Sunday, August 16, 2009
2009 NFL PREVIEW- Tennessee Titans
2008 RECORD: 13-3
(1st in AFC South)
HEAD COACH: Jeff Fisher
Key Additions: WR Nate Washington (FA/Steelers) QB Patrick Ramsey (FA/Broncos) CB Demarcus Faggins (FA/Texans) DL Jovan Haye (FA/Buccaneers)
Key Losses: DL Albert Haynesworth (FA/Redskins) WR Brandon Jones (FA/49ers) WR Justin McCareins (FA) OL Dan Loper (FA/Lions)
Offense: This is an area the Titans would like to see upgraded entering 2009 after finishing 21st in the NFL overall on offense, despite having the league's best record in 2008.
Quarterback Kerry Collins provides stability for the Titans following the meltdown of Vince Young early in the '08 season.
Collins threw sparingly, attempting only 415 passes while accumulating 2,676 yards and 12 touchdowns with just seven interceptions.
The running game is the top option for Tennessee and Head Coach Jeff Fisher has Chris Johnson and LenDale White returning in '09.
Johnson, a rookie last season, ran for 1,228 yards (4.9 ypc average) and scored nine touchdowns. Meanwhile, White rushed for 773 yards and scored 15 touchdowns. The fullbacks are Ahmard Hall and Quinton Ganther.
The wide receivers are Justin Gage, Nate Washington, Kenny Britt and Lavelle Hawkins. The Tight End is Alge Crumpler and Bo Scaife is the backup.
Scaife led Tennessee in receptions in 2008 with 58 catches for 561 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Gage hauled in 34 for 651 yards (19.1 ypc average) and six TDs. Washington played with defending Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh last year and had 40 catches for 631 yards and three touchdowns.
The offensive line is a good one that opens the holes for Johnson and White and provides great protection as Titans quarterbacks were sacked just 12 times overall in '08.
Tennessee has Kevin Mawae at center, Michael Ross and David Stewart at tackles and guards Eugene Amano and Jake Scott.
Defense: This was the reason for the team's success in 2008 as they registered 44 sacks and had 20 interceptions that accounted for the Titans finishing second in the NFL with a +14 turnover ratio.
The Titans lost their sack leader, Albert Haynesworth (8.5 in 2008) to free agency but do still have Kyle Vanden Bosch at Right Defensive End. The Left DE is Jevon Kearse. The defensive tackles will be Tony Brown and Jovan Haye, who comes to Tennessee from Tampa Bay via free agency.
The linebacking corps is made up of Stephen Tulloch in the middle and outside backers Dave Thornton and Keith Bulluck, who led the team last season with 98 tackles.
The secondary is one of the best in the NFL and enforces a strict hands-off policy when it comes to enemy air attacks.
Cornerbacks Cortland Finnegan (five picks in '08) and Nick Harper are both solid and safeties Michael Griffin (seven interceptions last season) and Chris Hope (four INT) simply add to the excellence in Tennessee's defensive backfield.
The Titans defense ranked second in the league, allowing just 234 points in '08 and were seventh overall in total defense, giving up 294 yards per game.
OUTLOOK: If the Titans want to repeat as AFC South division champions, they need to continue the excellent defense they played last year.
Losing Haynesworth is a blow, but the addition of Haye will help up front and the secondary has a nasty reputation as a hard-hitting, ball hawk unit.
This team is well coached by Fisher and his staff and that always helps them prepare for each week. It plays with a lot of emotion and on a sad note, during the off-season, former Titans quarterback Steve McNair was murdered and perhaps the team will devote the 2009 season to their former leader's memory.
Offensively, the Titans just might go back with Young if he can clear his mind and forget the ghosts of personal problems that seemed to plague him early last season. Collins was a steady leader at QB in '08 however, the playoff loss to Baltimore exposed some glaring weaknesses with the team's offense.
The Titans have to open it up more on offense because a ground game only goes so far and in the NFL, a team has to keep it's opponents honest on defense. There isn't a lot of success for teams so one-dimensional on offense.
A league best 13-3 finish last year was for naught as the Titans saw their Super Bowl hopes dashed by Baltimore in the divisional round of the playoffs. Don't expect a similar win-loss record in '09 but the team just might go further in the post-season this time around which would mean at least one playoff win.
In the rugged AFC South, a 10-6 record is no shame, especially if the Titans do get a playoff win. Anything can happen in the post-season as Arizona proved that last year. The Titans should make progress in the post-season, just not quite enough to satisfy their fans.
Week 1- at Pittsburgh (Sept. 10)
Week 2- vs. Houston (Sept. 20)
Week 3- at NY Jets (Sept. 27)
Week 4- at Jacksonville (Oct. 4)
Week 5- vs. Indianapolis (Oct. 11)
Week 6- at New England (Oct. 18)
Week 7- BYE WEEK
Week 8- vs. Jacksonville (Nov. 1)
Week 9- at San Francisco (Nov. 8)
Week 10- vs. Buffalo (Nov. 15)
Week 11- at Houston (Nov. 23)
Week 12- vs. Arizona (Nov. 29)
Week 13- at Indianapolis (Dec. 6)
Week 14- vs. St. Louis (Dec. 13)
Week 15- vs. Miami (Dec. 20)
Week 16- vs. San Diego (Dec. 25)
Week 17- at Seattle (Jan. 3)