Titans preseason opponents announced
|Nearly every season, the Titans can count on a couple of things to happen during preseason.
1. Win a lot of games. Tennessee focuses on quality depth more than a lot of teams, and at positions with depth will often play their starters in the preseason. As a result the Titans win often.
2. Lose to the Saints. New Orleans schedules a game with Tennessee nearly every preseason, and nearly every preseason the Saints run for over 150 yards while demonstrating even better depth than the Titans. This often results in a loss for the Titans, but even when they do win it was through the air after sustaining major ground'n'pound damage from the Saints.
As the league gets ready to announce the preseason schedule, the Titans have agreed to play against four of the RZL's most storied franchises.
These teams are a combined 152 games over .500, a win % of .565, and includes 6 Lombardis, including the only back to back winners the league has ever seen.
To be fair, the teams above as well as the Titans will probably bench their most important players, and the preseason results will mean nothing. But some things may be instructional, like whether the Titans can finally stop the Saints run game in the preseason. But here are some of the things the Titans will be trying to accomplish.
1. Establish the run.
Tennessee has transitioned into the strongest run-blocking team in their history. They have two first-round type TEs and a star blocking FB drafted in the 2nd round. Major Hester has two unproven youngsters backing him up, and he has an extensive injury history.
2. Evaluate young pass catchers.
The Titans have some young WRs that can function as #3 and fill-in starters, and likely will just want to keep one of them for development and one to fill out the bottom of the roster. They'll be evaluating McNutt, Franklin, and Roberts to see which they like the most as a starter. Also at TE they'll have to figure out which one starts, which one backs up, and how the timeshare will work.
The Titans have the secondary pretty much figured out. But they'll be constructing a front 7 out of a lot of good pieces and no dominant ones. Manufacturing a pass rush while still stopping the pass may be a work in progress all year, but these four games will be the start of that project.
(by N_StMarie on 12/02/2014)
Replies - 0 :: Views - 13
Remember the Titans
|Immortal giants of incredible strength and knowledge. Locked out of Mount Olympus. This Titans team completed their fall from on high in the last age and have plotted in Tararus during this long dark period of inactivity.
Were the Titans destroyed, or merely imprisoned? Will they reemerge after so much time has passed since their reign? Are they getting bigger? Stronger? Wiser?
Last year was a year where Tennessee seemed incapable of beating good teams. The only exception was a four-point victory over the Falcons, but it was a season where the Jaguars regained their series lead on the way to a division title after sweeping the head-to-head matchups.
Mostly, the team seemed incapable of doing much on defense. Opposing passers threw for 32 TDs and 11 INTs, a 95 QB rating. Also, they were only sacked 26 times. Tennessee did go through a transition, replacing their corners while hanging onto Curry and Henderson, but it appears neither old pass rushers or young corners were able to slow the opponents passing game. A team that is normally known for defense lost by making the opposing QB an MVP candidate on the season.
So how did this team win 8 games? It helps when your QBs throw for at least 900 yards and TDs to three different WRs. Gutowski reached just about 1000 yards and 11 TDs before a deadline deal made him a Bill for the last six games. Ogletree and Godfrey each had over 900 yards and tied with 7 TDs apiece. Tennessee sat Hester down after it was clear they were going to have a wasted season, so Bobby Reid played a few games, but combined the two had 31 TDs and 10 INTs.
Thomas Class had an improved second year, with 6 more catches (and 5 more drops) and an impressive 18 more pancakes than he had as a rookie.
Special teams were above-average as usual, with Prater nailing 39/40 FGs, Martin scoring 3 KR TDs and a punter just short of 20% inside the 20 yardline.
The games theselves started out pretty good. The Titans won two divisional games on their way to a 4-1 record, only losing to the Steelers and scoring 45 twice. Hester to Jack Gutowski was good for 8 touchdowns and over 590 yards. Major Hester had 15 TDs, 2 INTs, and over 70% completions and was a clear MVP candidate for a team that was allowing over 20 PPG despite the 4-1 start.
The next 5 games were the last of Gutowski's career, and he only had 1 TD as the Titans cooled off. Facing three top teams and two bottom feeders, Tennessee went 1-2 against the upper class and 1-1 against the "others" leaving them a 6-4 team that had beaten one single contender, and still yet to play either of their two games against the Jags.
It was at this point in the season the Titans traded their 34 year old star WR and they promptly lost the next 4 games, all against teams that won 9 or more games.
That left two games where they took Hester out, ran the ball and won, including a match against the Buccaneers. This week 17 match was unusual in a few ways.
1. The Titans held both team's 1st round picks, and with both teams at 7-8 with a high SOS there was almost no chance the outcome of the game would affect the draft slotting.
2. The last time Tennessee played the Buccs in the regular season was in 2019, and that game was also in week 17, and was the last time the Titans went 8-8.
So what needed to be fixed? I identified the problem areas more than a season ago, but the fixes either were slow in arriving or needed seasoning.
First, Gutowski and Ogletree were regressing and only Gutowski was a threat. After so many amazing seasons, he is headed toward the land of possession WR, and frankly I was surprised to even get a 1st for him last season. After sending him away, Tennessee was left with zero explosive players at WR.
The Titans already gathered the next generation of star CBs before last season, but they need some seasoning. Because they are on the roster, they didn't make the priority list.
The front 7 did. The Titans have been making do with spare parts for years now, but need an overhaul on the edges and even at MLB. Going into the offseason the Titans lacked star power with Clay Henderson slowing down and Aaron Curry a shadow of himself. They had OLB, MLB, and DE targeted in the offseason proceedings. Perhaps even all five positions. This will become apparent looking at the offseason moves.
SS Marcus Brown - Retired
CB Jackson Brown - FA
MLB Aaron Curry - Cut
ROLB Chris McCoy - Retired
ROLB Geoffry Nunez - Cut
ROLB Matt Cobb
LOLB Robert Goodwin - Cut
DE Datone Jones - Cut
DT Aubrey Fairly - Trade
LG Bruce Campbell - Trade
RT Dallas Hayles - Trade
TE Ben Vickary - Retired
WR Jerrod Godfrey - Retired
WR Mac Boyer - Retired
HB Eliseo Lemus - Retired
QB Bobby Reid - Retired
CB Marcus Howard - FA
FS John McCoy - FA
SS Joe Lefeged - FA
SS Deone Bucannon - Draft
ROLB Andre Lang - Draft
MLB Jevon Cox - Draft
OLB Mark Davis - FA
DE Peter Davis - FA
RT Quinn James - Trade
WR Marvin McNutt - Trade
WR Nate Roberts - Draft
WR Brooks Foster - FA
TE Matt Conner - Trade
QB Anthony Phillips - Draft
HB Carlos Hyde - Draft
HB Anthony Tate - Draft
Titans sent Bears 4th, Packers sent WR Marvin McNutt
Titans sent Bills 1st, Titans 2nd, Bills 2nd, Redskins sent WR Jackson Manning, RT Quinn James
Titans sent DT Aubrey Fairley, Vikings sent Vikings 3rd
Titans sent LG Bruce Campbell, Ravens sent TE Matt Connor, Ravens 1st
Titans sent RT Dallas Hayles, Bengals sent Steelers 3rd
The Titans lost a few more to retirement this year, but it was not nearly as detrimental as last season. in the FA market they mostly went after decent starters and good role players, while not really losing anyone of import.
After 8-8, did the Titans do enough to rejoin the AFC Elite? I guess it starts with how many parts of the team are great.
QB - 6'8", 30 years old, strongest and most accurate arm in the league. Hester's only issue is being a bit fragile, but with his strength and the Tennessee OL this hasn't been an issue yet.
OL - 3 players are 6'6" and 350+ lbs with 96 STR, while 3 have 90+ AWR and PBK. Overall this groups is not as fast as some Titans lines but this group is huge and strong while still being pretty athletic. Power running and pass blocking look to be equally good.
WR - Manning Jackson is 6'6", 230 lbs, with 96 SPD and 97 CTH. The only WR that's a deep threat.
FB - Kyle Andrews, 86 SPD, 74 STR, 90 AWR, 88 ACC, 70 RBK. Is there a run in the playbook he can't get out in front of?
TE - Thomas Class is 6'8" with OL strength and near-OL blocking, while having elite hands and molasses speed. Newcomer Conner is 6'6" with 85 SPD, 70 STR, and 54 RBK. Merely an average run-blocker, he still poses a threat as a blocker due to his athleticism, size, and strength. Together these two pose a mismatch to nearly every DE, linebacker, and safety in the league.
CB - Newcomer Matthew Howard can cover just about every speed WR in the league, and fills a huge hole in the Titan's pass coverage. With 97 SPD, 96 AGI, 97 ACC getting separation on him will be difficult for anyone. Wilhite is 6'4" with 92 SPD, Amerson is 6'2" with 95 SPD and two years of experience. So the Titans handle tall WRs just fine, but some of the deep threats in the league could really burn this group before Howard. Now this group seems to be a serious strength.
K - Prater has missed 2 FGs out of 81 in the past two years. The best kicker in the league, and the one you want in a 58 yard FG attempt.
Safety - Vaughn and Bucannon are 6'1", fast, and have good hands. Neither is elite, but both could be in a couple more years.
DT - This trio could all start, and has above-average AWR for a young group of DTs. None will ever be elite.
HB - Landy Thompson is good, but old. Hyde is young but as a rookie far from elite. Martin is a good KR, but this group hasn't been elite for many years and this year still is not.
P - Randolph Bevilacqua is an above-average punter, not elite.
DE - Clay Henderson is past his elite prime, Thrasher is a little weak, Wiley is old and starting to decline. This group might make some big plays, but won't hold up against the run.
LB - Seattle has about 5 linebackers that "could start," none that "must start." Height/SPD/STR-wise they are at least average or better, but factoring in AWR/TAK and AGI/ACC this group has no elite players and only a few average players. Last year Clay Henderson played a lot of LB, this year he may do it again.
The Jaguars are the standard in the division. With an elite QB, two deep threat big WRs, and two shutdown big corners, oh yeah and a crazy strong and athletic front 7, there are pretty much no weaknesses. To beat the Jaguars you simply have to play at their level.
Titans pass offense will benefit from Quinn James and Jackson Manning. With a great pass blocking OL, tall targets at TE, and Manning, the Titans can play keepaway even above the Jags CBs. Expect this to be a draw, which is amazing considering the Jags pass rush and pass defense.
Even with the Jags front 7, the supreme power the Titans bring on the OL along with the hammers at TE and FB lead me to say Tennessee will have a slight advantage running the ball.
The Titans match up ok on the outside, but may have to resort to playing Howard as an undersized matchup against the deep ball. At safety, the two 6'1" young guys may make a big play or two but won't even approach shutting down the deep part of the field against the Jags. The pass rush doesn't even close to threaten the Jags. Jax has the advantage here.
Montee Ball is a nice player, but the Jags don't have the most efficient run offense. The Titans weakness at LB and on the edges of their DL outweigh any issues the Jags bring to the table. Advantage, the team from Florida.
Long story short, the changes by Tennessee help against the Jags WR advantage, while really helping them pass and run the ball against that defense, but has not swung the advantage back to them. Looks like another close set of games against the other best team of the AFC South, which is an improvement over last season.
Prediction: Titans go 11-5, get the 5th seed WC spot.
(by N_StMarie on 11/23/2014)
Replies - 4 :: Views - 82
Hester a Major success: Can the Jaguars be caught?
|Over the past two or three seasons the Titans have been winning while rebuilding. A QB swap that opened the "championship window an extra half-decade did reinvigorate the franchise after several years of signing older QBs. Otherwise, volume drafting, and liberal amounts of FA "mortar" have been applied to an aging Titans wall that quite simply has not been repaired at the rate it is disintegrating.
And yet the Titans have won 8, 9, 10, and 12 games in the past 4 years, in an over 33-aged effort that reminds me of the Gaspar Bills of many seasons.
So as the star QB comes off of two fully healthy seasons, and his very best season as a pro, he turns 29 heading into this season. While he's still a Flacco-esque QB down to the propensity for injuries, his elite skills and age means the window for the Titans is open for the next 6-8 years. But is this team built to win around him?
17 players are 32 or older on this team. 11 are 34 or older, or just about ready to retire. This after a Titans-record 11 retirements this offseason.
Meanwhile, the cracks are showing and depth is not quite what it used to be in Tennessee.
We start with a look at how this team just did to see how they'll do.
On offense the team was pretty well balanced, mostly due to the still-elite offensive line in Tennessee. RB Landy Thompson had his best year, 8 yards shy of 1500 yards with 13 TDs, his 5th year with at least 9 TDs. While he'll probably never reach the top rushers in yards, he's in good position to reach the top 10 in rushing TDs in a career as early as this year with another career year. Thompson is getting near the end of his career, and while Doug Martin is an ok #2 in this league, he's no stud.
Speaking of the offensive line, Marcus McNeill finished his incredible career with 95 pancakes and 1 sack allowed at RG, only his 2nd time playing guard in his 17 year career. The rest of the line includes Hayles and Campbell, the super-athletes with the younger, stronger Cato and Molk coming into their own. All together this line has kept the ever-injured Hester upright through two seasons full of passing. Oh, and they're pretty good at run blocking too.
The WR corps is where this train might be getting ready to stall. Jack Gutowski and Kevin Ogletree totaled 145 receptions, for over 2400 yards and 20 TDs. Each is regressing, althouth Gutowski is more of a Randy Moss-type at 34 still outrunning guys down the sideline. Ogletree is a decent starter still, but no longer a deep threat.
On the defense, the secondary is young but pretty much fully built outside of perhaps the SS position. The CB's lack the maturity and sheer athleticism of the Jaguars crew but bring a lot of talent and productivity to the position, and FS Chase Vaughn has been pretty strong in deep coverage.
At DL the Titans are actually pretty well staffed, with Javier Wiley and Clay Henderson getting old but Jamaal Thrasher ready to step in as a speed rusher. Production-wise the DL looks a little weak but they played pretty well in front of this defense.
Linebacker is a problem area, with Thrasher and Henderson filling in at OLB. At this point even Curry is on his last legs. Going into the offseason this was a trouble-spot.
Special teams were very good, with Prater missing one 55 yard FG, going 40/41. Doug Martin had good return skills with 2 TDs, and Bevilacqua had another above-average punting year.
I can't start this section without highlighting the retirements this time. Tennessee did sign two names right before the SB to retire them as Titans, but a large portion of the team did decide to hang it up. This is the list of retirees.
RG Marcus McNeill
QB Andre Woodson
ROLB Freddy Nickols
LT Doug Free
FB Ahmad Bradshaw
HB Frank Summers
QB Bret Meyer
WR Marcus Monk
WR James Hardy
LOLB Maurice Poole
HB Anthony Alridge
Alridge and Bradshaw were signed to retire as Titans, while McNeill, Nickols, Monk, & Hardy spent significant time on the field while Woodson, Meyer, Summers, & Free were key backups at important positions the past year or two.
In free agency, the Titans mostly targeted depth and weaknesses. They added three linebackers in free agency, McCoy, Butler, and Hall. While the three of them have been only depth linebackers on their teams they actually upgrade some of the current starting positions on the Titans. It's unclear who will play where but the Titans were close to having a LB corps that would let anyone run on them.
The big-news move was the big contract given to Jerrod Godfrey. At 35, Godfrey may spend more time on the trainers table than on the field but at 6'4" with some deep speed left Godfrey brings something to this very thin and old WR corps. Hester at this point probably has the best deep threat WRs of his career, but in two years may only be throwing to Micah Franklin, this year's 4th round draft pick.
Marcus Brown did return to start at SS this year, a move the Titans quickly made with little competition. The Titans also signed LG Travis Bright to fill in at RG. Bright is still near the top of his game and should be a nice patch for that hole while the Titans continue to strive to stay relevant.
In the draft, the Titans added to their OL strength with 2.2 pick Darwin Smith. Literally. The 6'6" 364 lb monster OT has 98 strength, but 62 speed as well. He's pretty raw in blocking skills, but this team isn't too afraid to develop an offensive lineman.
DT Leland Blair was an interesting prospect, at 6'4" 319 lbs, 66 SPD, 90 STR, 65 AGI & 69 ACC, athleticism and strength. Nothing extroardinary, but no weaknesses. He coupled that with enough awareness to start already, making him a sneaky choice to become a long term starter.
Their other noteworthy draft pick FS Campbell, who currently lacks a starting spot is a 6'3" safety with pretty good speed but also development concerns. All in all, the march of time is not being swiftly met by youngsters with a lot of talent from this draft. The skew didn't turn any of the 3 OLBs into a real starter, but Cobb and Davis are pretty usable for specific roles and added a bit to the LB depth.
During training camp coach Hasselbeck tried to make sure reps and contact were on the low end of acceptable. He's gained a ton of experience coaching vets in the past 7 years with Tennessee, and one way to keep brittle vets healthy is to rest them and not use them up early in the season. With injury concerns and age a concern at QB and WR especially, the pressure is on to show the money hasn't been spent on a paper tiger.
Development of youngsters has looked a million times better for this team's camp at other points in the 17 years GM St. Marie has been here. The cupboard is somewhat bare, as 25 and under potential stars are as follows with three being 25:
LT Morgan Cato
CB Daniel Larsson (probably not fast enough)
FS Chase Vaughn
LT Darwin Smith
CB David Amundson
And that was being generous, including a physically weak safety and a physically slow CB. So these youngsters were definitely receiving a lot of focus to try and bring them up to speed with the veterans they are trying to join.
The secondary members are being coached up by 34 year old Marcus Brown. Even at his age, Brown is keeping himself up to speed well enough to be a starter. He's using his track background at McNeese State to train up Larsson, Vaughn, and Amundson in form and sprint workouts. Key in the routine is a Saturday workout with 30 sprints up a quarter mile hill, working on their "speed endurance."
Smith and Cato were treated to former Titan Walter Jones walking them through his famous offseason workout. He was legendary for pushing an Escalade with his brother-in-law. But more elements of his workout were relevant to OL and not just SUV-moving.
Key, if surprising elements include his ab workout, sprints, and what looks almost like vanity weight training two days a week. But for two giant athletic guys like this (only Quinn James is a scarier athlete at this height/weight) such a workout might work better to preserve their athleticism than the average brute force workout most OL get. A key Walter Jones unlocked that allowed him to be the most unbeatable LT the game has ever seen.
Going forward, the Titans are an interesting, uncompleted mix of crazy talent and immense age disparity. On the 2010 Titans SB team, Walter Jones and Keith Bulluck finished up their last seasons, while Clay Henderson, Stacy Green, and TJ Boone were just rookies.
Now Clay Henderson and Jack Gutowski are starring at the twightlight of their career while the first elements of the next dynasty may just be getting their start. In the middle is Tennessee's best mixture of depth and glue to try and get started early.
Offensively the Titans could be explosive. Hester to Godfrey and Gutowski could be special this year, while Hayles, Bright, Andrews & Campell are still able to open giant holes for relatively ordinary RBs like Martin and Thompson. Or Hester and Gutowksi could be lost for the year by week 6, and Godfrey may struggle to beat the best opposing CB every week.
Defensively, the Titans may struggle to stop the run, and there may be difficulties pass rushing. The front 7 has a good chance of being no worse than average, but few chances to be special without more moves this year.
In the secondary, the Titans are starting to put the newest shut-down group together, but are probably a year or two away from being that elite. All in all, this defense looks beatable by a great team at rushing or passing.
All together, this team may win the same way it did last year. With a balanced offense keeping the defense from having to play from behind, and the ability to hit the deep ball to make up for mistakes. But with high-leverage injuries likely having a big impact on this team, GM St. Marie should keep his first round pick on hand.
Looking at the rest of the division, it's belonged to the Jaguars and Titans for a while. 3 out of the past 5 years BOTH teams made the playoffs together.
Team vs Team, it's tough to see how the Titans overmatch the Jaguars. Jacksonville has the better duo at CB and WR. A more durable elite QB, a better front 7. An OL that keeps up pretty well with that of Tennessee, an equally good or better RB. The Titans have been able to win some competitive games vs this team, but may just have to wait for the Jags to make a mistake this season. Expect the Titans to win 9-11 games and not challenge for the division as the Jags should win 14 this year.
There is no one weakness in Tennessee that hasn't been adaquately masked, so with lucky health you could see the Titans win 12-13 games again, but last year's lucky weak schedule will not happen again this season. Expect 10 wins and a wild card from this team.
Overachieving feels good, and has felt good the past two seasons. But looking at this team now, it feels like the rebuild should be much further along. Most of the resources spent have been on the secondary, with one DE and two OL picked up in the past couple years that are foundational players. but normally this GM can flesh out the rest of the roster much better than we're seeing in Tennessee. Is this a sign of no longer being elite, or just how a rebuild while winning feels? I don't know.
(by N_StMarie on 05/03/2014)
Replies - 1 :: Views - 40
Super Bowl losers without feeling like failures?
|2021 was by all accounts a "rebuilding" or "transitional" year for the Tennessee Titans for reasons ranging from age problems to positional weaknesses to a midseason change at the most important position.
The defense was and still is a mess. The defensive line is in serious flux, with an awkward mixture of young, old, and backups manning the 4-man line. The Titans are using old and young pass rushers to play linebacker, with only aging MLB Aaron Curry starring at the second level. Meanwhile they developed SS Thomas Robinson to become a LB this year by playing him at SS last year with 85 SPD.
Speaking of the secondary, Tennessee started a rookie 3rd rounder at FS alongside the rookie 3rd rounder Robinson, future linebacker. At corner, 31 year old Derek Cox still had the speed (96) to cover deep while Sean Smith's speed (91) was already in decline, but made him the second fastest corner on the team. In this league of 99 SPD WRs and elite QB's littering the sidewalks, it's a defense that should not have succeeded at stopping the run or pass, let alone limit teams to 20.5 PPG (5th) while placing 11th in sacks and 1st in takeaways, although League Pulse still adds playoff numbers to those lists.
So the defense overperformed, but the offense was good right?
The answer is yes, but not elite. Tennessee only reached the top 10 list in points, which was assisted by their 28 (XP assumed by LP) defensive points and one of the league's two best kickers. Tennessee has perhaps the league's best improvement on Randy Moss, lack of interest over the middle and all. The only other great area of the offense is on the offensive line, were the remains of one of the league's top 3 OL's all-time mingle with some pretty good up and comers.
But at Quarterback, the Titans made the lateral move of Tyler Thigpen for Major Hester QB for QB in what might be the rejuvination of the franchise after a parade of old QB's since the Boltus experiment. Thigpen was 33, a year or two away from becoming a balanced QB and becoming the best he'll ever be. Hester was 27, with a vicious injury history and no wheels. Tennessee got a younger QB, so will have an elite QB for an extra six years, but injury problems could still make the Bears the winners if Thigpen as a balanced QB is as elite as I expect.
There was a trade down in awareness and accuracy, but Hester was a huge improvement in results-based stats, including the one most controlled by a QB. He averaged 270.5 YPG, about 53% completions with 13 TDs, 6 INTs, and only 10 sacks taken in 7 games. Thigpen averaged 233.56 YPG 10 TDs, and 8 INTs in 9 games, with 33 sacks taken.
The YPA is actually slightly higher for Thigpen than Hester, so the yards per game is pretty meaningless as Hester averaged 34 attempts to Thigpens just under 29, but Hester had less interceptions more TDs and a WAY better sack rate. The passing production wasn't statistically significant given the sample size, but the sack rate is. Furthermore, Hester's sack rate behind this OL strengthens the rational for moving to such an injury-prone player. Tennessee is notable in RZL history for keeping Brian Brohm (The Chad Pennington of the RZL) healthy for 12 games in 2016 and the full season on 2017, including three playoff games. This after Brian Brohm reached an 8 injury rating and caused the league to institute an injury floor of 20, which is where Brohm still was when Tennessee got him.
Tennessee has already reported on Offseason Trades and Offseason Retention/Free Agency. Here in the week leading up to the first preseason game a few more moves have been made, but we'll focus more on roster development, including a look at whether the Titans have fixed the holes from last year's SB team. (pro tip: they haven't)
At QB the Titans got a lot deeper behind Hester. They drafted Jason Jackson in the 6th round as a nice, interesting scrambling QB with great ball security and a good live arm. But after the draft they were able to pick up Andre Woodson, a near-franchise QB in his own right to be the primary backup ahead of Bret Meyer. Woodson is 37, so he may only be a one year injury insurance for Hester, but at $4.47 million it's VERY cheap insurance. Woodson himself is injury-prone, so Meyer (37 years old) and Bobby Reid (34 years old) the magical gypsy backup will probably both stay with the team this year. This QB room is pretty old, as there are 38 years of combined experience just in these three backups.
The skill players on offense haven't gotten much better. Gutowski is still the most dangerous deep threat, and some decent players play at FB, TE, and WR but the best HB is a FB, while the best TE might be more of an OT with hands. It should be really interesting to see whether this offense grows with yet another year of no feature back.
He was described, but 1st round pick Thomas Class is this year's offensive rookie to watch. A 6'8 285 lb OT-lite, he has 85 STR, 68 PBK and 68 RBK as a rookie, but also has the wheels of an OT with 65 SPD, 67 AGI, and 73 ACC. Besides his blocking skills though, he comes stock with 70 AWR and 84 CTH, with 75 CAR and 70 BTK, and even has 39 KR. Just kidding about the last part (drools about Class returning a squib kick) but he becomes easily one of the weirdest players coming out in a while. Not a deep threat, but can safeties keep him from coming down with a ball even if they have him surrounded? Will a 285 lb ball carrier with 85 STR and 70 BTK cause more injuries than Brandon Jacobs? Is he a way of overcompensating for having an injury-prone statue as a QB?
The real reason why this deep threat and bleh office with an injury prone QB works is the OL. The best RT ever to play the game signed up for probably his last season, while the Titans guards are a couple of insanely athletic OTs waiting for their own chance to play RT. The LT Cato is perhaps McNeill's heir apparent, at 6'8" 356 lbs with 98 STR and twinkle-toes. Outside of a more ordinary (but still athletic) 4th round C, the four make a killer run-blocking and pass blocking set of linemen. Like the NFL 49ers of this year, a set of really good skill players might set records behind this line, but on this team it merely makes a bunch of average players look good.
On the defensive side, the intro identified the aging corners, rookie safeties, lack of even average linebackers and lack of studs in their prime on the DL. So pretty much the whole team.
Well, the rookie FS Chase Vaughn ended up being a great blend of pure speed, height, and skills. He progressed a lot during last year, and at this point looks like a long time starter and perhaps a longtime star. At SS the Titans were able to get a one year rental in 6'3" Shad Ayala for 3.31. A FS for the Bears, Ayala is a huge upgrade at the position while Tennessee continues to look for a long-time solution.
At corner, the Titans traded 1sts from last year and this year to bring in the 6'4" Wilhite (92 SPD) and 6'1" Mcclain (95 SPD) to play the Sean Smith and Derek Cox roles. Mcclain will regress next year but Wilhite looks like a long term developmental starter for the Titans along with the defensive rookie to watch David Amerson. Amerson and Wilhite are both height/speed prospects without a lot of awareness or skill at this point, and while Tennessee are technically ahead of last year in future development they take yet another step back in on-field skill, with further backwards steps ahead with Wilhite's imminent demise.
Further intrigue for this position is the presense of Daniel Larsson, the very good nickleback from the past two seasons that has been groomed to be a starter. Tennessee appears to be 1 too many CB's deep, and they have a decision to make on who to groom and whether all of the youngsters can be groomed.
At linebacker, Aaron Curry is probably on his last season as a starter. He's coming off of his finest season, only 12 tackles short of a career high, 2 TFL short, with a scintillating 7 INTs and 15 deflections, both career highs. Other than Curry, the Titans will probably need to start LE Thrasher or LE Henderson at a LB spot. On the DL one of them will play LE, while the other spots are manned by good or very good big DL. Overall the front 7 lacks greatness at linebacker but functions well as a unit.
This year Head Coach Matt Hasselbeck was short on time so he went to Stack.com and downloaded the football sprint workouts in PDF form, which he circulated by giving each player a Windows Surface tablet.
The group of players working on these sprint workouts during training camp are the players you might imagine; Javis Wilhite, Daniel Larsson, and David Amerson. The young CB's of the Titans are going to have to group up as fast as possible, and with national media attention they are being pushed to their limits.
The 8-week workout has been more intense as these three compete to be the main two next to Isaac Mcclain, knowing that the one left out might get shipped out from the House of St. Marie.
For the most part, the workouts consist of sprints, 4 days a week outside of normal football practices, including two-a-days. The workouts generally stay consistent, with the fourth workout of each week being a good hill workout, while each week adds a little bit of intensity to some of the individual workouts.
The results have shown up for the youngsters, and while Amerson and Wilhite are the fastest, Larsson is not far behind and possesses a better mental game. Each of the three is faster and more explosive on the field, only tightening what is a gut-wrenching race to see the field.
(by N_StMarie on 08/29/2013)
Replies - 1 :: Views - 21
Player Retention & Free Agency, Titans
|Going into the offseason Tennessee was one of the older teams in the league. Despite their appearance in the SB, this was a roster that needed a lot of work.
The Titans began by giving FB Kyle Andrews a 5 year, $18.21M contract prior to the start of free agency. One of the best run blocking and receiving FB's in the game, the former 2nd round pick's new deal might be his very last contract in the RZL.
Franchise Tag, RFA's, & Holdout
The Titans did not give anyone the franchise tag, but did tag three restricted free agents
LE Ronald Thomas - 850k
LE Titan McGreer - 850k
C David Molk - 1.76M
The Titans plan on giving Molk a long term contract during the preseason, as well as working something out with Jack Gutowski, who is holding out. Gutowski was given a pretty team-friendly deal in 2017 that includes a no-trade clause, and was scheduled to earn $5.1M this year. Tennessee expects to give him the money he's asking for in time for some work in the preseason. If the negotiations happen, Gutowski might miss some of the preseason.
Predraft Free Agency
Tennessee had 12 unrestricted free agents besides Andrews and the 3 RFAs. They declined to offer contracts to:
LT Ricardo Hubbard
DT Avery Roush
HB Frankie Thompson
OLB Scott French
CB Sean Smith
WR Columbus Bolling
MLB Darrell Leonard
QB Josh Freeman
HB Rashad Jennings
The Titans offered contracts to and won:
RT Marcus McNeill
TE Ben Vickery
And CB Derek Cox was offered a contract by the Titans, but went to the Texans for a 3 year, $45M contract.
Post-draft Free Agency
In Round One, the Titans offered contracts to 12 players. Five of them joined the team.
QB Andre Woodson
QB Bobby Reid
MLB Milo Hatfield
OLB Edgar Tucker
OLB Geoffry Nunez
In Round Two, Tennessee had fewer holes, so offered contracts to 7 players. Of them, four have agreed to join the team, pending league approval of the submitted contracts. They are:
HB Dwain Nair
HB Frank Summers
DT Aubrey Farley
CB Miles Mangino
(by N_StMarie on 03/06/2013)
Replies - 0 :: Views - 21
At A Glance
| Clay Henderson
||Out for season
||at Texans #17
||at Steelers #25
||vs Patriots #23
||vs Texans #17
||at Jaguars #9
||at Bills #21
||vs Packers #32
||at Bears #20
||at Colts #31
||vs Vikings #3
||at Lions #18
||vs Jaguars #9
||at Jets #12
||vs Dolphins #26
||vs Chiefs #6
||vs Colts #31