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2007 Season Previews
Tennessee Titans (Last Year: 8-8)
Veteran Additions:
WR Justin Gage, MLB Ryan Fowler, CB Nick Harper, CB Kelly Herndon, S Bryan Scott.
Draft Picks:
RB Chris Henry, WR Paul Williams, WR Chris Davis, WR Joel Filani, OT Mike Otto, C LeRoy Harris, DE Jacob Ford, DT Antonio Johnson, CB Ryan Smith, S Michael Griffin.
Major Subtractions:
RB Travis Henry (DEN), WR Drew Bennett (STL), WR Bobby Wade (MIN), TE Erron Kinney, G Zach Piller (NYG), DT Robaire Smith (CLE), OLB Colby Bockwoldt (SF).

Offense This Year: If you're a Titans fan or an avid football enthusiast who follows every team like I do, you're going to look at my 2006 season preview to see where I predicted Tennessee to finish and what I said about Vince Young. So, there's no point in hiding it. Let me copy-paste a fragment of what I wrote a year ago: "I'm not even going to get into selecting Young over Matt Leinart; I'll eat crow if I'm wrong about this, but I believe that Leinart will be a much better pro than Young, who may have problems reading defenses in the NFL." Well, I'm eating crow right now, and I have to tell you that it tastes pretty good with ketchup. Ugh.

Problems reading defenses? Who needs to read defenses when you can run around and make defenders look like fools? Despite Tennessee's 0-5 commencement to the season, Young was actually 8-5 as a starter, single-handedly winning a few games on his own. He rushed for 552 yards and seven touchdowns, embarrassing those like myself and Merril Hoge, who doubted his potential as a starting quarterback in the NFL.

That said, Young must improve his passing ability if he wants to take the Titans deep into the postseason. He threw for more interceptions (13) than touchdowns (12), and while he picked up his play in December 2006, he completely struggled to get anything going against the Patriots in a must-win contest; New England restricted him to 15-of-36 for 227 yards, no aerial scores and two picks. He also fumbled twice and rushed for only 29 yards.

I believe Young has what it takes to make himself an elite NFL signal caller. It doesn't look like it'll happen this year, however. Gone are leading rusher Travis Henry (1,211 yards, 7 TDs) and top receivers Drew Bennett (737 yards, 3 TDs) and Bobby Wade (461 yards, 2 TDs). Three running backs who will be competing for the starting gig are the oft-injured Chris Brown, unproven rookie Chris Henry, who couldn't even start at the University of Arizona, and LenDale White (244 yards, 0 TDs, 4.0 ypc), who spends more time at McDonalds than he does on the practice field. Meanwhile, the wide-out situation is extremely complicated. Brandon Jones (384 yards, 4 TDs) is slated to start across from David Givens (eight receptions in five games last year). Third-round rookie Paul Williams and the overpaid Justin Gage are currently behind them.

At least all five members of the line are back. The group's actually pretty solid; it surrendered just four sacks to the immobile Kerry Collins when he was in there, and allowed Travis Henry to rumble for 4.5 yards per carry. It's good to know Young has at least a few offensive teammates he can count on.

Defense This Year: Let's see... We have a man who stomps on players laying on the ground who don't have their helmets on. We have a guy who incites riots by throwing thousands of dollars in the air at a strip joint. And we have a group of players who have no idea how to locate opposing quarterbacks, even though it's their job.

In case you have no idea what I'm talking about, I was referring to the antics of Albert Haynesworth, Pacman Jones and Tennessee's defensive front. The Titans registered only 26 sacks in 2006, which explains why their defense yielded 37 or more points on four occasions. Their entire line is back, but I don't know if that's a good thing. Top sack-artist Kyle Vanden Bosch needs to revert back to 2005 form if Tennessee wants to have any success stopping other teams from scoring; Vanden Bosch notched only 6.5 sacks last season, a drop from 12.5 a year before. The player who was next on the sack list was Travis LaBoy, who collected just 3.5. It boggles my mind why owner Bud Adams didn't go after an elite pass rusher despite having tons of money to spend.

As bad as the Titans were at getting to the quarterback, they played the pass pretty well toward the latter stages of the season. That's because Pacman emerged as a lockdown corner, capable of taking any poorly thrown ball to the house. Tennessee added free-agent Nick Harper, who was the No. 1 in Indianapolis, and rookie Michael Griffin to an already-sound secondary. Problem is, Pacman is suspended for what could be the entire 2007 season. That obviously makes the defensive-back corps considerably worse. It doesn't even matter if Tennessee signs former Seahawk Kelly Herndon; the safeties are mediocre, Griffin is way too young and inexperienced, while Harper will be playing in a new scheme.

With the horrendous pass rush and troubled secondary the Titans possess, they must be able to stop the run, right? If only that were the case. Tennessee was ranked 24th against opposing ground attacks in 2006, permitting 4.5 yards per carry. It seemed like outside linebacker Keith Bulluck was the only talented player in the front seven. Once again, I'm really confused as to why Adams didn't upgrade any of the areas responsible for putting the clamps on running backs.

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 9-15 at home since that year. Let's see if Young can revitalize that. ... Craig Hentrich is an expert at nailing punts inside the 20, while Rob Bironas seemed to kick game-winning field goals every single week. He was only 5-of-10 from beyond 40 yards, but he made the important ones count. ... Pacman's suspension also damages Tennessee's special-teams unit; the hungry yellow guy returned three punts for touchdowns. The team's alternate option, Bobby Wade, is also gone. ... Prior to their bye, the Titans play Jacksonville, Indianapolis and New Orleans. They also have a stretch where they battle Carolina, Jacksonville, Denver and Cincinnati. Three of their four final contests are against the Chargers, Jets and Colts. No love from the schedule-maker, huh?

Additional Reading: Endless Banter coming soon.

Positional Rankings (0-4 stars):
Quarterbacks
Offensive Line
Secondary
Running Backs
Defensive Line
Special Teams
Receivers
No stars
Linebackers
Coaching


Divisional Rival History:
Houston Texans: The Titans have won the last three matchups. Think Vince Young wants to beat the team that passed on him?
Indianapolis Colts: Tennessee was able to break a long losing streak against Indianapolis in the second meeting last year. With Vince Young at the helm for the Titans, I expect the Colts' pure dominance over Tennessee to come to an end.
Jacksonville Jaguars: If you watch old videos of NFL Primetime like I do, you'll hear Chris Berman say, "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 three of the past four.

Fantasy Football:
Vince Young: You can't like the fantasy prospects of a guy who doesn't have great passing stats, and has lost his starting running back and top two receivers. But this is Vince Young we're talking about. His rushing numbers make him a solid fantasy player.
Projected Stats: 2,800 passing yards. 16 passing TDs. 600 rushing yards. 7 rushing TDs.
Projected Fantasy Points: 338.

LenDale White: I'm not really sure what to make of Tennessee's running back situation. LenDale White's listed as the starter, but Chris Henry may take over. Maybe Jeff Fisher will promise to give White a cheeseburger if he runs for 150 yards per game. He'd definitely gain 2,400 yards - no problem.
Projected Stats: 500 rushing yards. 140 receiving yards. 3 total TDs.
Projected Fantasy Points: 82.

Chris Henry: Probably more motivated of the two running backs, assuming no food is involved. Chris Henry couldn't start at the University of Arizona. Then again, Willie Parker was also a reserve in college.
Projected Stats: 350 rushing yards. 50 receiving yards. 3 total TDs.
Projected Fantasy Points: 58.

Ben Troupe: This offense is too statistically dreadful to warrant any sort of fantasy consideration. Look at other tight ends.
Projected Stats: 350 receiving yards. 3 TDs.
Projected Fantasy Points: 53.

Bo Scaife: Not much here either from Young's other tight end.
Projected Stats: 410 receiving yards. 2 TDs.
Projected Fantasy Points: 53.

Brandon Jones: Brandon Jones caught five passes for 101 yards and a touchdown in Week 16. A glimmer of hope? Probably not - he had zero receptions the week before and only one catch the week after. Still, he's the No. 1 wide out. Someone has to catch the ball, right?
Projected Stats: 650 receiving yards. 6 TDs.
Projected Fantasy Points: 101.

David Givens: Vastly overrated. Should have stayed with New England. Tom Brady transformed this very mediocre wide out into what looked like an emerging star. No fantasy value here.
Projected Stats: 500 receiving yards. 2 TDs.
Projected Fantasy Points: 62.

Paul Williams: Could be worth a late-round pick in keeper leagues, but don't expect anything from this rookie wide out this season.
Projected Stats: 250 receiving yards. 0 TDs.
Projected Fantasy Points: 25.

Rob Bironas: Rob Bironas only hit 22 field goals last year. Keep in mind that he was hindered by Kerry Collins and Vince Young's early growing pains. In December, Bironas was nailing about three kicks per game. He's also good for a 50-yarder or two per season.
Projected Stats: 25-33 FG (2-4 50+). 37 XP.
Projected Fantasy Points: 123.

Tennessee Defense: You're getting a defense with no sacks and no Pacman interceptions. Pass.
Projected Fantasy Ranking: Bottom 5 Defense.

Analysis: Without Travis Henry, Drew Bennett and Bobby Wade, Vince Young will be asked to carry the team on his shoulders once again. While he's good for a few fourth-quarter comebacks on his own, the Titans have no shot at the playoffs with the garbage they've put around him.

Projection: 7-9 (3rd in the AFC South)


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