Tennessee Titans staring at wide open AFC South
The Titans are in a very unique position. They are faced with a number of uncertainties headed into the 2011 season, but believe it or not they may be the second best team in the division.
The iron man Peyton Manning had a third procedure done on his injured neck today. He was still not able to throw with velocity after the previous two procedures and was experiencing some major back pain when he attempted passes. The forecast at this point is for Manning to miss at least 2 – 3 months. This translates into he’s out for the season unless Kerry Collins can find a way to win 10 games while Manning is out and put the Colts in a playoff hunt headed into the critical backend division loaded part of the schedule. Combine the lack of Manning with the very poor condition of the Colts defense and the Titans are completely capable of winning both games against the Colts this year.
The Jaguars threw a curveball to the entire league on Tuesday by releasing longtime starter David Garrard less than a week before the season opener, much the same way his predecessor Byron Leftwich was let go. This means the Jags will be trotting out Luke McCown as their starting quarterback, and frankly the Buffalo Bills wouldn’t want this guy as their starter. He’s that bad. Between McCown and the slew of new starters on the Jaguars defense I would think the Titans are favored headed into the first meeting of the season this Sunday, even with the complete turnover the Titans have gone through.
The one team standing between the Titans and worst to first glory is the Houston Texans.. Can the Texans absorb and adapt to Wade Phillips 3-4 scheme in time to be effective on defense? Anything for the Texans would be an improvement as they were the worst defense in the league last season. Is Arian Foster’s much publicized hamstring going to be healthy enough to get him through the season? Can he repeat last years dominant rushing performance or will he be another one hit wonder? Can Courtland Finnegan make it through a game without Andre Johnson making him look like Apollo Creed in Rocky IV?
All told most of the questions that will determine the Titans fate entering the 2011 season rest on their own shoulders. Can the players learn and excel at both new offensive and defensive systems? Will there be an excitement about the game and for each other that was obviously lacking last year? Can Mike Munchak manage a professional football game? Will CJ be able to stay healthy despite missing all of training camp? Can Kenny Britt stay out of handcuffs (both Brittany Spears and Metro)? Is Matt Hasselbeck the man the Titans think he is? Will Jake Locker be the man for the Titans in the future?
New coach, new quarterback, new faces abundant all over the roster. Will the winds of change extend to more than just personnel and translate into a change in attitude on the field? Will that attitude translate into on field success? Only time will tell, and the time is drawing near. Only two more days till kickoff, Its Titan time in Tennessee!