OTA’s are over and the Titans are excited about the upcoming season. That’s nice and all, but how can the fans possibly be as optimistic?
Try to find something positive about the Titans’ offseason. You won’t find one here, here, or here. Things are so dire, this near-propagandist piece, penned by Titans executives The Tennessean, dares fans to get excited just because the team has worked hard and how well perpetual hope-crusher Lavelle Hawkins has played. Depending how the empty the glass looks on your end, you’re either as down as I am on the Titans’ playoff chances or “this is ridiculous, it’s only June.” But what could two more months of open competitions between mediocre talent possibly tell you about this team that you didn’t already know?
Long after the scattered clouds clear over Nashville this week, the Chris Johnson cloud will still hover over the Titans. Just take a look at the list of last year’s holdouts that included Roddy White, Brandon Marshall, and Leon Washington. The Falcons and Broncos both missed the playoffs and the Jets made the conference finals thanks to the unexpected emergence of Washington’s eventual replacement, Shonn Greene. Chris Johnson’s reasons for his contract situation seem as unprecedented as his sudden rise to elite status, but the impact of his holdout will weigh the team down like all the holdouts before him. I’m pretty sure a top-3 reason players are happy about the end of OTA’s is they can now go a day without a reporter asking them when Johnson will show up to camp.
Oh, but if only a silly holdout was all we had to be concerned. On a team already lacking talent at key places like the secondary and at linebacker, the Titans can’t afford to have the 3 key-holders of the offense (the best thing the team has going for it) carrying on with the kind of drama Vince Young, Johnson, and Kenny Britt are staging. In fact, there isn’t a single starter on the Titans roster, on EITHER side of the ball, who doesn’t worry me except for Derrick Morgan (battling injuries already) and the two tackles (who gets excited about tackles?).
When I look at the roster on paper, this team is playoff-caliber. There’s enough explosiveness in the backfield, enough depth at receiver, and the defensive line should be rejuvenated with the return of Jason Jones and the arrival of Morgan. But in the grand scheme of things, there’s so many off-the-field problems it might be too much even for master motivator Jeff Fisher to keep the team’s eyes on the prize. Except the prize these days is to go a week without an embarrassing headline.
The expectations are being lowered every week with this team, but what say you? How do you think the 2011 Titans season plays out?