Tuesday
Feb032015

My Thoughts on 2015 Free Agency - Offensive Line

The 2014 Titans had, quite possibly, the most disappointing offensive line in the league. 

Tackle

Michael Roos

  • Has decided to call it a career. We will miss him, but I'm not surprised by the move. This will open up the left tackle spot for Taylor Lewan

Michael Oher

  • Was cut by the Titans in February, but will probably be picked up by another team; maybe not during training camp, but will be at the top of the list for teams with injuries. To be honest I was excited about having Oher on the Titans roster, but he appeared to "phone it in" for most of the season. He might have been dealing with nagging injuries or dealing with a new system, but it was time for him to go. I wish him well.

Taylor Lewan

 

  • Lewan showed the tenacity and mean streak you really want from your lineman. However, he also showed a lack of emotional control you also want. I think this can be attributed to his rookie emotions and being thrown into the mix early due to injuries on the Titans O-line. I am excited about how he his growth as a Titan. He will be a real anchor in 2015.

 

Potential FA Signs I Would Love (or at least tolerate):

 

  • Bryan Bulaga (Packers)  - He is a true anchor on the right side (which is exactly what we need). My only concern is that he has had hip injuries and a torn ACL. He missed the entire 2013 season due to injury. However, he has played at the highest level including the youngest player to start a Super Bowl. He can bring some veteran leadership to a line that is losing almost all of it.
  • Doug Free (Cowboys) - Again, he is another tackle that fits in on the right side. At 31, he is a little long in the tooth for a long-term commitment. He is a solid player that has improved his game and again would bring that elusive leadership to the team. He has also played in playoff games which is something the Titans haven't seen in so long that the team thinks you can only get there by riding unicorns.
  • Joe Barksdale (Rams) - He could be plugged in on the right side, and is younger than the other two on the list. Unfortunately, he has already spent time on the Raiders and Rams and that tells me that two teams have already tried him out and he is moving on. It would be nice for the Titans to steal a player from Jeff Fisher instead of the other way around.

Guard

Andy Levitre

 

  • Levitre had serious issues this past season, and he is owed $6.5 million in salary and $2.1 million in signing bonus for 2015. With this amount of money he should be a solid player on the line, but struggled throughout the 2014 season. There is serious discussion that he will be cut. With a salary hit of roughly $8.6 million, I'm not so sure that would be a good idea. If we make him a backup, that might push him to raise his game to where it was before 2014.

 

Chance Warmack

 

  • Warmack also struggled in 2014. He was touted to be as "strong as an ox", but was consistently pushed around when the Titans attempted to run the ball. He seemed to be confused  or playing beyond his position often. However, by the end of the season, he settled down, but by then the team was hard to watch because they were falling apart at the seams. This is the season I expect Warmack to show us his true talent that we have wanted to see. 

 

Potential FA Signs I Would Love (or at least tolerate):

 

  • Mike Iupati (49ers) - He is a mauler. That is EXACTLY what you want from your guard position. However, he didn't have his best season in 2014, and my fear is that he may be Levitre 2.0. For a free agent, he is the right age. Young enough to have a nice career ahead of him, but old enough to be a seasoned veteran. He was on the 2012 All-Pro team (first string).
  • Orlando Franklin (Broncos) - He brings the ability to play both guard and tackle. He had one of his best seasons in 2014 while playing guard. He is also another player that has played at the highest level (Super Bowl XLVIII). At 6' 7" 320 lbs, Franklin is a mountain of a man. I think he would also bring good versatility for the Titans line.
  • Clint Boling (Bengals) - A young, true starting guard that will be in high demand. He might be re-signed by the Bengals, but is high on the list of teams like the Jets. I would love to steal away a player that the Jets coveted.

Center

Brian Schwenke

 

  • Schwenke is coming off a season-ending knee injury. He was a solid starter for the Titans up to that point. His salary is very friendly to the cap and I am excited to see him back on the field. Chris Spencer filled in for him and did "ok" job, but the Titans 2014 offensive line played so poorly that it is really hard to give a good grade to anyone here. 

 

Overall Thoughts

Like I said, this unit was the most disappointing of the team in 2014. Almost anything would be an improvement here. There are certain starters that are in their last chance with the team, Others that will get a full season at the position for the first time, and yet others that will find themselves looking for jobs elsewhere. My opinion is that the Titans need more than draft help here. Yes, I see the Titans drafting a guard or tackle in the 3rd to 5th rounds, but free agency is a must for at least one of these positions.

 

 

 

 

Wednesday
Jan212015

My Thoughts on 2015 Free Agency - Wide Receivers

The wide receiving corp for the Tennessee Titans is probably the position that is the most confusing. We have veteran talent in Nate Washington. We have a young playmaker in Kendall Wright. We have young, raw untapped talent in Justin Hunter. However, so many questions that were at the start of the 2014 season were never answered. Does Nate Washington have anything left in the tank? Why didn't the Titans coaching staff utilize Kendall Wright more? Is Justin Hunter a bust or can the coaching staff mold him into the game changer he has been touted to be?

All these questions must be answered before free agency makes any sense. So here goes...

I believe Nate Washington can still be an asset on the field and especially in the locker room. He had 647 yds on 40 catches with 2 TDs. He might choose to retire, but if the Titans want him back I believe he will choose to give it one more year. His 2014 cap number was $4.8 million. His 2014 number will need to be considerably less than that to keep him on the roster, and that is another obvious stumbling block keep him around. With all that said, barring retirement, I believe Washington will be on the Titans 2015 roster.

Kendall Wright is hard to figure. It appears that the coaching staff doesn't have him in the game plan. He is an exciting player that brings energy to the field every time he touches the ball. He had 715 yds on 57 catches with 4 TDs. Personally I want him to be a larger part of this team. However, there is a small part of me that thinks he could be either trade bait or a casualty of being cut. He has fairly friendly cap number ($2.6 million), and I think this could be attractive to teams like the Raiders or even the Seahawks. That being said, I don't believe the Wright will be part of the 2015 roster for the Titans.

The Titans have quite a bit invested in Justin Hunter, but his story is wearing thin with the coaches and fanbase. He had 498 yards on 28 catches with 3 TDs, pedestrian numbers at best. He must work on his route running this offseason and his ability to catch passes in a crowd. He has one more year (at best) to prove he can deliver on all these skills we keep hearing about. He will be on the team, but he better show something early or we will have another Kenny Britt on our hands.

As far the rest of the roster, they are interchangable with dozens of other players on practice squads. So, that leads me to the potential free agents that could help bring this team return to the early 2000's dominance...

Demaryius Thomas would be a fantastic addition to the team, but if Peyton Manning has anything to say, he will be back with the Broncos. So, Titans fans don't get your hopes up.

Dez Bryant is another receiver, maybe THE receiver, that any team should covet, but the Cowboys will not let that happen. He is another player that Titans fans shouldn't waste time fantasizing about.

A player that might just fit the mold for the Titans is Torrey Smith from the Ravens. His 2014 cap numbers were very favorable ($1.1 million), but I'm sure he is looking for that big payday. He has speed and enough experience to come in ready to play. He had a down year in 2014 with 767 yards on 49 catches, but with 11 TDs. He knows how to score! He has breakaway speed for the deep ball and could be a nice compliment to Hunter.

Two other potential free agents of interest is Randall Cobb (from Green Bay) and Jermaine Kearse (from Seattle). These players have tasted success at the highest levels, but both have fairly small contracts (as far as NFL standards go) and might be looking for a bigger payday and a bigger role. Either (or both) would bring hope and playmaking to the team.

That being said, this NFL draft is crammed full of receiver talent. Amari Cooper (Alabama), Kevin White (West Virginia), Devante Parker (Louisville), Sammie Coates (Auburn), and Devin Smith (Ohio State) are just a few that are projected in the early rounds. With the Titans needing to fill so many holes in this roster, maybe this might be a position where both free agency and the draft can give us much needed weapons.

Bottom line, this was one of the most under-performing positions on the Titans roster for 2014, and better be a focus of this staff for 2015. If I were a betting man, I would bet on the Titans making multiple moves here.

 

 

 

 

Tuesday
Jan132015

My Thoughts on 2015 Free Agency - Running Backs

Let me start by saying that this position, more than any other, has more questions about the direction. The running game never got started this season, and most of this can be linked to both the offensive line and the fact that this team was playing from behind so much they couldn't afford to run the ball.

What We've Got

When Shonn Greene came over for the 2013 season, there was some hope that the Titans days of "Thunder and Lightening" was back (with Chris Johnson at the time), but Greene has never materialized as either a great supplement to CJ2K (rushing for on 295 yards in 2013) or as the season opening starter (392 yards in 2014). He was never a short yardage threat, and has been a general disappointment.

Bishop Sankey was supposed to be a promising 2nd round pick, but from the little we were able to see from him, he seemed to be over matched by the faster, more powerful linebackers of the NFL. He was only able to amass 569 yards on 152 attempts with a measly 2 touchdowns. He might still have a place on this team, but with his current body of work I can only speculate that his role with be supplemental at best.

Dexter McCluster came in this season with fans (and coaches) salivating as how to use his many talents. However, for some unknown reason, his role was limited. He only got 131 yards rushing and 197 yards receiving. That is even less than pedestrian numbers. The Titans coaching staff were not able to get a game plan that included McCluster in the way the fans or, dare say, Dexter himself would have liked. He will be another option in the 2015 season. Let's just hope the coaches can find something for him to do.

Leon Washington is a free agent, and I don't believe will be a part of this team for 2015. His underwhelming performance in special teams, and being just another warm body in a mediocre backfield has sealed his fate.

Antonio Andrews is someone that the fans and media were excited to see if he had anything to show. He went to a local university (Western Kentucky University, a little more than an hour north of Nashville), but we never saw what he could do.

Potential Free Agent Acquisitions

Demarco Murray and Justin Forsett are free agents, but will either be re-signed by their team or have the franchise tag applied. Forsett is especially critical for the Ravens with the untimely departure of Ray Rice.

Mark Ingram is an intriguing possibility. There was high hopes when he left college, but he has never attained a 1,000 yard season. Unfortunately, his career has been marred with injuries, and unless he is medically sound he should not be a option.

Stevan Ridley is another injury victim that might be an option. Although he has posted a 1,000 yard season in 2012, his injuries could preclude the Titans from taking a chance on him.

Conclusion

There is not much out there that will excite the fan base. So, this will be yet another season where the Titans will search through the depths of the draft for a hopeful.

Todd Gurley (Georgia) and Melvin Gordon (Wisconsin) are primary targets for the 1st round. Since the Titans have more pressing needs, they will most likely be gone when the Titans are ready to pick a RB. I predict the Titans won't be ready to draft a RB until the 3rd round at the earliest. Also, the role of the RB has been greatly reduced with the new NFL rules that grant extra protection to the QB and WR. 

We can only hope that Bishop Sankey has more to offer than his first season.

Monday
Jan052015

My Thoughts on 2015 Free Agency - Quarterbacks

QB

Overview

With the impending departure of Jake Locker, the uncertain future of Charlie Whitehurst, and the not fully tested potential of Zach Mettenberger, there is a real need to ensure this position (above all) has the right personnel for both the short term and long term. I truly believe that if Jake Locker were to remain healthy and have a consistent offense to work within, he could be an asset to any team. The Titans have been patient, and can no longer take a chance he can possibly make it through a season.

Charlie Whitehurst is another story. He is efficient, but doesn't take enough chances. He has a passable arm, but doesn't seem to trust his receivers to make the play. When it comes down to it, I'm not sure the Titans should retain him as the backup on the depth chart, and I don't believe he will stay around for anything less. 

I don't believe Jordan Palmer is even remotely on the radar for the Titans, so I won't even comment on his potential here.

Here are some potential fills for the roster at QB:

 

  1. Matt Hasselbeck - He's currently 39 years old, and just might choose this opportunity to retire in the offseason. Then again, he just might get a new 1-year deal with the Colts. I believe this would take him to the end of his career either way. I would love to re-sign him as the backup, but I don't believe he will be available or willing to deal with the Titans due to his history with the team.
  2. Brian Hoyer - He showed something this season and beat out "Johnny Football" as the 2014 season began. As a starter he went 7-6, 242 comp 438 att 3,326 yds 12 TDs 13 INTs. Not great numbers, but with his 6 season in the NFL he might be a capable backup to Mettenberger.
  3. Many other QBs are out there, but I just don't see them as a good fit or they will not be available when free agency opens. Michael Vick, Mark Sanchez, and Kyle Orton are retreads that just don't fit into the team, and Colt McCoy won't be available.

 

I firmly believe that Zach Mettenberger is the future of this team, but believe that we are better served with a different back-up. In addition, with the number 2 pick in the draft, I think it needs to be used to trade for more picks. So, most likely both Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston will be gone after a trade out of the #2 spot. Picking up someone like Brett Hundley (UCLA) or Dak Prescott (Mississippi State) in the later rounds might be the better option.

Finally, the QB market is just full of the "has been" and "never was". Even with the fact that Wisenhunt has been portrayed as the QB guru, virtually all of these QBs should be left to another team. Now is the time to build this team through youth. 

 

Monday
Sep082014

Next Day Thoughts: Titans 26 Chiefs 10

With great anticipation and nervousness I prepared myself for the opening of the 2014 season on Sunday. So many questions would have answers becoming clearer.



  • Would Jake Locker step up into the player we think he can be?

  • Would this defense look like the one that couldn't stop an opening drive in the preseason, or would they finally show us Ray Horton's plan realized?

  • Who would step up in the running game?

  • Would Ryan Succop show us he is better than both Bonani and Coons?

  • and so on...


After the game on Sunday we can only hope this wasn't as illusion.

Jake Locker was more than efficient (22/33 266 yds 2 TD; 6 car 14 yds). He did a nice job of finding the open receiver on 3rd down. He was also smart in the times he chose to take off and run. Locker still needs to work on his accuracy a little. In the first half he was throwing the ball too high and in the second half he tended to throw it too low. That being said, in both cases he threw it where his receivers could get to the ball.

"Runningback by Committee" seem to really work for the Titans. Shonn Greene led the way with 15 carries for 71 yards. Whether it was Dexter McCluster, Bishop Sankey, or Greene, the result tended to be the same... positive yards, in chunks.

On offense, what impressed me most is how we were able to sustain drives at key points in the game. Although, our 3rd down percentage was only 43% (7/16), we got it when we needed it. I will say that we need to convert some of those field goals into touchdowns. If this game would have been closer, that could have been a serious issue.

On defense, I can't believe that I'm saying this, but it didn't feel like the team was out of position. We got fantastic play from our defensive backs, especially Jason McCourty (2 INTs) and outstanding play from bubble players like Derrick Morgan. Shutting down Jamal Charles and making the Chiefs regret giving that big contract to Alex Smith were just 2 of the good things that made me happy on the day. However, the biggest thing to me was getting the Chiefs off the field on 3rd down. The Chiefs were only 8% (1/12).

The special teams came up huge too (with one exception and even that was saved). Ryan Succop came up huge with kicks of 36, 31, 46, and 47. I bet he was laughing the entire time. Brett Kern came up huge in the right moments, pinning the Chiefs deep on the 2 yard line at one time. Quite possibly the biggest play of the game came when Leon Washington fumbled kickoff and Coty Sensabaugh was able to jump on it to keep the ball in our hands.

Next up, can the Titans make us believers by beating the Cowboys.