Tennessee Titans ’09 Quick Hits
Snappy one-liner analysis on every significant Titans player and offseason move.
2008: 13-3 (1st AFC South)
Head Coach: Jeff Fisher (16th year)
Roster Quick View (*new veteran, **rookie)
Offense (coordinator: Mike Heimerdinger)
QB: Kerry Collins
You can win with him but not because of him.
RB: Chris Johnson
Has one-a-million type talent when it comes to creating space. The type of playmaker to build a franchise around.
RB: LenDale White
Just good enough to be considered a “poor man’s Jerome Bettis.” Or better yet, consider him to be “what Ron Dayne should have been.”
FB: Ahmard Hall
Speed amplifies his stellar power as a lead-blocker. Must prove he can stay strong late in the year.
WR: Nate Washington*
Has $9 million in guarantees to live up to. Must get comfortable with precision timing routes if he’s to avoid becoming the next Yancey Thigpen/Carl Pickens/David Givens.
WR: Justin Gage
Averaged 19.1 yards per catch last season, but had only 34 catches. Is at his best on slow-developing comeback routes.
WR: Kenny Britt**
First-round pick is a tad too raw to start right away, but he’s expected to soon become the No. 1 target that has long eluded this offense.
TE: Bo Scaife
Unhappy about being franchise tagged, but tough to blame Tennessee for wanting to keep an athletic dual threat (receiving and blocking). Seems to improve a little each year.
TE: Alge Crumpler
Fine veteran, especially as a run-blocker. But can you believe this slow route-running, stiff-limbed producer of 254 yards last season was once a perennial Pro Bowler?
LT: Michael Roos
Simply doesn’t screw anything up. Ever. He’s not dominant, but he might be flawless.
LG: Eugene Amano
Posturing for a new contract. Has some power at the second level in the ground game, but needs to stabilize his pass protection.
C: Kevin Mawae
Venerable leader. Thirty-eight and coming off elbow surgery, but by now, we ought to all know better than to doubt him. Still arguably the AFC’s best center.
RG: Jake Scott
Shows better power than you’d guess, and also creates good angles in run-blocking.
RT: David Stewart
Not pretty, but effective. Key for him is executing mechanics.
6 OL: Leroy Harris
Titans like him for his versatility, but he was a noticeable weak spot filling in for an injured Mawae in the playoff loss to Baltimore.
Defense (coordinator: Chuck Cecil)
LDE: Jevon Kearse
Will create about one or two obnoxious commercial breaks each game just by laying on the field with a minor injury.
DT: Tony Brown
Eager to prove that his ’08 surge wasn’t a product of playing next to Albert Haynesworth. Must combat double teams better.
DT: Jovan Haye*
Well-moving run-stopper who can fill the front end of a rotation.
RDE: Kyle Vanden Bosch
Always proving doubters wrong. This year, the doubters are saying that great leverage and tenacity aren’t enough to overcome corrosion from nine hard-fought, injury-riddled seasons.
3 DT: Jason Jones
Really more of a DE, though his playmaking potential shines brightest inside. Must focus on maintaining increased weight and strength.
3 DE: Dave Ball
Versatility and effort are appreciated only by those tasked with blocking him.
LOLB: David Thornton
Occasionally has trouble winning at the point of attack. But more often than not, he’ll capitalize on opportunities.
MLB: Stephen Tulloch
Gradually improves with each bit of experience. Fundamentally sound; patience affords him good vision.
ROLB: Keith Bulluck
At 32, likely his last season in Tennessee. Awareness and instincts make up for any declines in speed.
4 LB: Ryan Fowler
Run-stopping grinder is a good presence in short-yardage situations.
CB: Cortland Finnegan
Plays with a chip on his shoulder so huge that it’s protruding upon his neck and back. This hurts him at times, but it’s also what’s made him one of the 5 best CB’s in football.
CB: Nick Harper
Fairly ho-hum measurables, but his expertise in this zone-oriented system makes him a fine No. 2.
NB: Demarcus Faggins*
Let’s just say Tennessee coaches will do all they can to get third-round rookie Ryan Mouton in this spot.
SS: Chris Hope
The Pro Bowl caliber veteran is the only player on this defense allowed to operate outside the traditional confines of his position.
FS: Michael Griffin
Lacks the first-class speed of an elite safety, but is to be commended for almost never giving up big plays.
6 DB: Vincent Fuller
Can operate anywhere in the secondary. Is at his best in short-area coverage.
K: Rob Bironas
Big foot and steel nerves under pressure enticed the Titans to give him a four-year, $12 million deal (the NFL’s highest annual salary for a kicker).
K: Craig Hentrich
Thirty-eight but is ignoring back pain and delaying retirement for at least one more year.
RS: Mark Jones*
Doesn’t quite have Chris Carr’s consistency, but offers more home run potential.
Offseason Quick Glance
RD PK (OVR) NAME POS SCHOOL
KEY PLAYERS ACQUIRED
CB DeMarcus Faggins: UFA Texans; 2 yrs, terms unknown.
DT Jovan Haye: UFA Buccaneers; $16M/4 yrs, guarantees unknown.
WR/KR Mark Jones: UFA Panthers; terms unknown.
QB Patrick Ramsey: UFA Broncos; 1 yr, terms unknown.
WR Nate Washington: UFA Steelers; terms unknown.
KEY PLAYERS LOST
CB/KR Chris Carr: UFA Ravens; $5M/2 yrs, guarantees unknown.
DT Albert Haynesworth: UFA Redskins; $100M/7 yrs, $41M guaranteed.
CB Renaldo Hill (FA)
WR Brandon Jones: UFA 49ers; $16.6M/5 yrs, $5.4M guaranteed.
CB Eric King: UFA Lions; $4.25M/2 yrs, SB unknown.
OT Daniel Loper: UFA Lions; 1 yr, terms unknown.
QB Chris Simms: UFA Broncos; $6M/2 yrs, $1.5M SB.
Negotiations with DT Albert Haynesworth broke down after it became apparent that the Titans, smartly, wouldn’t break the bank for the All-Pro. Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz is gone, but with defensive line coach Jim Washburn still in place, Tennessee should survive up front. To maintain the depth that has defined this interior front four, the Titans signed former Buc Jovan Haye and drafted DT Sen’Derrick Marks in the second round.
The secondary depth took a beating in free agency. Renaldo Hill, Chris Carr and Eric King all left, forcing the Titans to restock by signing ex-Texan DeMarcus Faggins, who offers starting experience but is equipped for little more than dime duties. Tennessee is hoping that third-round rookie Ryan Mouton can emerge as the nickel. In the very least, Mouton can assume Carr’s return duties if return specialist Mark Jones doesn’t pan out.
Offensively, QB Kerry Collins was re-signed, and the team brought in journeyman backup Patrick Ramsey. This is interesting because it could push Vince Young all the way down to No. 3 on the depth chart. More important, though, are the changes Tennessee made at wide receiver. They can live without Brandon Jones, who left for the 49ers. Former Steeler Nate Washington is a No. 2 wideout whom they’ll force as a No. 1 (the Titans tend to do that). First-round pick Kenny Britt is expected to one day become the No. 1. He’s a fairly well-polished big-play threat, but he’ll come off the bench to begin the season.
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