Oct 28, 2012; Nashville, TN, USA; Tennessee Titans linebacker Colin McCarthy (52) awaits a decision by the officials in a game against the Indianapolis Colts during overtime at LP Field. The Colts beat the Titans 19-13. Mandatory credit: Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports
Chances are you’re close to exhausted of reading about the Tennessee Titans’ need for a stud linebacker. Mock drafts are as abundant as oxygen this time of year, and most experts are pegging “pass rush” as a major need in Nashville.
Rightfully so, the Titans haven’t had that presence in years. It has become one of the most obvious ingredients to a successful franchise.
Let’s reset to 2011, when the Titans thought they had found their next gem in the making.
Initially drafted in the 4th round of the 2011 NFL draft, Colin McCarthy earned the starting job by week 9 of the season. After a stellar rookie campaign, his teammates voted him the captain of the defense in 2012.
Then, the injuries set in. Oft struggling with ankle issues and concussions, he was beat out by Moise Fokou for the starting job in 2013. McCarthy’s stat line for 2013 left a bit to be desired: 0 sacks, 2 tackles for loss, 1 interception, and 1 forced fumble. He would finish 7th on the team in tackling.
So, here we are. The 2014 draft approaching, and pundits claiming the Titans should be clamoring for a linebacker.
But, what happened to Colin McCarthy? Where did it all go wrong?
He appeared to have lost a step in a situation he could ill afford to do so. McCarthy’s had one excellent year, one injury-ridden year, and one mediocre year. How does one judge a player on such uncertainty? That’s how….his stock is uncertain, and a coach can’t count on that.
Was 2013 the norm? Or was it a result of his nagging injuries and rusty play? Certainly, Fokou was not so far outstanding from Colin McCarthy. Maybe his health was such a concern to the previous regime, that he was “held back” in a reserve role. Or, maybe his coaches just lost faith in his ability to overcome his adversity.
Hey – maybe they genuinely thought Fokou would be the NFL’s breakout star of the season. They were fired, after all, for a number of poor decisions.
From the time you enter the NFL, the clock starts ticking down for you to exit the NFL. Careers are made/destroyed on one play, in a matter of seconds. In McCarthy’s case, it seems as though he never earned back the status he once had.
So, what does that all mean?
It means if he’s given a fresh start, McCarthy could resurface as a defensive stalwart in Ray Horton’s system. You’d just hope the Mike Munchak regime didn’t rattle his psyche at all. If you’ve ever heard the guy speak, you know that seems like a tall task, though you never know.
Along with Zavier Gooden, the Titans have a promising rotation of linebackers. You add a couple of big playmakers in the pass rush, and who knows…..a guy like McCarthy may be one of the bigger beneficiaries.
It’s all going to depend on whether or not he’s given a chance. Then, we’ll see what he does with that chance.
What do you think? Should he still be seen as a potential key cog in Tennessee’s defense?