2008 NFL Draft Grade:
Jason Jones isn't a bad player. He'll help the Titans at defensive end, a problem area in the wake of both Antwan Odom and Travis LaBoy skipping town ...
Lavelle Hawkins was somewhat of a steal.
What the Titans are doing to Vince Young is a crime. In fact, Young should think about suing the Titans for incompetence. What in the world is Tennessee thinking? Why did they wait until pick No. 126 to address the weakest receiving corps in the NFL? Do they want to keep losing games because Young's wide outs keep dropping balls? I love the fact that Jeff Fisher is defending his acquisitions and stating that Mike Williams is in the mix. Right. Depending on Mike Williams is like loaning five grand to a desperate crack addict and expecting to get paid back on time. I can't believe I once thought Williams was a great draft choice. Though, in my defense, everyone did as well. The only reason the donut-eating receiver is still in the league is because there are dumb teams out there willing to give him a chance.
Who is Williams Hayes? He wasn't on the NFL prospect list. Thus, no one would have drafted him until the seventh round at the very earliest. Why take him in the fourth round? It doesn't make sense. The Titans would have been better served using the index card with Hayes' name on it as toilet paper. Even if he becomes a good player, which I doubt, taking him in the fourth is a joke ...
You'd think Tennessee wouldn't go after a player with character issues, but that's exactly what they did by drafting Stanford Keglar ...
Oh, and I haven't even talked about the first pick yet. Chris Johnson's a reach. The Titans utilized an early selection on a running back with a fast 40 time last year, which amounted to nothing. They clearly didn't learn a single thing. It's actually pretty embarrassing. Johnson in the second would have been fine, but at No. 24? How about, I don't know, a receiver!?
Grade give on 4/29/08: F-
2008 NFL Draft Picks:
24. Chris Johnson, RB, East Carolina
The Titans are either really dumb or really smart. I say that because they either didn't learn a single lesson from drafting Chris Henry last year. Or, they want Vince Young to fail. Either way, Tennessee is not putting itself in the best position to win. This is a huge reach. (Pick Grade: F)
54. Jason Jones, DE, Michigan State
I'm going to copy-paste this out of my 2008 Live NFL Draft Blog
because I can't think of anything better to say here:
Dear Vince Young,
We hate you. We will never give you a good receiver. We will surround you with crap like Justin McCareins and Eric Moulds. We want you to fail. We will salt your wounds and burn your lands. Death to the Philistines!
Titans Front Office (Pick Grade: F)
85. Craig Stevens, TE, California
What a surprise, the Titans pass on a receiver once again and reach for another player. (Pick Grade: D)
103. Williams Hayes, DE, Winston-Salem
Who!?!??!? This is the equivalent of a guy taking Rex Grossman in the ninth round of a fantasy league because he forgot his fantasy mag and is running out of players off the top of his head. Williams Hayes may also be an assassin the Titans front office has hired to take out Vince Young. (Pick Grade: Z-)
126. Lavelle Hawkins, WR, California
I can't believe it. The Titans finally took a receiver? What's the occasion? Did Vince Young threaten to sue? Did I expose Tennessee's plan to hire Williams Hayes to assassinate Young? Something's fishy. (Pick Grade: A)
134. Stanford Keglar, OLB, Purdue
Two solid picks in a row for the Titans. I guess Hell has frozen over and Sally Struthers has finally gone on a diet. Stanford Keglar is excellent depth for Tennessee. (Note: I've dropped this from an A to a C because it's been revealed that Keglar has some off-the-field issues. I'm not shocked.) (Pick Grade: C)
229. Cary Williams, CB, Washburn
Not surprising the Titans took a no-name. It is the seventh round though. (Pick Grade: C)
The Titans killed themselves repeatedly in 2007. Actually, to be more accurate, their receivers killed the team. Whether it was Brandon Jones' drop in field-goal territory against the Colts in Week 2, their multiple bobbles against the Broncos on Monday Night Football, or the fact that a pair of drops happened to be the first two plays of their postseason contest against the Chargers, it just seemed like Tennessee kept shooting itself in the foot. I thought they could have beaten the Chargers.
Titans cut WR Chris Davis (Wake Forest)
Titans sign WR Chris Davis (Florida State)
Titans cut DE Bryce Fisher
Titans cut OLB Robert Reynolds
Titans sign G Isaac Snell
Titans re-sign OT David Stewart
Titans re-sign K Rob Bironas
Titans re-sign CB Reynaldo Hill
Titans re-sign S Vincent Fuller
Titans trade CB Pacman Jones to the Cowboys for a fourth-round pick
Titans sign CB Chris Carr
Titans re-sign FB Ahmard Hall
Titans announce retirement of G Benji Olson
Titans sign OLB Josh Stamer
Titans re-sign S Donnie Nickey
Titans re-sign OT Daniel Loper
Titans sign TE Dwayne Blakley
Titans sign WR Justin McCareins
Titans sign G Jake Scott
Titans cut CB Kelly Herndon
Titans sign DE Jevon Kearse
Titans sign TE Alge Crumpler
Titans re-sign WR Justin Gage
Titans cut WR David Givens
Titans tender (second round) TE Bo Scaife
Titans tender (low) FS Vincent Fuller
Titans tender (low) FB Casey Cramer
Titans tender (low) Reynaldo Hill
Titans franchise DT Albert Haynesworth
- Two Wide Receivers: Uhhh... why draft a quarterback and surround him with crap at receiver? When Andy Reid did that to Donovan McNabb, I called it a fluke. But why has Tennessee done the same thing? The team better acquire two top-notch receivers this offseason. Re-signed Justin Gage; signed Justin McCareins and Chris Davis; drafted Lavelle Hawkins
- Defensive Tackle: I hate to keep harping about this, but facts are facts. In the three games Albert "The Hamstring" Haynesworth missed, Tennessee surrendered 31.7 points per game. Their season average was 18.6. Adding another powerful defensive tackle up front (Trevor Laws or Dre Moore - third round?) would play dividends should Haynesworth get injured again. Oh, and the Titans actually have to re-sign Haynesworth too. Can't forget that. Franchised Albert Haynesworth
- Defensive End: Antwan Odom and Travis LaBoy, both of whom are free agents, combined for 14 sacks. That figure, however, was a product of opposing offensive lines frequently double-teaming Haynesworth and Kyle Vanden Bosch. Tennessee could use a forceful pass-rusher across from Vanden Bosch. Drafted Jason Jones and Williams Hayes; signed Jevon Kearse
- Cornerback: Pacman Jones really screwed the Titans. A top-10 selection on a corner - wasted, just like that. Because Tennessee is chasing two teams who have Randy Moss, Wes Welker, Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne at receiver, the Titans need all the help they can get at defending explosive wide outs. They have the money to go after someone like Nnamdi Asomugha, but getting a cheap Randall Gay might be a wiser solution. Tendered Reynaldo Hill; signed Chris Carr; drafted Cary Williams
- Tight End: Ben Troupe sucks. This is yet another area where the Titans have neglected to find quality ammunition for Vince Young. There will be plenty of solid tight ends available in Rounds 3 or 4. Signed Alge Crumpler and Dwayne Blakley; tendered Bo Scaife; drafted Craig Stevens
- Return Specialist: Tennessee's longest kick return was 48 yards. Their longest punt return was 39 yards. An upgrade is needed here.
- Running Back: Chris Henry hasn't really impressed anyone thus far, while LenDale White continues to shatter weight scales wherever he goes. With Chris Brown hitting free agency, the Titans may want to bring in another running back to compete with White. Drafted Chris Johnson
- Outside Linebacker Depth: There isn't really much behind David Thornton and Keith Bulluck at outside linebacker. A mid-round selection can take care of this. Signed Josh Stamer
- Guard Depth: Left guard Jacob Bell, one of the top young players at his position in the NFL, is a free agent. The Titans have the cash to re-sign him, so that situation should work itself out. However, right guard Benji Olson will soon celebrate his 33rd birthday. Getting a successor isn't an immediate need, but it's something Tennessee should look into. Plus, it never hurts to have enough depth up front. Signed Jake Scott
Tennessee Titans Free Agents:
Salary Cap (As of Feb. 17): $40.85 million
Albert Haynesworth, Titans. Age: 27.
Titans franchise Albert Haynesworth
The Titans would be really dumb to not franchise Albert "The Hamstring" Haynesworth, one of the most dominant defensive players in the NFL. In the three games Haynesworth missed, Tennessee surrendered 31.7 points per game. Their season average was 18.6.
Rob Bironas (RFA), K. Age: 30.
Tendered by Titans (second round).
Rob "My" Bironas was 4-of-5 from beyond 50 yards and set an NFL record for eight field goals in a single game. You can't get much better than that.
Jacob Bell, G. Age: 27.
Signed with Rams (6 years, $24 million)
Jacob Bell is one of the top interior linemen in the NFL and consequently deserves a lot of money this offseason.
David Stewart (RFA). Age: 26.
Re-signed with Titans (1 year, $2.017 million)
One of the more underrated offensive tackles in the NFL, David Stewart could command a decent amount of money this offseason.
Ahmard Hall, FB. Age: 28.
Re-signed with Titans (1 year)
Tennessee's ground attack struggled when Ahmard Hall was out of the lineup.
Antwan Odom, DE. Age: 27.
Signed with Bengals (5 years, $29.5 million)
Antwan Odom had eight sacks last year and may ask for a lot of money. There are a few things that concern me here, however. First, prior to the 2007 campaign, Odom never had more than two sacks. And secondly, Odom's production could have been a product of teams focusing on Albert Haynesworth and Kyle Vanden Bosch.
Justin Gage, WR. Age: 27.
Re-signed with Titans (4 years, $14 million)
Justin Gage had three games of 90 or more yards to close the season, proving he can at least contribute in this league.
Bo scaife, Titans. Age: 27.
Tendered by Titans (second round).
Not a bad tight end, but Tennessee can do better.
Travis LaBoy, DE. Age: 27.
Signed with Cardinals (5 years, $22 million)
Travis LaBoy had six sacks last year, but keep in mind that defenses were paying attention to Albert Haynesworth and Kyle Vanden Bosch.
Reynaldo Hill, CB. Age: 26.
Re-signed with Titans (1 year)
Reynaldo Hill would be a solid backup on many teams, but I wouldn't break the bank on him.
Benji Olson, G. Age: 33.
Benji Olson's still getting it done at the age of 33, although he's considering retirement.
- Chris Brown, RB. Age: 27. - Signed with Texans (2 years)
- Daniel Loper, OT. Age: 26. - Re-signed with Titans
- Vincent Fuller, S. Age: 26. - Re-signed with Titans (1 year)
- Donnie Nickey, S. Age: 28. - Signed with Titans
- Randy Starks, DT. Age: 24. - Signed with Dolphins (5 years, $21 million)
- Robert Reynolds, OLB. Age: 27.
- Ben Hartsock, TE. Age: 28. - Signed with Falcons (4 years, $9 million)
- Ben Troupe, TE. Age: 26. - Signed with Buccaneers (2 years)
- Bryce Fisher, DE. Age: 31.
- Eric Moulds, WR. Age: 35.
- Gilbert Gardner, OLB. Age: 26. - Signed with Lions (1 year)
- Kelly Herndon, CB. Age: 31.
- David Givens, WR. Age: 28.
- Casey Cramer (RFA), Titans. Age: 26. - Received low tender from Titans
- Chris Davis (Wake Forest), WR. Age: 24.
Mike Williams, WR. Age: 24.
Mike Williams is one of the most worthless players in NFL history. He deserves no stars. Then again, he could buy one from me with all the money he stole from the Lions, Raiders and Titans.
Divisional Rival History:
Houston Texans: The Titans have won the last five matchups. Think Vince Young wants to beat the team that passed on him?
Indianapolis Colts: Like the Texans, Tennessee was able to break a long losing streak against Indianapolis in 2006. They split last season, but Peyton Manning sat out the second half in the finale.
Jacksonville Jaguars: If you watch old and improved NFL Primetime you might remember Chris Berman always saying, "The Titans know all and tell all at Alltel Stadium." That's because Tennessee used to own Jacksonville. That's not the case anymore; the Jaguars have claimed four of the past six.
Features to be Posted This Offseason:
- Detailed season preview
- Fantasy football projections
- Positional rankings
- Daily updates on free-agent signings
More 2008 NFL Offseason Pages:
DAL / NYG / PHI / WAS
CHI / DET / GB / MIN
ATL / CAR / NO / TB
ARZ / SF / SEA / STL
BUF / MIA / NE / NYJ
BAL / CIN / CLE / PIT
HOU /IND / JAX / TEN
DEN / KC / OAK / SD
Playoffs & Regular Season Results
Back to the 2008 NFL Offseason Page
2008 NFL Mock Draft
2008 NFL Free Agents
NFL Mock Draft Database
2008 NFL Draft Prospects
2009 NFL Mock Draft
2008 Tennessee Titans Analysis: Though I like to criticize the Titans' front office for making foolish decisions regarding the skill positions, they still happen to be a playoff contender because of their outstanding defense, stout offensive line, great coaching and Vince Young. They're not close to the Jaguars or Colts, but they're a good bet to make the postseason.
So, why all the bad-mouthing? Because Tennessee could be so much more if it made all the right moves. If it acquired a top-notch receiver and running back, and didn't spend its money on bums like Justin McCareins and Jevon Kearse, the franchise could quickly become a Super Bowl contender. Instead, look for another quick first-round exit - if that.
Projection: 10-6 (3rd in AFC South)
2008 Fantasy Football Rankings:
Vince Young: Determined to be more of a pocket passer for whatever reason, Vince Young's rushing numbers went down from 552 (in 2006) to 395 last season. Bad news for his fantasy owners. Young will never be an excellent passer, especially with his garbage receivers dropping dozens of balls every week.
Projected 2008 Fantasy Stats: 2,700 passing yards. 14 passing TDs. 350 rushing yards. 3 rushing TDs.
Projected 2008 Fantasy Points: 272.
LenDale White: He may be fat and lazy, but LenDale White managed 1,108 yards and seven touchdowns last season. Not bad. Unfortunately, his yards per carry was (3.7). If he stays ineffective, Chris Johnson may get more and more touches, unless he's a bust like Chris Henry.
Projected 2008 Fantasy Stats: 975 rushing yards. 70 receiving yards. 8 total TDs.
Projected 2008 Fantasy Points: 152.
Chris Johnson: The Titans love reaching for running backs named Chris who have awesome 40 times. This Chris, Johnson, should be better than last year's version, Henry. Johnson will get tons of catches out of the backfield, so he's worth some consideration late in PPR leagues.
Projected 2008 Fantasy Stats: 450 rushing yards. 400 receiving yards. 3 total TDs.
Projected 2008 Fantasy Points: 103.
Alge Crumpler: I don't know if it was Bobby Petrino or his own fat getting in the way, but Alge Crumpler took a year off last season. After a string of at least 770 receiving yards, Crumpler, who was overweight and drop-happy, managed just 444 to go along with his five touchdowns. Crumpler turns 31 soon, so maybe age is taking a toll on him as well. I like the idea of buying low, but there's a good possibility that Crumpler could be finished. I'd stay away.
Projected 2008 Fantasy Stats: 450 receiving yards. 4 TDs.
Projected 2008 Fantasy Points: 69.
Bo Scaife: Bo Scaife became Vince Young's favorite target last season. That meant 46 receptions, 421 yards and a grand total of one touchdown. Not much to like here.
Projected 2008 Fantasy Stats: 400 receiving yards. 2 TDs.
Projected 2008 Fantasy Points: 52.
Roydell Williams: Tennessee's sole promising receiver. Roydell Williams had at least three catches in every game but one after Week 8. Williams should keep improving, but I can't see him becoming a top-notch fantasy receiver. An offseason ankle injury could slow him down a bit.
Projected 2008 Fantasy Stats: 750 receiving yards. 5 TDs.
Projected 2008 Fantasy Points: 105.
Justin Gage: Vince Young has to depend on his receivers, but you don't. Justin Gage is the eptiome of mediocrity.
Projected 2008 Fantasy Stats: 625 receiving yards. 2 TDs.
Projected 2008 Fantasy Points: 74.
Lavelle Hawkins: Lavelle Hawkins isn't Tennessee's No. 3 receiver, but whoever that may be won't do much in the world of fantasy football, so I thought I'd bring up Hawkins. He seems like a great fit in the Titans' offense, so I'd consider him late in keeper leagues.
Projected 2008 Fantasy Stats: 200 receiving yards. 0 TDs.
Projected 2008 Fantasy Points: 20.
Rob Bironas: The King of Clutch 50-Yard Field Goals. Rob Bironas is one of the league's top kickers. He hit 4-of-5 from beyond 50 and 9-of-10 from 40-49 yards last season.
Projected 2008 Fantasy Stats: 31-35 FG (3-5 50+). 27 XP.
Projected 2008 Fantasy Points: 133.
Tennessee Defense: As long as Albert "The Hamstring" Haynesworth is healthy, the Titans will keep scoring totals low and get to the quarterback, meaning the secondary will notch some turnovers.
Projected Fantasy Ranking: Top 12 Defense.
Tennessee Titans (Last Year: 10-6)
2008 NFL Season Preview:
WR Justin McCareins, WR Chris Davis (Florida State), TE Alge Crumpler, TE Dwayne Blakley, G Jake Scott, G Isaac Snell, DE Jevon Kearse, OLB Josh Stamer, CB Chris Carr.
RB Chris Johnson, WR Lavelle Hawkins, TE Craig Stevens, DE Jason Jones, DE Williams Hayes, OLB Stanford Keglar, CB Cary Williams.
RB Chris Brown, WR David Givens, WR Chris Davis (Wake Forest), WR Mike Williams, TE Ben Troupe, TE Ben Hartsock, G Jacob Bell, G Benji Olson, DE Antwan Odom, DE Travis LaBoy, DE Bryce Fisher, DT Randy Starks, OLB Robert Reynolds, OLB Gilbert Gardner, CB Pacman Jones, CB Kelly Herndon.
2008 Tennessee Titans Offense:
It seems like I receive a barrage of e-mails from a particular fan base every summer. Two years ago, dozens of members of the Black Hole congregation "expressed" their displeasure with my 2-14 projected record for the Raiders. Thanks to Art Shell, the 2006 Raiders provided us with tons of laughs and great memories of what was one of the worst-coached and disciplined teams of all time. Prior to the 2007 campaign, Dolphins fans criticized my 2-14 projection for their squad. One e-mailer called 2-14 a "pipe dream." Turns out two victories really was a pipe dream for Miami; it would have went winless if Brian Billick didn't throw a game late in the year.
This year, Tennessee backers flooded my inbox. No hate mail or anything; just a bunch of fans asking me why I hate the Titans so much. It's not even close to hatred. I'm not biased for or against them in any way. I'm just frustrated with their front office. I feel like Vince Young is one of the better quarterbacks in the NFL, but doesn't really get a chance to prove himself with the garbage that management has surrounded him with. It's actually pretty similar to what the Eagles and Jaguars have done with Donovan McNabb and David Garrard, respectively. McNabb's trash included Torrance Small, Charles Johnson, Na Brown, Todd Pinkston, Freddie Mitchell and Billy McMullen. Garrard, meanwhile, has had to deal with Jerry Porter, Troy Williamson, Matt Jones, Reggie Williams, Dennis Northcutt and Ernest Wilford.
Contrary to what some of my e-mails have said, Tennessee's receiving corps is just as useless as the groups I just mentioned. Justin Gage led the squad with 55 receptions and 750 yards, which wasn't terrible, considering he had just three catches prior to Week 5. But it was more than the numbers; it was the inconsistency and dropped balls. Gage had only one reception for 19 yards in the 17-6 playoff defeat at San Diego. Brandon Jones disappointed in his third NFL season, registering a meager 21 receptions for 248 yards. Jones had a huge drop in Week 2 against the Colts that essentially lost the game for the Titans. Ancient receiver Eric Moulds and tight end Ben Troupe were also a waste, and are no longer with the team. Tight end Bo Scaife put up mediocre numbers (46 catches, 421 yards), but like everyone else, he was inconsistent.
In fact, of all of Young's targets, the only one who showed some promise was third-year Roydell Williams. After Week 8, there was only one occasion when Williams didn't register at least three receptions.
So, what did the Titans do to fix their receiving corps? Absolutely nothing. They signed Justin McCareins, one of the worst wide outs in the entire league. They waited until the fourth round to draft Lavelle Hawkins, who won't contribute much as a rookie unless he's the next Marques Colston. Based on Tennessee's failures with receivers, that's pretty doubtful. They also brought in Alge Crumpler. That may sound like a lucrative move, but Crumpler is far from the tight end he was in the early part of this decade. The 2007 version of Crumpler was overweight, lethargic and drop-happy, perhaps a result of his age (31) and injury history.
So, how have McNabb and Garrard survived? Well McNabb has been paired with Duce Staley and Brian Westbrook, while Garrard has worked with Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew. Young doesn't have that sort of luxury. LenDale White was 5,000 pounds overweight last year and consequently maintained a pedestrian 3.7 yards-per-carry average. White has spent the offseason working hard on racking up municipal infractions (he has a court date on July 29). Is White too lazy and overweight to commit an actual crime?
Meanwhile, it seems as though the Titans have given up on Chris Henry, who was their second-round selection in 2007. That was made clear when they chose Chris Johnson with their No. 1 pick in April. Johnson projects as a nice weapon out of the backfield, but who's to say Tennessee isn't making the same mistake all over again? They reached for a running back with an amazing 40 time a year ago, and it seems like they did the exact same thing in April. In theory, Johnson should be a decent complement to White, but I just can't trust the skill players the Titans like to draft.
I mentioned Tennessee's outstanding offensive line a bit earlier. Michael Roos has evolved into one of the elite left tackles in the NFL. Roos and David Stewart form an outstanding bookend-tackle tandem. There aren't many better in the league. The Titans signed Jake Scott to replace the retired Benji Olson. They've had success with former Colts before (Nick Harper, David Thornton), so Scott should be an effective replacement at right guard. Kevin Mawae, meanwhile, is an old man (37) at center, but he still got the job done last year.
One concern I have up front is at left guard, which was previously occupied by the outstanding Jacob Bell. Bell signed a huge contract with the Rams this offseason, leaving the gig open between Eugene Amano and Leroy Harris. Amano is currently favored to win the job, though he has only eight career starts under his belt. He replaced an injured Mawae late in the year. Harris, meanwhile, has no starts and has appeared in only five games.
I feel as though the Titans really handicapped themselves once again. They have a very stout offensive front and a quarterback who, in my opinion, could develop into an upper-echelon signal caller. Yet, their front office adamantly refuses to provide Young with any sort of help. They were 22nd in scoring last season, and they'll be around there once again in 2008.
2008 Tennessee Titans Defense:
Vince Young's detractors will argue that the real reason the Titans qualified for the Doggone Playoff is their defense, particularly Albert "The Hamstring" Haynesworth. I'm a fan of Young's, but I can't argue that Haynesworth wasn't the No. 1 reason the team reached the postseason.
The numbers speak for themselves. Tennessee was eighth in defense, allowing 18.6 points per game. Haynesworth played in 12 contests, and in them, the Titans yielded just 15.3 points per game. And in the four Haynesworth missed with a hamstring injury? Try 28.5 points. That's almost a two-touchdown difference! If Haynesworth hadn't missed a quarter of the season, there's no doubt in my mind he would have won Defensive Player of the Year. No defensive lineman in the entire NFL is as dominant as he is. If he stays healthy, the Titans are automatically a playoff-caliber squad.
Haynesworth isn't the only powerhouse on Tennessee's defensive front. Kyle Vanden Bosch racked up 12 sacks at right defensive end. He and Haynesworth were the reason marginal players like Antwan Odom and Travis LaBoy were able to accumulate 14 combined sacks (sorry, Bengals and Cardinals). Odom and LaBoy are gone, but even though they're both mediocre, they'll be missed because the Titans failed to acquire replacements for them. They reached for Williams Hayes (who may or may not be a real person) in the fourth round. They signed Jevon Kearse, who is way past his prime. They'll also have Bryce Fisher and his grand total of five tackles in nine games last season.
So, what happened to second-rounder Jason Jones? The Titans have decided to move him inside, where he'll compete for a starting job with Tony Brown to play right next to Haynesworth. Jones isn't even 275 pounds, so I can't say I quite get the move. Brown, who started every game in 2007 and registered 52 tackles and four sacks, is a solid player, but nothing special. I can't see Jones beating knocking him out of the lineup this year.
With the defensive front getting all the attention, Tennessee's linebacking corps is very underrated, as you can find tons of mock drafts always projecting them to draft a linebacker early. Though he just turned 31, Keith Bulluck is one of the elite weakside linebackers in the league. He hasn't missed a start since 2001, so I can't see him slowing down just yet. Thornton, the team's strongside linebacker, led the squad with 122 tackles. As for Ryan Fowler, the 26-year-old proved to be extremely effective versus the run last season. Unfortunately, he could be suspended for violating the league's substance abuse policy, as he was recently linked to a steroids dealer. If Fowler misses a portion of the 2008 campaign, he'll be replaced by Stephen Tulloch, whom the front office is high on. He's a bit undersized for my liking.
All of the pressure Tennessee's front four brought to the table (40 sacks in 2007) really helped out the secondary. Nick Harper was a great signing last spring, as he played remarkably well at corner. Unfortunately, Harper turns 34 in September, and should consequently begin declining. Across from Harper, Cortland Finnegan started every game in his second season. He was the reason why Michael Griffin played at free safety instead of corner. As a rookie, Griffin was inserted into the starting lineup in Week 8 and never looked back. He notched three interceptions late in the year, so maybe that's a sign of things to come. Rounding out the defensive backfield, Chris Hope is very solid at strong safety, but he's coming off neck surgery, so it's tough to say how he'll perform in 2008.
The Titans' stop unit will always be one of the league's finest as long as Haynesworth, Vanden Bosch and Bulluck are all healthy. I do have some concerns with the team not properly replacing the defensive ends it lost this offseason. If Tennessee applies less pressure on opposing quarterbacks, a somewhat shaky secondary could struggle.
2008 Tennessee Titans Schedule and Intangibles:
For years, Tennessee had maintained one of the preeminent home-field advantages in the NFL. They were 59-37 at Adelphia Coliseum prior to the 2004 season. However, the Titans are 14-18 at home since that year (5-3 in 2007).
Rob Bironas became a rich man this offseason, and he definitely deserved it. Bironas hit on 35-of-39 field-goal attempts in 2007, but more impressively he was 4-of-5 from 50-plus and 9-of-10 from 40 to 49.
Craig Hentrich had a meager 42-yard punting average, but that's because he placed 24 balls inside the opposing 20.
It's a shame Pacman Jones was suspended by the league because the Titans would have maintained the best special-teams unit in the NFL (except for maybe Chicago) if he were returning kicks for them. Instead, they had Michael Griffin, Chris Henry and Chris Davis in that role last season. All three failed to take one back to the house. Chris Carr will be the team's new return specialist, but he didn't do anything in Oakland last year. Tennessee surrendered a punt return for a touchdown itself in 2007.
The Titans have a pretty balanced schedule. Though they have to play the Colts twice, Jaguars twice, Packers, Browns and Steelers, they also get the luxury of beating up on the likes of the Bengals, Ravens, Chiefs, Jets and Lions. The final portion of Tennessee's schedule will prove to be difficult. The team will battle Cleveland, Pittsburgh and Indianapolis in three of its final four contests.
2008 Tennessee Titans Positional Rankings (1-5 stars):