QB Chris Simms, OLB Will Witherspoon, CB Tye Hill.
Early Draft Picks:
DE Derrick Morgan, WR Damian Williams, OLB Rennie Curran, CB Alterraun Verner, FS Robert Johnson, SS Myron Rolle.
RB LenDale White, TE Alge Crumpler, C Kevin Mawae, DE Kyle Vanden Bosch, DE Jevon Kearse, DT Kevin Vickerson, OLB Keith Bulluck, CB Nick Harper, P Craig Hentrich.
2010 Tennessee Titans Offense:
Any discussion regarding Tennessee's offense has to focus around Chris Johnson. The most breath-taking player in the NFL, Johnson eclipsed the 2,000-yard rushing barrier last year and nearly broke Eric Dickerson's single-season record. Johnson totaled 2,006 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns on a 5.6-yard average. He also led the team with 50 catches for 503 receiving yards.
Johnson undoubtedly has the talent to shatter Dickerson's heralded mark, but can he remain injury-free in 2010? The running back to lead the NFL in carries often suffers a sharp decline the following season. Johnson's 358 attempts may not seem like much compared to some of the other players on that list, but Johnson is only 5-11, 200 pounds. It's logical to assume his body is prone to breaking down more easily than some of the 220-pound runners.
If Johnson stays healthy and Vince Young doesn't regress (more on that later), Tennessee's offense shouldn't have any trouble scoring against most defenses. The Titans averaged 22.1 points per game in 2009, but that figure was 27.0 when both Young and Johnson were in the lineup. Opposing stop units simply had no idea to stop Tennessee's dual rushing attack.
Young's passing on the other hand, leaves much to be desired. The good news is that Young tossed 10 touchdowns to seven picks, and maintained a solid 7.3 YPA. The bad news is that he completed just 58.7 percent of his passes, and he was abysmal in a must-win game against the Chargers, pitifully going 8-of-21 for just 89 yards and two interceptions.
Young won't be able to blame his struggles on the receiving corps or offensive line in 2010. Kenny Britt, who led all Titans with 701 receiving yards, will be better in his second year. Nate Washington will be more familiar with the offense, while the sharp route-running rookie Damian Williams could compete for playing time against Justin Gage.
The offensive front, meanwhile, is perhaps the best in the business. Michael Roos and David Stewart are a prolific pair of tackles. Right guard Jake Scott and center Eugene Amano are sound run-blockers. The only question is left guard Leroy Harris, who has barely played in his three NFL seasons.
2010 Tennessee Titans Defense:
Though the Titans would have been crazy to match Daniel Snyder's insane offer for Albert Haynesworth an offseason ago, the fact remains that they really missed his dominant presence in the interior of their defense. Tennessee saw its second-ranked defense of 2008 fall all the way to 28th in 2009. The Titans were second versus the run and fourth against the pass in 2008, but just 11th and 31st respectively in those departments last year. Tennessee's sack total dropped from 44 to 32.
To bounce back to 2008 form, the Titans had to acquire a disruptive pass-rusher this spring. They did so in the 2010 NFL Draft, where they used the 16th pick on Derrick Morgan. Morgan is a skilled defensive end, but in addition to suffering multiple injuries in minicamp, he was arrested for driving with a suspended license. That's not exactly the start Tennessee was looking for from its first-round rookie.
Joining Morgan at end are William Hayes and Jacob Ford, who collected four and 5.5 sacks respectively in 2009. Tennessee's top pass rusher last year, Tony Brown, starts at defensive tackle alongside either Jovan Haye or Jason Jones, both of whom are liabilities against the run.
The Titans' secondary figures to be better this season, mainly because Cortland Finnegan is healthy again. Finnegan struggled early on with a nagging hamstring injury, but finished strong. He's one of the top cornerbacks in the NFL.
One of the worst corners last year was Nick Harper, who remained in the starting lineup despite his obvious struggles. Harper is finally gone, so Jason McCourty and Ryan Mouton will compete for the right to start across from Finnegan. The favorite is now McCourty because Rod Hood tore his ACL in minicamp.
Like Finnegan, free safety Michael Griffin will improve upon his 2009 campaign because he's healthy again. The talented Griffin was awful last year due to a nagging shoulder injury. Strong safety Chris Hope is solid in run support.
Tennessee's linebacking corps is a bit questionable right now. The only sure thing is inside linebacker Stephen Tulloch, who is looking for a well-deserved lucrative long-term deal. The two new starters are Gerald McRath and Will Witherspoon, who will play on the strong and weak sides, respectively.
McRath is only in his second year, but was completely abused in a must-win Christmas game against the Chargers. Making matters worse, he's suspended for the first eight games of the season for violating the substance abuse policy. Witherspoon, signed away from the Eagles, is pretty skilled, but would be much more effective playing in the middle.
2010 Tennessee Titans Schedule and Intangibles:
Distractions can really be detrimental to an NFL team, and that's exactly what Jeff Fisher needs to worry about now. Derrick Morgan's arrest was already mentioned. Chris Johnson is threatening to hold out because his salary is only $550,000. But worst of all, Vince Young had an assault citation issued against him on June 13. The last thing any NFL team needs is its quarterback to have legal issues. Roger Goodell could suspend Young, but whether he does or doesn't, the damage has been done. There's no possible way Young is focused on football right now.
Tennessee lost its pristine homefield advantage between 2005 to 2007, but seemed to have reclaimed it. The team is 12-5 as a host the past two years.
Rob Bironas became a rich man two offseasons ago, and he definitely deserved it. Last year, Bironas was "just" 27-of-32, but nailed 5-of-6 from 50-plus and 10-of-12 from 40-49.
Brett Kern took over for Craig Hentrich last year and performed admirably. He averaged 45 yards per punt and placed 18-of-37 boots inside the 20.
The Titans struggled on kick returns last year, but punt returner Alvin Pearman averaged 10.2 yards per attempt. They failed to score on special teams and allowed a touchdown of their own.
Tennessee better start the year 4-0 or 3-1. Its first four games are against the Raiders, Ben Roethlisberger-less Steelers, Giants and Broncos. A 2-2 beginning could be disastrous because three of the next four contests are versus the Cowboys, Eagles and Chargers. Making matters worse, the Titans battle the Colts twice in the final four weeks of the season.
2010 Tennessee Titans Analysis: Under normal circumstances, the Titans would be projected to go somewhere around 9-7 or 10-6. Unfortunately, there are way too many distractions. Tennessee's quarterback is facing legal issues and a possible suspension, which could occur during the easy portion of the team's schedule.
With Vince Young's ugly situation, Chris Johnson's holdout threats and high injury probability, and Derrick Morgan's numerous problems, there are just way too many indications that 2010 could be a disastrous and disappointing season for the Titans.
The Titans took no prisoners in the 2010 NFL Draft. Every pick they made in the first six rounds, save for the Rusty Smith selection, was a thing of beauty. They somehow managed to obtain the top player on their board and fill their major needs at the same time.
There's nothing else to say. Tennessee's front office deserves an A+.
Overall 2010 NFL Draft Grade given on 4/26/10: A+
2010 NFL Draft Individual Grades:
16. Derrick Morgan, DE, Georgia Tech
Amazing. The Titans get the top-rated defensive end at No. 16. We can see why the Titans are always in position to make the playoffs. (Pick Grade: A)
77. Damian Williams, WR, USC
There is absolutely no reason Damian Williams should have went this late. He's a great route-runner and projects as a pefect complement for Kenny Britt. (Pick Grade: A)
97. Rennie Curran, OLB, Georgia
A great fit for this defense, Rennie Curran will challenge Gerald McRath to replace Keith Bulluck. He fits the range and fills the team's No. 3 need heading into the 2010 NFL Draft (DE, CB, OLB). (Pick Grade: A)
104. Alterraun Verner, CB, UCLA
The Titans acquired this pick by trading LenDale White to the Seahawks. They fill a need, and Alterraun Verner is close to this range. (Pick Grade: B)
148. Robert Johnson, FS, Utah
You need secondary depth when you're playing Peyton Manning and Matt Schaub four times per year. Robert Johnson is good value here. (Pick Grade: A)
176. Rusty Smith, QB, Florida Atlantic
Wow, I did not think this guy was going to be drafted. The Titans need a developmental guy behind Vince Young. (Pick Grade: C)
207. Myron Rolle, SS, Florida State
Like everyone else, I love this pick. Myron Rolle should not have fallen past the fourth round. Safeties need to be smart, and there's no doubting Rolle's intelligence. Worst-case scenario, if he doesn't pan out at all, this is a good PR move for the Titans. But I'll be surprised if he busts. (Pick Grade: A)
222. Marc Mariani, WR, Montana
The second guy I had to look up. This guy faces an uphill battle to make the team. (Pick Grade: C)
241. David Howard, DT, Brown
Honestly, not very familiar with this guy; didn't have him in my rankings. Not surprised that the Titans got a defensive tackle though. (Pick Grade: C)
Key Undrafted Free Agents:
LeGarrette Blount, RB
Stafon Johnson, RB
The Titans really have to be commended for how they handled the second half of their season. At 0-6, they could have easily thrown in the towel. Instead, they regrouped, changed quarterbacks, won five straight and eventually finished at .500.
Titans sign RB Samkon Gado
Titans sign DE Raheem Brock
Giants sign LB Keith Bulluck
Titans re-sign ILB Stephen Tulloch
Titans waive WR Mark Jones
Seahawks acquire RB LenDale White and DT Kevin Vickerson from Titans for exchange of 4th- and 6th-round picks
Titans re-sign DT Tony Brown
Titans re-sign RB LenDale White
Titans re-sign DT Kevin Vickerson
Titans sign QB Chris Simms
Titans sign CB Tye Hill
Patriots sign TE Alge Crumpler
Titans sign DE Jason Babin
Titans re-sign DE Dave Ball
Titans re-sign TE Bo Scaife
Titans re-sign CB Rod Hood
Titans sign LB Will Witherspoon
Lions sign DE Kyle Vanden Bosch
Titans re-sign S Donnie Nickey
Titans re-sign OLB Colin Allred
Titans re-sign OT Mike Otto
Titans announce retirement of P Craig Hentrich
Titans re-sign G Eugene Amano
Defensive End: Defensive end is Tennessee's No. 1 need. The Titans weren't able to get any sort of pressure on Philip Rivers without blitzing in a must-win game on Christmas Eve. With a number of expiring contracts at defensive end this offseason, their first-round selection will be spent on a pass-rusher like Jason Pierre-Paul or Everson Griffen. Drafted Derrick Morgan; signed Jason Babin
Cornerback: Watching Nick Harper attempt to cover in 2009 was really disturbing. He was constantly burnt, and understandably so, given his age (35). Luckily, the corner position is very deep in the 2010 NFL Draft. Drafted Alterraun Verner; signed Tye Hill
Weakside Linebacker: Keith Bulluck was having a great 2009 campaign until he tore his ACL in December. At 33, he won't be the same player again. And if this wasn't bad enough... Signed Will Witherspoon
Strongside Linebacker: David Thornton was also thrown on IR with a chronic shoulder injury. Thornton is entering his contract year. A Round 2-4 selection will need to be used on an outside linebacker. Drafted Rennie Curran
Defensive Tackle: Only if the Titans can get an impact player next to Tony Brown. They have plenty of solid depth at the position.
Return Specialist: The Titans struggled on kick returns all year; Kenny Britt and Mark Jones averaged only 21.8 and 20.3 yards per return, respectively.
Offensive Line Depth: Once Kevin Mawae hangs it up, the Titans will need to find someone to compete with Leroy Harris for the starting center position. Meanwhile, depth should be added; the offensive front isn't going to remain healthy every season.
Special Teamers: The Titans had trouble defending kickoff returns in 2009.
2010 NFL Free Agent Signings:
Will Witherspoon, ILB, Eagles. Age: 30. Signed with Titans (3 years, $11 million; $5 million guaranteed)
Will Witherspoon is a very good inside linebacker, but struggled a bit down the stretch when the Eagles moved him to the weak side. Having Witherspoon play the middle and moving Stewart Bradley to the strong side would have made sense for 2010, but Philadelphia simply didn't want to pay Witherspoon his $5 million bonus.
Raheem Brock, DE, Colts. Age: 32. -- Signed with Titans
Tye Hill, CB, Falcons. Age: 28. -- Signed with Titans (1 year)
Samkon Gado, RB, Rams. Age: 27. -- Signed with Titans
Chris Simms, QB, Broncos. Age: 30. -- Signed with Titans
Tennessee Titans Free Agents:
Salary Cap (As of Feb. 18): No cap.
Tony Brown (RFA), DT, Titans. Age: 29. Re-signed with Titans (3 years)
At 285 pounds, Tony Brown is a liability against the run, but he gives the Titans a great interior pass-rushing option.
Stephen Tulloch (RFA), ILB, Titans. Age: 25. Re-signed with Titans (1 year, $2.5 million)
A decent middle linebacker who excels against the run.
Kevin Mawae, C, Titans. Age: 39.
Even at 39, Kevin Mawae just keeps getting it done. He's not the center he once was, but he's still playing at a high level.
Started 15 games for the Titans in 2009 and allowed only half a sack. Eugene Amano, who can play center as well, is best at run blocking.
Alge Crumpler, TE, Titans. Age: 32. Signed with Patriots
Alge Crumpler is no longer a pass-catching option, but he's a very good blocker for a tight end.
Craig Hentrich, P, Titans. Age: 39.
Keith Bulluck, OLB, Titans. Age: 33. Signed with Giants (1 year)
Keith Bulluck was having a very solid year until he tore his ACL in December. At 33, Bulluck may never be the same player again.
Rod Hood, CB, Titans. Age: 28. Re-signed with Titans
Jeff Fisher made a big mistake playing Nick Harper over Rod Hood toward the end of the 2009 season. Philip Rivers torched Harper on Christmas. Hood, meanwhile, played well when he was given the chance to start.
Bo Scaife (RFA), TE, Titans. Age: 29. Re-signed with Titans (1 year, $4.9 million)
A favorite target of Vince Young's, Bo Scaife caught at least four passes in five of his last seven games.
Kyle Vanden Bosch, DE, Titans. Age: 31. Signed with Lions (4 years, $26 million)
Both age and Albert Haynesworth's departure ruined Kyle Vanden Bosch's 2009 campaign. He registered only three sacks.
LenDale White (RFA), RB, Titans. Age: 25. Traded to Seahawks
Interesting that LenDale White lost 30 pounds in his contract year. Don't worry, guys. Once some team signs White to a long-term deal, he'll begin consuming tequila and doughnuts again.
Kevin Vickerson (RFA), DT, Titans. Age: 27. -- Traded to Seahawks
Jevon Kearse, DE, Titans. Age: 34.
Nick Harper, CB, Titans. Age: 35.
Colin Allred (ERFA), OLB, Titans. Age: 27. -- Re-signed with Titans
Dave Ball (RFA), DE, Titans. Age: 29. -- Re-signed with Titans (1 year, $1.8 million)
Donnie Nickey, S, Titans. Age: 30. -- Re-signed with Titans
Mike Otto (RFA), OT, Titans. Age: 27. -- Re-signed with Titans
Divisional Rival History: Houston Texans: The Texans have existed now for seven years. In those seven seasons, they've only beaten the Colts once out of 14 times. It would have been twice if it wasn't for Sage Rosenchoker's epic self-debaclation. Indianapolis Colts: The Colts own the Titans again, having won the past three matchups. Jacksonville Jaguars: If you watched old and improved NFL Primetime you might remember that Chris Berman always said, "The Titans know all and tell all at Alltel Stadium." That's definitely true; Tennessee has won five of the previous seven in this heated rivalry.
Features to be Posted This Offseason:
2010 NFL Draft Grades (Pick-by-Pick NFL Draft Grades as well - Live on Draft Day!)
Rockies and Diamondbacks fail yesterday, at least the Astros and Nats came through. For today: Closing two pars with Red Sox-178 in one and Nats -+169 in the other. In another ongoing par going in the second tier spot of a four team par will be the Astros -205. Start up par with the Dodgers -163, (Kershaw), two open. Still thinking about the Yankees in a start up. GLTA today.
@Bear Down He didn't do a horrible job even if Mitch doesn't pan out, I do believe Shaheen is going to be a monster TE for the Bears for quite a while. However Adams wouldve raised the level of the defense but Demps is a decent player and a veteran which might be just what this young secondary needs.