The Titans will be at destiny's door again in 09 but will they find the key to open it?

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When the Titans were the Houston Oilers, then head coach Buddy Ryan said that they had knocked on the door of the AFC Championship a couple of times and promised to kick it down next year. They didn’t and he was gone a season later.

For most of last year, the Titans were considered by nearly everyone the best team in the AFC if not the NFL. Then they lost to the Jets and that seemed to take the heart out of the team. They ended up doing what they have for all the Super Bowls but 2000—watching from the sidelines. This year could be different, but don’t bet the house on it unless you have a balloon payment due on it soon. Chances are 4-1 they will be the second or third best team in the conference. It will take luck and avoiding injuries to get the Titans to big game.

Former starting quarterback Vince Young will be fighting a possibly terminal case of splinters from carrying the clip board all year. Kerry Collins is the starter and Young has done absolutely nothing to win over the coaching staff or the team other than run his mouth. Collins is calm, accurate, very instinctive and has an above average arm. Young has an above average mouth and arm but has yet to put in the time to learn the playbook or read defenses on the fly.

The Titans have an outstanding running game. The Titans knew that rookie Chris Johnson was fast but they had no idea that he could run inside the way he does. He is establishing himself as one of the top half dozen runners in the league and can take a simple plunge or wheel route to the endzone. USC second banana LenDale White will have the same role this year in Tennessee. White has slimmed down to 229 and looks faster while not losing his power. He is in a contract year and won’t be back in 2010. FB Ahmard Hall is vastly underrated.

The Titans got Steeler UFA WR Nate Washington to sign and he will start opposite last year wideout Justin Gage. Washington was the 3rd WR last year in Pittsburgh but is expected to be the deep threat and top option in 09. He is not a top 15 WR. Gage will be the possession pass catcher and is good at that role. The reserves are thin with that group including the talented but baby bean green Kenny Britt and a bunch of stiffs.

The team will use 2 TEs a lot again and have a couple of the best in the league. Bo Scaife and Alge Crumpler can both block and catch. Neither will get deep but can control the short middle of the field.

The O line isn’t full of brand names but the line works well together and is rock solid. LT Michael Roos, C Kevin Mawae and RG Jake Scott are all pro bowl quality and starters LG Eugene Amano RT David Stewart are good in this system and getting better. Backup C/G Leroy Harris is capable of filling in any of the inside spots.

The one question mark on the team is the D line’s ability to continue to play at a high level without the traded DT Albert Haynesworth. Tony Brown who played LDT will probably get that job with Jason Jones replacing Brown unless either Jovan Haye or Sen’Derrick Marks take his place. RDE Kyle Vanden Bosch is going to have to return to top form after a groin problem last year and Dave Ball will play opposite him on first and second down. The freak Jevon Kearse returns to the Titans this season and should be a force again in passing situations.

RLB Keith Bulluck leads the backers and is outstanding. LLB David Thornton, MLB Stephen Tulloch are both fine but there is no quality depth so all three will have to stay healthy. Their success will in large part be determined by how well the D line makes up for Hayesworth’s absence.

The Titans have one of the very best D back groups in the league. CBs Nick Harper and Cortland Finnegan join FS Michael Griffin and SS Chris Hope to form a group all playing at a pro bowl level. Backups FS/Nickel back Vincent Fuller and SS Donnie Nickey provide both experience and ability.

OVERALL: The Titans are among the top 5 teams in the league in terms of talent. They have to stay healthy as do their competitors to get to the big game. But the Titans also have to overcome their tendency of losing to the Steelers, Pats and Colts in big games. Each of those teams seem to have the mental edge against Tennessee. This year they could well overcome their past losses and get to the Super Bowl but I doubt it. But at the very least, they should make the playoffs and be among the last 4 AFC teams on the board.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits http://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .

 

Technorati Tags: nfl,nfl draft,Titans,Johnson,White,Collins,Young,Steelers,Colts,Patroits,AFC,Thornton,Washington,Gage,Stewart,Haynesworth,Bulluck,Hope,Harper,Flinnegan


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The Titans will be at destiny's door again in 09 but will they find the key to open it? by

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4 Responses to “The Titans will be at destiny's door again in 09 but will they find the key to open it?”


  1. NFL betting
    on Aug 5th, 2009
    @ 4:47 pm

    I just don’t see the Titans being as good as they were last year. They are still solid, but not the same. They lost Haynesworth and they still have Kerry Collins at QB, which means their ceiling is limited.

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  2. Bill Smith
    on Aug 11th, 2009
    @ 11:35 am

    Those are great points and I agree with you. The Titans will be close but not win the AFC.

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  3. Gas Fires Liverpool
    on Aug 13th, 2009
    @ 1:59 am

    They have to stay healthy as do their competitors to get to the big game. But the Titans also have to overcome their tendency of losing to the Steelers, Pats and Colts in big games. Each of those teams seem to have the mental edge against Tennessee.

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  4. Eye Doctor Canada
    on Aug 20th, 2009
    @ 11:42 pm

    This year they could well overcome their past losses and get to the Super Bowl but I doubt it. But at the very least, they should make the playoffs and be among the last 4 AFC teams on the board.

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