Here’s the second installment of the Tennessee Titans: Behind The Lines series, where we look to experts around the division in order to see what’s going on in our neighbor’s backyard. Last week we took a look at the Houston Texans and talked to Ryan Cook, the editor of The Toro Times.
This week we move down the ranks of the AFC South and interview none other than Nate Dunlevy of ColtsAuthority.com. Nate is a prominent Colt’s writer and blogger and you can find him on Twitter as well @NateDunlevy. Let’s dig in and see what he had to say about the Colts’ draft and their perception of the Titans.
TS – What’s the general consensus as far as fans’ perception of how the Colt’s draft went?
Nate – Ryan Grigson has a lot of good will built up from the 2012 draft, and that’s helping him with this uninspiring bunch. It was a boring draft for the Colts overall, with the second and third picks being used on big interior linemen. I think everyone is reasonably high on Werner in round one, but the rest of the draft feels forgettable.
TS – I was high on Bjoern Werner as a 4-3 end for the Titans. How do you see him fitting in with the Colts and their 3-4 scheme? Will he start OLB in their base package? Or should we expect to see him as more of a rush down player with his hand in the dirt?
Nate – The Colts like Werner’s versatility, and I expect you’ll see him play with his hand down often. As for whether he starts or not, it’s not really the right question. He’ll definitely be a pass-rush specialist at first, but Eric Walden might technically start. This is the way it was for Robert Mathis early in his career. Werner should expect to see the bulk of the snaps, regardless of who plays on first down of the first drive.
TS – The Colts went offensive line with their 2nd and 3rd draft pick. How big of a weakness was the line last year? Do Thornton and Holmes bring depth, or starting potential day one?
Nate – Last year’s line was a nightmare, there’s no question. Both Holmes and Thornton could potentially win starting jobs, simply because they aren’t faced with much competition. Indy’s line was among the worst in football, so any warm body should help and has to be considered a threat to start.
TS – Except for their two 7th round picks, the Colts didn’t look to surround Andrew Luck with more weapons through the draft. Do the Colt’s feel like they have enough play-makers on offense?
Nate – I do. They clearly plan on building around the double TE set of Fleener and Allen. They have a glaring need at wide receiver as Reggie Wayne can’t be expected to post 1000 yards in perpetuity. Still for this season, they probably have enough firepower to keep Luck happy.
TS – The Colts had a great year last year and made the playoffs. Obviously trying to take down the Texans is the Colt’s first goal, but is there any looking over the shoulder at the Titans? Are Colt’s fans concerned about them at all, or feel like they have the Titans’ number now?
Nate – I wouldn’t say they have the Titans’ number exactly, but no one is impressed with the moves they made this off-season. It’s hard to see Tennessee being much better than a six or seven win team. The AFC South is desperately weak, and nine wins could take the division. With the Texans taking significant steps in the wrong direction, it would be a mistake to write off any team.
Still, until Jake Locker proves he is a franchise quarterback, Colts fans will feel comfortable with the Luck v Locker matchup.
Well then. I find it interesting how dismissive Colts fans are of the Titans, especially after the off season both teams just had respectively. It seems Texans fans are more wary of the Titans than the Colts, even having beaten the Titans soundly in both appearances last year.
The Titans lost an overtime shocker to the Colts, that should have never gone to overtime, and another close game where the Titans had the lead until the very end. A loss is a loss however, and the past 10 years don’t speak well for the Titans/Colts rivalry.
Most surprising, however, is the outside perception of the Titans’ off season. This has to be one of the most exciting and progressive off seasons that the Tennessee Titans have ever had, at least on paper, and yet Nate says “no one is impressed with the moves they made this off-season”. Are all the Titans’ fans blinded by the light? Or are Colts’ fans just used to being dismissive of the Titans?
Hopefully the Colts’ players share the sentiment of the fans, and overlook a revamped Titans team intent on playing smash-mouth football. We won’t find out until the teams play each other twice in three weeks next season.
You can follow me on Twitter @gunnelsj