Monday, August 8, 2011

NFL 32 in 32: Tennessee Titans

2008 seems like it was more than 3 years ago for Titans fans. After the recovery from an 0-6 start in 2009 to get to 8-8, 2010 was a season to forget. Now, the completely revamped Titans look to improve and take a wide-open AFC South. But, are they too early in the rebuilding process to be able to do so?

What's New: Plenty. It starts with the head coach, Mike Munchak. He had been the offensive line coach for 11 years under Jeff Fisher, and now he is the first new head coach for the Titans since the middle of the 1994 season when the Titans were the Houston Oilers and the ousted coach was Jack Pardee. Munchak knows this team very well, and that should help acclimate the new QB, Matt Hasselbeck. After his less than pleasant departure from Seattle, he takes the helm of an offense which does have arguably the NFL's best RB in Chris Johnson, despite his current holding out (as of the time of this writing). And Hasselbeck will be learning a new offense from new offensive coordinator Chris Palmer, who is coming over from the UFL. Most of the focus though in the draft and free agency was focused on the defensive side of the ball though. New additions to the D are Jordan Babineux, Frank Walker, Barrett Ruud, and others, who look to turn around a poor defense from last season. Offensively, there is not much new other than Hasselbeck and Palmer, aside from the rookie 1st round pick Jake Locker, but he does not figure to see much action at all this year as he develops.

Biggest Strength: Chris Johnson is one of the league's biggest playmakers, and he should help Matt Hasselbeck and the offense progress with their learning curve. The offensive line was also pretty decent, and they'll have to be once again in order to keep Hasselbeck upright. Hasselbeck himself is no slouch at QB, but he does have to deal with a lack of weapons on offense. Defensively, they do have some good pieces in the secondary in Cortland Finnegan and Alterraun Verner.

Biggest Weakness: Offensively, and especially in the passing game, the Titans don't have an abundance of weapons aside from Kenny Britt. It will especially show up with the Titans lack of good TE's. Defensively, the Titans are young and have some promising players in all areas, but they still need to develop in order to be a major force, especially in a division with the Texans and Colts. Overall, aside from Hasselbeck and Johnson, there just is not an abundance of premier talent on the Titans roster this season.

Outlook: Not much rosier than their 6-10 season from a year ago. Matt Hasselbeck will add stability to the QB position which the Titans have lacked for years, but the learning and development curve under a new head coach and offensive coordinator will be steep. Combine that with a tough schedule and a tough division, there is not much promise for this season in Nashville. However, the rebuilding process does look like it's on the right track for the future.

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