Monday, January 12, 2009

Where to Now? One Man's Opinion...

As the Titans season ends with a thud, it's time to look at this group, by unit, and see what is next. This is just one man's opinion, but here goes:

Coaching Staff: There is a knee jerk reaction to say, “There goes Jeff Fisher again….not able to win the Big One”, but I have a real problem with this assessment. He did not fumble twice inside the 15 yard line. He didn’t hurt his ankle. He didn’t fall down or blow a coverage. What he did do was take a team that no one thought was a serious division contender and break Indy’s death grip on the AFC South. The staff is outstanding and will probably lose DC Jim Schwartz soon. LB Coach Dave McGinnis is a possible replacement there.Mike Heimerdinger got a ton out of an offense with one explosive player and a 36 year old re-tread QB….Mike Munchak (O-Line), Ernest Byner (Backs), Jim Washburn (D-line), Chuck Cecil (DBs) and Alan Lowery (Specs) are all very good. This staff is tremendous.
Grade: A

Quarterback: Huge question mark. Can Kerry Collins, 2676, 58.3%, 12/7, 80.2 rating, really do anything else? This may as good as it gets for him, and he can only slip from here. It’s time to see what VY can do with Dinger, CJ and a new weapon or two outside. It’s really the only option. Let Kerry test the market, and make him reasonable offer and a chance to compete for the job…if he goes…so be it…Don’t be afraid to see if there are any potential sleepers late in the draft.
Grade: B-

Running Back: Chris Johnson, 1228, 4.9, 9TD, 43 rec. 1 TD, is an elite player, but potentially injury prone. He had problems early in his career in college and we got a glimpse of that in the playoff game. It was also glaring how pedestrian LenDale White, 773, 3.9, 15 TD, 5 rec., is. Really just ordinary. Ahmard Hall, 13 rec. 2TD, is solid at FB. Will Rafael Little do anything? Does Chris Henry make the team? Ganthner?
Grade: B+ (but very top heavy)

Wide Receivers: Number 1 priority in the off season. Justin McCareins, 30/412, 0 TD, really brought nothing to the show. He’s a UFA and I’d let him go. Brandon Jones 41/449, 1 TD, is also a UFA. I wouldn’t hurt myself trying to keep him, but I’d make an offer. Justin Gage, 34/651 19.1, 6 TD, finished strong and has a role, but still not a number 1 guy. Lavelle Hawkins, 7/68, needs a look if his head is right and is ahead of Chris Davis and Paul Williams. TJ Houshmandzadeh (CIN) is the top UFA out there…Bryant Johnson (SF) or Antonio Bryant (TB) are worth a look. Draft may have 4 first round WR. Crabtree, Maclin, Harvin, Hicks all ready to jump right in…may need to move up from 28 to get any of them…
Grade: C-

Tight End: Bo Scaife, 58/561 and 1 TD, should be a priority signing. Along with Owen Daniels (HOU) and LJ Smith (PHI), one of the top 3 UFA TE’s. Alge Crumpler did not produce any where near expected with 24 rec. and 1 TD.
Grade: B

O-Line: One of the real strengths of the team, all the way across the front. Young, under contract and the one grizzled vet, Kevin Mawae, is an All-Pro. Roos and Stewart also All-Pro, Jake Scott is very solid and Eugene Amano is a comer. And Leroy Harris is tremendous depth and ready to step in for Mawae when the time comes, or compete with Amano. Group only allowed
12 sacks.
Grade: A+

D-Line: Got to get the Big Fella resigned…heart and soul of this very good group. Haynesworth had 75 tackles and led the team with 8.5 sacks. KVB had 4.5 sacks, but was dinged most of the year and at 5.6 mil, he needs to be in there. Young ends Jacob Ford, 7 sacks, and Dave Ball, 4.5 sacks are ready, and William Hayes shows promise. Tony Brown led the way with tackles for loss w/ 10 and QB hurries w/ 24 and is a horse. Jason Jones is a star in the making w/ 5 sacks and that huge game against Pittsburgh. Jevon Kearse’s return was mixed, with 3.5 sacks and some good pressure at times, but really, from an overall production standpoint, he was outplayed by Ball and Ford. And Kearse made 2.6 mil while Ball and Ford made $900,000 combined.
Grade: A

Linebackers: Another area of strength, with very good players under contract. Keith Bullock led the team with 120 tackles and has earned his 7 mil cap number. David Thornton (93) continues his steady play and is a team leader, and quality guy and in the 4 mil. range. Steven Tulloch (98) is a tackling machine and a huge value at under 600k. Ryan Fowler (27) is excellent depth, and a very good special teamer, but may be vulnerable at 2.5 mil. Only 14 solos, low % for a backer. The young guys all made nice special team contributions. All of these guys are under contract as well…
Grade: B+

Safetys: Chris Hope had an amazing year making the Pro-Bowl and being 3rd on the team with 93 tackles and adding 4 interceptions. He has earned his 4 mil. and is valuable to the room as well. Michael Griffin led the team with 7 ints. and was a first alternate for the Pro Bowl. Continues to improve and should be a mainstay for years. Had a few beats and missed tackles, but those will disappear with experience. Donnie Nicky is a solid special teamer and Vincent Fuller, though listed with this group, is the nickel. Fuller also excels on special teams and had 43 tackles, 35 solos.
Grade: A

Corners: Courtland Finnegan is a bonafide star and led the team with 20 PD and chipped in 5 int., while making 79 tackles. Nick Harper had 80 tackles and 17 PD and is very solid, but was picked on at times. Eric King seemed to be emerging until getting injured, and it remains to be seen how far he can go. Chris Carr was fine when called upon, but it more valuable as a returner. Depth may be an issue here, but everyone is under contract except for Rey Hill did not contribute this season.
Grade: B

Special Teams: Rob Bironas and Craig Hentrich are both UFA. Bironas should be more of a priority as Hentich is in the late stages of a great career. Bironas missed 4 FG this year, all 40-49 and had a 51 yarder. The miss in the playoffs was tough, but he has that kick more times than not. Hentrich averaged 42.8 with a 36.5 net. He had 27 kick inside the 20, w/ 13 touchbacks…a few more than you like. The return game was excellent with Chris Carr. Carr averaged 28.1 on KO Ret. Including a 55 yarder and 10.1 on Punt returns w/ a 44 long. No TD, but it seemed close at any time. Fearless returner.
Grade: B+

When looking at these grades, keep in mind, this team had the best record in the NFL. They are not a dumpster fire. The offense has questions, the defense is one of the best in the league with one HUGE free agent.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

So am I crazy or did anyone else see Flacco step out of the endzone for a safety in the 4th QTR. Im sure he stepped out, but there was no replays or talk about it. Tell me Im not alone here.. Another way to stick it to the TITANS besides the clock running out.

Anonymous said...

I thought so too. I could have sworn that he stepped out.

spark MAN said...

He wasn't even close to stepping out. The replay showed he was several inches from the back of the end zone and an official was right there.

Anonymous said...

I'd love to see that replay. I watched the game but there was no replay on tv or even a discussion about it.

Anonymous said...

I heard the show today and you are right Titans fans are acting like kerry collins is putting up kurt warner numbers and he is not. 12 touchdowns in 13 wins isnt even a touchdown per win.

Flacco stepped out of bounds i saw it on hdtv. Espn shows a computer generated replay angle. Cbs didnt have enough cameras to do that matrix shot from every angle of the field. Espn and Cbs wanted the titans gone as soon as possible they wouldnt even flex the team(titans) with the best record into a night game all season.

Anonymous said...

12 touchdowns in 16 games is only considered a great year by titans fans. I dont care if you hate VY you have to admit he can pick create magic with his legs and a healthy chris johnson. DRAFT OR SIGN A REAL NUMBER ONE WIDE RECEIVER IF YOU WANT TO WIN THE SUPER BOWL.

spark MAN said...

The replay I saw was a CBS replay during post-game and Flacco was CLEARLY in bounds on that play. It was nothing computer generated, it was a camera from the endzone looking at Flacco's back.

I don't know that VY is a QB the Titans can win championships with, but in his defense, he hasn't been given much to work with. No time with CJ and no game changing WR's for VY. The Titans have a 1st round pick invested in him and he deserves a chance to succeed with playmakers around him.

Kevin said...

Collins stat line does not reflect the way that he played QB. Yes he had only had 12 TD's, but you have to remember a couple things. The Titans didn't throw inside the five yard line really at all. Lendale White just fatted his way into the endzone. He also didn't have a big time receiver who could catch that fade route in the corner that really is necessary to throw the ball that close to the endzone. He only had 100 more yards than Vince, but Kerry also sat out in a few blowouts once the game was decided. Vince would have stayed in those games and racked up easy passing yards (2007 Titans vs.Saints). Also remember that Kerry never really kept bad teams in games with interceptions. Think about Vince's performances against the Falcons and Raiders in 2007 and then think about how the Titans did against that type of team in 2008. In the games that the Titans dominated, Kerry Collins could have had 300 yards and 3 TD's, but he didn't care about running up his yardage and stat total. He wants a ring as do the fans of Nashville. His arm looked great against the Ravens and with a good #1 receiver. You are looking at the Superbowl XLIV Champs.