Like Jack Sparrow in the newest installment of “The Pirates of the Caribbean”, the Tennessee Titans need to go in search of the fountain of youth. Their wide receiver corps is especially in need of a youth movement. Some of the players they currently call “starters” would be no more than a number three wide out on most other NFL rosters.
The first step in getting headed in the right direction is to get rid of the overpaid and underachieving veterans. Justin Gage and Nate Washington are not only taking valuable game time from the young Titan receivers but are hurting the team on the field with their production. Nate Washington was in the top 10 last in deep ball targets in 2010, unfortunately he was also in the top of the league in dropped balls. As far as Gage, he has fought injuries almost every season. He may never fully recover from the broken bones in his back he suffered going for a jump ball across the middle versus the Forty Niners. Between the two, Gage and Washington are due to receive 6.8 million dollars this year. That money would be better served helping the Titans make a bid to shore up a defense that is in desperate need of help.
Once the Titans manage to trim the proverbial fat from their receiving corps they have the young players in place to have a very dangerous offense headed into the future. Everyone knows what Kenny Britt is capable of after his historic second half against the Eagles last season. With Britt it is all a matter of if he can keep his nose clean and remain on the field. Coach Munchak will have to keep a close eye on Britt to ensure that his primary pass catcher lives up to his potential. At this point the only thing stopping Britt is himself, and if he can stay out of his own way the sky is the limit.
Damian Williams is poised to have a break out season, IF he can get the playing time. He has comparable physical stats to Donald Driver from the Green Bay Packers and given the opportunity could reasonably be expected to produce on the same level. For Williams it is all a matter of getting experience and the Titans will have a major contributor on offense for years to come.
The most interesting prospect for the Titans long term is their current Pro Bowl punt and kick returner Marc Mariani. He like current Titan teammate Damian Williams and former Titan great Derrick Mason drew interest from the Titans because of his skills on special teams. Those skills combined with his frame and build lead to comparisons with Patriots wide out Wes Welker who still holds the NCAA record for punt return yards. If the Titans are willing to unleash Mariani in the slot and get him the ball in stride, he can split defenders and break some long plays.
These three young men should be the starters for the Titans if the organization can set aside their pride and admit they are overpaying for veterans who are no longer worth the contracts that they occupy. With a young quarterback in Jake Locker, why not let the rest of the offense grow up with him? Add in tight end Jared Cook and all world running back Chris Johnson and the Titans are on the cusp of having one of the better offenses in the NFL. Not exactly the norm in Nashville.