Now that the Titans’ season is officially over, we look ahead to free agency and the draft. But before we do so, I thought it would be cool to give grades out for our players’ performances.
QB: Matt Hasselbeck – B+; Jake Locker – B
Hasselbeck kept this team afloat and nearly got them into the postseason after dealing with an inept running game and the loss of his best receiver. He showed some regression at times, but performed very well considering the circumstances. As for Locker, we saw some glimpses of a very bright future, paired with a perhaps fixable flaw: his accuracy.
RB: Chris Johnson – C-
While not all of the blame should be placed on CJ2K’s shoulders, he deserves a good amount. Johnson might have lost a step after a lot of carries through his first three years, but his effort wasn’t always there, and it showed. He picked it up towards the end of the season, but everyone expected more out of a guy getting paid “playmaker” money.
WR: Nate Washington – A; Damian Williams – B-
The Titans needed both to step up big after Britt went down in week 3. They did, with Washington having the best year of his career and Williams progressing. Washington showed a ton of heart, playing through injuries and keeping this team inspired and energized throughout the season. Williams showed signs of being a capable No. 2 receiver, but he isn’t quite there yet.
TE: Jared Cook – B
Whether he was underutilized or just not consistent is subject to discussion. What we know, though, is that Cook has massive potential to become one of the better pass-catching tight tends in this league. Let’s hope these last couple of weeks weren’t just another tease.
O-Line Pass Blocking: A-
Tackles Michael Roos and David Stewart, along with our interior linemen were able to keep Hasselbeck upright for most of the season. That gave Hasselbeck time to throw and make plays for this offense. They had some lapses, but overall had a very good season.
O-Line Run Blocking: F
The interior of this offensive line could get no push whatsoever throughout the whole season. No matter who was in our backfield, the holes to run through were extremely limited. Changes need to be made, whether internally, through the draft, or through free agency.
The line had some bright spots (Klug, Casey) but weren’t able to consistently get pressure on the quarterback. At other times, they got manhandled up front and gave up big holes on the ground. Hopefully Tracy Rocker can improve his unit this offseason.
LB: Will Witherspoon – B; Colin McCarthy – A-; Akeem Ayers – B
While the defense was stuck with Barrett Ruud’s ineptitude for much of the season, McCarthy gave them some hope. McCarthy handled his own, playing good coverage and making plays; something we haven’t seen from a Titans middle linebacker in a while. Witherspoon can still play well, even at 31. Ayers won his job from training camp and played admirably. He has a lot of potential.
CB: Cortland Finnegan – A+; Jason McCourty – A-; Alterraun Verner – A-
It really is pleasant to have three very good, young corners. Especially when the league is transforming to its pass-happiest. Finny had himself an all-pro year, taking on slot duties and blitzing when called. All while usually covering the other team’s No. 1 wideout. McCourty and Verner are pretty much interchangeable, with both being able to play outside and inside.
S: Michael Griffin – C+; Jordan Babineaux – B
Griffin really is an enigmatic player. He makes some great plays, both in coverage and playing the run. But then he has a mental lapse, and at times looks lost. He’s a tough player to evaluate. Babineaux took Chris Hope’s job when Hope got injured and never gave it back. And with good reason. He had a solid year.
K and P: Rob Bironas – A+; Brett Kern – A
At the start of the season, after a bad pre-season , we thought something was wrong with Bironas. He ended up having a great year, almost worthy of a pro bowl nod. Kern had the best year, by virtue of net yardage, in franchise history. Not bad.