While we still have the back end of free agency to deal with along with the upcoming draft there are more than a few keys to have offensive success for the 2012 season for the Tennessee Titans. I’ll touch on what I believe are five of those keys.
1.) Get, and keep Cookie involved in the game plan week in and week out. Jared Cook, affectionately known as Cookie, has evolved into a game changer at tight end for the Titans. Last year he caught 49 balls for 759 yards and easily could have had a 1,000 yard season if he was involved more. To me, one of the most impressive stats was that he had 11 receptions go for at least 20 yards. Wow! In order to open holes for Chris Johnson, Cookie must be more involved in the game plan.
2.) Settle the interior line situation. Bringing in Steve Hutchinson at guard was a great move by the front office, and it really showed their intent to shore up the line play. The fact that the Titans brought in Scott Wells, Chris Myers, and Jeff Saturday, all centers, and didn’t sign one doesn’t bode well for Eugene Amano, however. Amano is the incumbent starter and it is clear that the Titans FO is not happy with his play. Recently the Titans brought in former Patriots center Dan Koppen to kick the tires and see what he may have to offer. This recent activity leads me to believe that the Titans seriously want to move away from Amano at center, but don’t want to have to draft a guy like Peter Konz out of Wisconsin who is considered one of the best centers in the draft. A couple things are certain as of right now, Steve Hutchinson will play at his natural left guard spot, and the Titans will do almost anything to not have Amano back at center. Whatever it is they decide, they need to get this fixed heading into the season.
3.) Lean on the passing game early and often. Hasselbeck and the line proved last year that even without Kenny Britt they could throw the ball and protect the passer. The running game did have more than a few hiccups but Hasselbeck seemed right at home flinging it around the park. Hasselbeck seemed so comfortable in fact that he threw for 3,571 yards, the most he’s had since 2007, he also averaged 6.9 yards a pass which was also the most he’s averaged since 07. Now look, don’t get me wrong, I don’t think we need to throw it all over the place constantly but with a healthy Kenny Britt, Jared Cook, Nate Washington, and Damian Williams the Titans have plenty of weapons on the perimeter to open up running lanes for Chris Johnson.
4.) Let Kenny Britt flourish. This guy is a beast! In a little under three games last year he had 289 receiving yards and simply looked unstoppable. Due to an ACL/MCL tear against Denver his season was ended prematurely. The best thing about his injury is that it happened early in the season and he has about 10 months to come back from surgery and rehab. All indications point to him being ahead of schedule in rehab from the knee injury and I’m sure he’s licking his chops thinking about not only what could have been, but what will be, once he gets back on the field. Once back, he should be given every opportunity to be the go to guy in the passing game for our offense. Before the injury, Britt really excelled at catching comebacks, working double moves on corners and simply out muscling them on 9 routes. He has the whole package.
5.) Last but not least, I know, I know, you may be saying why did he take so long to bring up C.J.? Well, truth be told, I truly feel like if the above 4 things I mentioned pan out then CJ2K will be back to his old ways. Due to the lockout last year and his own hold out, CJ never really got on track. There was absolutely zero continuity between him and the o-line and he seemed more than hesitant on many runs. However, I think more than anything he wants to succeed and show what he is really capable of doing, but like more than a few players out there, it was easy for him to shut it down at times during the season. I don’t think he’s punch drunk, I don’t think he’s afraid of contact, or any of that stuff. I actually think he’s a very intelligent player that simply knew things were not clicking and chose to not get killed constantly like he had done the year before in an offense that always wanted to run ISOs and up the middle.
Football is an absolute wonderful game of chess that will constantly have you thinking and switching your tendencies and game plans to gain the upper hand. The Titans have pieces of the puzzle in place on offense to make a very difficult match up for any defense in the league. I look forward to the upcoming season to see how these pieces are used.