After an eleven year marriage with Indianapolis, it was time for the home state king to return home. At least many thought Peyton Manning would come to lead the Titans back to a relevance that haven’t had since the days of Steve McNair and Eddie George.
Manning chose to go to Denver and Tennessee found it’s own route. Manning went to two Super Bowl’s, and broke the single-season touchdown record by throwing 55 in 2013 while the Titans went through era’s of Vince Young, Jake Locker, and short term options of Matt Hassellback and Ryan Fitzpatrick.
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The obvious answer is that the Titans got the rough end of the decision with loosing seaonsas Manning rode into the sunset.
The more interesting question is if what would the Titans have been if Peyton came back to the Volunteer state?
The answer begins with what was around him. To start, the Titans had a star in running back Chris Johnson to complement Manning. Johnson’s burst and sleep could have been deadly with Manning’s audible’s, play action, and arm.
Tennessee’s receiving core was thin at the time with the likes of Kenny Britt, Randy Moss, and Nate Washington, but, could of been much more effective under Manning’s wing. If the Titans landed the half of famer’s services, it would of been expected for Tennessee to make a splash with a few signings of proven players in the NFL.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Titans were tough and gritty formidable led by cornerbacks Cortland Finnegan, Alterraun Verner, and young safety Michael Griffin. Lineman Jurrell Casey and top pick Derrick Morgan also perused the defense.
The Titans won nine games in 2011 and showed a mix of talent and might. While It is hard to accurately project how much success the Titans could of had with Peyton Manning under center due to roster uncertainty, it does not seem out of the question that the MVP would have led the hometown team to multiple playoff births.
The 120 Sports Crew takes a look at what could have been.