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Friday August 29, 2008 12:30 pm

NFL Preview: Tennessee Titans

Posted by Dean Browski Categories: NFL,

Vince Young of the Tennessee Titans

2007 RECORD: 10-6

Overview: Jeff Fisher is the most underrated head coach in the NFL. The fact that he took last year’s Tennessee Titans to the playoffs despite having a horrible Vince Young at the helm, and without Albert Haynesworth for most of the year on defense was a minor miracle. Granted, had the Indianapolis Colts starters played the regular season finale, the Titans would have lost and the Cleveland Browns would have made the playoffs. The Titans’ two wins prior to playing the Colts JV team were against the New York Jets and Kansas City Chiefs.

Offense: Young threw 9 TDs and 17 INTs last year and if those stats don’t say it, let me say it - “He was downright awful!” Offensive coordinator Norm Chow was fired in the offseason, replaced by Mike Heimerdinger.  TE Alge Crumpler will give Young a sure-handed, large target to hit, and the short passes may go a long way to restoring some of Young’s confidence. It is reasonable to think that the lack of a deep threat may harm the Titans, but what good would a deep threat be if there isn’t somebody to deliver the ball? The Titans running game will be led by LenDale White who accumulated 1,108 yards on the ground last year, and it will be supported by Chris Henry (the one without the long rap sheet) and rookie Chris Johnson out of East Carolina. Not sure how they will run the ball when no one will respect their passing game. The Jets used to be called the New York Titans, now the Tennessee Titans will resemble the Jets of last year when teams loaded the box and dared them to throw. It’s a good bet for the opposition and a bad situation for the Titans.

Defense: When your offense is as bad as the Titans was last year, the defense has to step up and the Titans D did just that. They ranked in the Top 10 in most defensive categories and did it without Albert Hanyesworth for part of the year and without Adam “Pacman” Jones for the whole season. When Haynesworth returned, his presence was immediately felt, and when he wasn’t in, boy oh boy, was he missed. Haynesworth missed Weeks 10, 11, and 12 that saw the Titans give up 28, 34 and 35 points respectively. Keith Bulluck is a solid LB but the supporting cast around Bulluck and Hanyesworth leave much to be desired. The Titans missed Pacman Jones (he was still Pacman when he was with the Titans) on defense, but even more so on special teams as Jones is a premier punt returner. The Titans defense overperformed last year, and while the unit isn’t bad, it isn’t great. And that isn’t good news for a team with a bad offense.

Rookies: Previously mentioned Johnson from East Carolina can fly and will play early for the Titans. After him, this rookie class is not anything to write home about just yet. Jason Jones from Eastern Michigan doesn’t seem to be NFL-ready and Chris Stevens, TE from Cal, is suited for blocking as his speed is lacking but his frame is not.

Prediction: If the Titans want to avoid the cellar in the AFC South then they better beat the Houston Texans the two times they meet. Beating them twice last year, along with a soft schedule down the stretch, allowed the Titans to get into the playoffs. The Texans continued to improve in the offseason and the Titans did not. Combine that with a tough stretch through Weeks 7 – 11, and it doesn’t look good for the Titans. As I look at their schedule I am comfortable in penciling in only two wins. I think that their defense is good enough to get a few more, but I predict that the Titans will go 5-11 in 2008.

View All of Dean Browski’s 2008 NFL Team Projections



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