hold up? That is one of the key questions that will
need to be answered though training camp may shed some light on Britt's
Perhaps even more
important than Kenny Britt's health is which Chris Johnson will show up for the
Titans this season? After holding out
during the 2011 offseason and then signing a $53 million extension to get back
in a Titans' uniform, Johnson was far from the runner who gained over 2,000
yards on the ground only a few years removed. With a full training camp under his belt, Tennessee fans have to hope
Johnson will be back in full swing.
The Patriots Pay A Visit
By: Craig Tattan
are known for a devastating rushing attack as long as Chris Johnson is
healthy...and motivated. Last season
Johnson sat out training camp and only showed flashes of the brilliance we've
come to expect. Without Johnson at his
best, the Titans are a decidedly different team. Will Chris Johnson return to vintage
form? Let's assume he does and that the
passing game is as effective this year as it was last, ranked 12th
in the NFL. The Titans may be a surprise
team and sneak up on opponents who have not counted on Tennessee being a team
host Super Bowl runners-up the New England Patriots to kick off the 2012
season. As good as the Titans may be
offensively, getting the injury prone Kenny Britt back in uniform and adding to
their receiving corps first round draft pick Kendall Wright, the Patriots are
simply better. Even the New England
defense looks to be much more prone to wreaking havoc in the backfield with two
big time draft picks in Chandler Jones and Dont'a Hightower. NFL odds makers don't see the Titans matching the Patriots
point for point in what could very easily be a shootout in Nashville.
the Patriots -9 ½
Titans A'int Dogging It
By: Craig Tattan
may lose games this season, but the coaching staff is determined that it will
not be due to fatigue. Rapid fire drills
have been integrated into the workouts this offseason and they are designed to
build stamina and get the players used to pushing through fatigue in order to
stay sharp late in the game.
A total of
77 stations were used and multiple reps at each station were demanded of the
players. Titans’ strength and
conditioning coach, Steve Watterson, and assistant strength coach Jason Novak have designed the program to up the conditioning of Titan players on both sides
of the ball.
Gerald McRath said, “Doing a workout like that is more different than just
lifting weights because anybody can pick up a weight, lift it, sit down for two
or three minutes, and then go back and do it again. You’re constantly moving; it’s almost like a
game. In a game, you never know how many plays you’re going to be on a drive.
You’ve got to constantly give 100 percent on each and every play for how many
seconds a play lasts. You’ve got to be able to recover quickly and do it
Right now all the players are expected to
participate except quarterbacks, special teams’ players and those rehabbing
injuries who have a similar though varied routine.
By: Craig Tattan
made a bold move in the draft that, as it turns out, was even bolder than many
had ever imagined. Tennessee moved up
ten spots in the 5th round in a trade with Miami that sent the
Dolphins their 5th rounder in addition to a 7th rounder
to pluck a defensive end from SMU named Taylor Thompson. Swapping picks is routine in the NFL draft
but moving up to draft a player that was considered the 14th best at
his position sounds like a mild case of overreaction but the Titans obviously
saw something in Thompson that they were afraid others drafting before them
would see as well and thus the decision was made.
something they saw was not a raw defensive end with the potential to be a
menacing pass rusher but rather a pass catching tight end. And so it was that the former Mustang
defensive lineman is now a part of the Titan offensive scheme. Thompson played tight end in high school where
he was selected on the all-state team in Texas.
SMU head coach June Jones suggested he work on his pass catching
abilities and that his step to the next level may in fact be as a tight
got wind of this and based on reports and a game he played at the Players
All-Star Classic, the Titans felt he could bolster the competition at the
position. If his performance at minicamp
is any indication, it appears they could very well have found a steal in the 5th
Titans Lock Down Griffin
By: Craig Tattan
The big news down in Nashville is that
the Titans have signed their 27-year-old safety Michael Griffin to a 5-year,
$35 million pact that includes $15 million in guaranteed money. Griffin is a
key man to have locked up and though he is not considered among the elite, he
is nevertheless one of the very good defensive backs in a league where top
corners and safeties are at a premium.
Griffin has not missed a regular
season game since he was the Titans' 19th overall pick in '07. He
was named to the Pro Bowl in 2008 and 2010 but his play dipped a bit last
season which was probably do more to an anemic Tennessee pass rush than a drop
in effectiveness by Griffin.
Evidently the Titans agree because
they lavished a substantial contract on a player who may have yet to reach his
prime. If recently signed Kamerion Wimbley can return to a fraction of the form
that saw him wreak havoc earlier in his career and bolster a pass rush that was
virtually nonexistent last year then Griffin can focus on making plays instead
of shadowing receivers who have all day to run.
Glass Half Full In Tennessee
By: Craig Tattan
Hope springs eternal at this time of
the year with every team looking at the glass half full. Realistically though,
teams like Green Bay, New England and New Orleans may have their glasses overflowing
while teams like Tampa Bay, Cleveland or Indianapolis have nary a drop. Yet,
the Titans are truly one of those teams that are a matter of opinion, half full
or half empty?
I am a half full guy because there is plenty of room for optimism. First and
foremost, Chris Johnson will have a full training camp under his belt and now
realizes that pure athleticism only goes so far in a league filled with pure
athletes. Preparation, repetitions and live action in practice are vital if
success in the NFL is to be had. Factor in a healthy Kenny Britt complemented
round pick Kendall Wright as another target for either the
veteran Matt Hasselbeck or newcomer Jake Locker and a playoff game or two just
may be in the Titans' future this season.
Help For Hasselbeck
By: Craig Tattan
drafted a new toy for Matt Hasselbeck in the 1st
round (20th overall) and his name is Kendall Wright. Wright has been
opening eyes at the OTA's this year and he is slated to start along with Kenny
Britt and Nate Washington. But of course he will have competition from Lavelle
Hawkins and Damian Williams, who saw increased playing time when Kenny Britt
went down with an injury early last season.
as though the starting quarterback position will be an open contest between
Matt Hasselbeck and second year man Jake Locker. Locker was the team's 1st
round pick (8th overall) in 2011 and saw a bit of action last
season. This season will be different as the Titans are not going to simply
hand the job to the veteran Hasselbeck but will allow Locker to compete. Both
QB's have been given equal time working with a variety of receivers and
personnel in their most recent workouts.
Johnson had to be last season's biggest bust. After an All-World 2009 season
and a very good 2010, Johnson sat out most of last season's training camp,
demanding a new contract and plenty of guaranteed money. Well, he got it, $30
million guaranteed on a contract worth north of $50 million. But Johnson
stumbled out of the gate, clearly impacted by the lack of a full blown training
camp. He showed only flashes of the Chris Johnson from the previous years when
he ran by, around and through enemy defenses.
So far this
spring Johnson looks like a man on a mission. He has been at the Baptist Sports
Park training facility five days a week. Johnson has reportedly added 8-10
pounds to his frame and believes it will help him endure the long season ahead.
Remember The Titans?
By: Craig Tattan
running back Chris Johnson sat out training camp last year, signing shortly
before the 2012 season commenced. He
struggled mightily out of the gate and didn’t have his first 100 yard rushing
game until Week 4 and clearly didn’t hit his stride until midway through the season
but was pedestrian at best down the stretch. Perhaps the defining moment of his
disappointing season came in Week 15 when he carried the ball 15 times for 55
yards, and the Titans dropped a 27-13 decision to the woeful Indianapolis
Colts. Had they won that game, the
Titans would have earned a trip to the postseason and given their fans a reason
Johnson’s wallet is stuffed and he will be participating in training camp this
summer, the Titans will no doubt improve upon their ghastly 89.9 rushing yards
per game, which placed them 31st in a league of 32 teams. Nobody anticipated a running game stuck in
the mud with a running back just two years removed from rushing for over 2,000
yards. The Titans have to wrestle with
the prospect that they may have a disinterested superstar with a fat contract
on their hands and/or an offensive line that is unable to create the holes
needed for Johnson’s legs to take over and do damage. Regardless, there is virtually no doubt that
their rushing game improves in 2012 because there is simply little room for
them to get worse.
Who will be pulling trigger?
To put it
mildly, Tennessee has a difficult early schedule this coming season. They begin their 2012 campaign against the
Super Bowl runners-up, the New England Patriots, in Week 1 and then travel to
San Diego to meet the Chargers in Week 2. Week 3 pits them against the resurgent Detroit Lions and then it is off
to Houston, where they will get a firsthand look at Arian Foster and the Texans
in Week 4. Week 5 has the team getting a
bit of a break when they face Minnesota on the road. The following week,
however, they host the always physical Pittsburgh Steelers.
a brutal schedule. It’s not exactly the
baptism by fire conducive to building second-year man Jake Locker’s confidence –
if, that is, he is indeed their long-term solution at QB. Thus, it appears that soon-to-be 37 year old
veteran Matt Hasselbeck will get the nod to lead the Titans - at least in the
As of this
writing, Pinnacle has the odds of Tennessee winning the Super Bowl at about
65-1, and most offshore books have their total wins between 8 and 8 ½. As
tough as their early schedule is, the Titans will have the good fortune of
playing home and away against their AFC South rivals Jacksonville and
Indianapolis. Yet, it should be noted that, except for their road dates in Minnesota
and Miami, they don’t have much room for error if they are to have a winning
season. Tennessee must win all six of those games if they are to have any chance
at cashing for those who believe nine wins is a real possibility and are
willing to back that opinion up with their own hard earned cash.
While every season brings hope that things will
be better and the future is bright, I don’t see a team with an aging
quarterback and suspect running game as a threat to win nine games and compete
in the postseason.