Editor’s Note: Zoltan is one of my oldest “internet friends” and he always brings a unique perspective to anything he writes. He currently writes for Black And Teal, the Jaguars site on the Fansided Network, you can read his bio here and his articles here, including a recent one about the AFC South’s Biggest Weakness–Head Coaches. Be sure to check that out.
Hi, my name is Zoltan Paksa, and I’m one of the editors at Black & Teal, Fansided’s Jaguars blog. Let me tell you that I’m from Budapest, Hungary, so if you experience a bit of an accent during reading this, then please forgive me for that. Couple of days ago Brandon asked me to write an article about how the things going for or against the Titans, in my opinion. Of course I cannot refuse such an offer from an old friend. So here is my view about the “State of the Titans”.
In my point of view the Titans are now are walking in the same shoes the Jaguars did in 2009. I cannot say which retoolingt(rebuilding?) is bigger. In 2009, the Jaguars got rid of their man in charge at the front office, and promoted Gene Smith to a new title for the organization, General Manager. He started a new phase for the Jaguars. Draft the best player who are still on the board (instead of the drafting for need which was the previous regime”s motto. Also he get rid of all the troublemakers from the team, and established the new philosophy: “Character Counts”. Before Smith became the general manager, the Jaguars were the Bengals of the South, more then 20 arrest in 3 years. Since Gene Smith took over, no player who is/was under contract was arrested.
I see the same for the Titans right now. Clearly they opened a brand new chapter in the history of the franchise. They will start the season with a new head coach(although Mike Munchak is with the team for a very long time), By the way this will be the 1st time that the Jaguars – and the Texans- will play against Tennessee and the head coach will be not Jeff Fisher. The Titans will open their new season with a new offensive and defensive coordinator. And probably there will be a new starting QB in the opening week as well. Also they need to figure out, what will they do at sevceral positions. At WR, the Randy Moss experience pretty much backfired, and Kenny Britt just can’t stay out of trouble(most likely he will face suspension from Roger Goodell, or the Titans). Also they need to boost their defense, which can lose key contributors from last year like Jason Babin (FA), or Stephen Tulloch (he looks like will leave the Titans). So just like every other teams besides the Colts in the division, the Titans have a lot of homework to do. And they will have very little time to solve them.
I think they will solve their defensive issues. The defensive line is powerfull and even if they lose jason babin, they have plennty of talent at DT and DE. Jason Jones had a breakout year last season. Babin and Ford were better then anyone expected, and in ’11 last year’s 1st round pick, Derrick Morgan can return as well. And the Titans drafted 3 (if Akeem Ayers will play DE maybe even 4) players to this unit. not to mention, that the new D_line coach Tracy Rocker, who coached DT Sen’Derrick Marks (and rookie DT Zach Clayton) at Auburn, which could be an X-factor for these plays. The LB unit was maybe the weakest point of the Tennessee defense. Now they added 2 highly ranked prospect (Akeem Ayers- who is more of a 3-4OLB according to experts, but we will soon find out if he can be a playmaker or not, and Colin McCarthy also can find his way to the starting lineup. If we add Gerald Mcrath to the mix, who will begin his 3rd season this year, we can see a young LB corp on the rise, who will benefit from that powerfull D-line. I think the Titans secondary is maybe the best of the AFC South. Cortland Finnegan may be starting to be over the hill, but last year’s 4th round pick Alterraun Verner proved to me, that he could be a long-term playmaker for the Titans.
I’m not so crazy about how the Titans offense looks like right now. I think the O-line will be fine, thanks to Munchak, but other then that, I see question marks everywhere. What will do Titans do at WR, now that Moss is gone(?), and Britt is in trouble? Also I still think Chris Johnson represents a major issue (with his fantastic benefits). Last year after he had that great 2000+ yard rushing season, he asked for more money(and got it). Then he had an average (compared to him) season(1364 yards), and he also had games where he was a non-factor. (also he was reportedly one of Vince Young’s biggest supporter in the team.). 2011 must gave an answer for everybody about which CJ is the real one. The the best RB of the NFL (2009) or the back who can cause you headaches (2010)? And I didn’t even mention the QB question which will be the feature attraction in ’11 for everyone who will watch the Titans play. Jake Locker arrives to the Titans at an average, at best, season, with accurasy issues, and although he was the clear first overall pick for many draft experts before the colleges season started in ’10, his 8th overall selection is now often called by NFL Network as the “Locker Shocker”… Yes he got not so much help at Washington, where he played college. But given the Titans troubles at WR, in the first couple of games I expect more struggle, then great games.
In conclusion, I see a team, who started a rebuilding (or at least got a major facelift). 2011 will probably not the Titans year, but it will be crucial which direction they will move. Progress or strugle. I think the problems and question at the defense are managable, but I see major issues in the offensive side of the ball. One thing is for sure: If there will be a ’11 season, Mike Munchak and his young team will be challenged in many different ways. I can’t wait to see how he, Locker, and the rest of the team will respond. If everything will go on schedule, then they will take their first steps in the Everbank Field, to face off against the Jaguarson September 11…