Before the 2011 season began, most prognosticators thought the Titans would be lucky to repeat their 6-10 record from 2010.
Finishing with a winning record was impressive with a new coaching staff and quarterbacks who had a month to learn the system. The record for 2012 starts at 0-0 no matter what happened last year.
The offense was unbalanced.
The passing results were 8th in pass attempts, 12th in passing yards, 11th in touchdowns, and 12th in fewest interceptions thrown. That's one way of saying that this wasn't Jeff Fisher's offense. The running game was impotent, finishing 30th in attempts, 31st in yards, 26th in touchdowns and 29th in yards per attempt.
The shuffled defense was a bend but don't break unit, giving up the 26th most pass attempts but ranking 5th in net yards per attempt.
The run D was bottom ten in rush attempts given up, rushing yards, and yards per attempt. They were also 31st in sacks.
It's close to a sure thing that the Titans will take a defensive player with the 20th overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft.
The QB spot isn't going to be a problem, but it will be the most interesting training camp battle.
Matt Hasselbeck started all 16 games last year, the first time he's done so since the 2007 season.
He did not finish them all however, and Jake Locker looked good in relief. General Manager Ruston Webster and Head Coach Mike Munchak agree that there's going to be an open competition for the starting job. The interior offensive line is the real problem area on the offense.
Interior Offensive Line
Going into the 2010 season, the Tennessee Titans front office signed Eugene Amano to a five-year extension.
He had been the team's starting right guard for the past two years, so when he lined up at center in training camp, it was a big surprise. He's been the team's starting center for the past two years, and the run game has deteriorated in that time period.
Right guard Jake Scott is a free agent and is unlikely to be re-signed.
Left guard Leroy Harris signed a two-year extension last summer and will start 2012 to the left of Amano.
Seeing as Amano has played center and guard in his eight-year career, the team could sign either a center or a guard in free agency or the draft.
It's unlikely that the new starter is already on the roster.
Defensive coordinator Jerry Gray enters his first full offseason with an opportunity to make major changes.
The team could have as many as three new starters in the defensive backfield, and the defensive line and linebackers could use some reinforcements.
While players make a full recovery from major knee injuries as a routine, it's still a tough transition that first year back. The Titans expected a two-way defensive end when they selected Derrick Morgan with the 16th pick of the 2010 draft.
Morgan tore his ACL in the first month of the season.
Hopes were high that he would make a full recovery in time for 2011. He almost had as many sacks in four 2010 games (1.5) than in 15 2011 games (2.5), including 10 starts.
Even without a recovery for Morgan, the front office believed in a breakout from young defensive ends William Hayes and Jacob Ford. Ford didn't make the opening-day roster, and Hayes was invisible.
Former second-round pick Jason Jones played tackle and end, and never found his stride. Veteran Dave Ball will be back on the team, and should be a rotational player.
It hasn't been the Titan Way to pick up expensive free agents, but Mario Williams is a possibility. If not, a lower-tier guy along with an early draft pick is probable.
The good news is Akeem Ayers came in at strongside linebacker and started all 16 games.
Colin McCarthy replaced an injured Barrett Ruud and was a leader from the start, including winning NFL Defensive Player of the Week for his efforts against the Bills.
Both will start in 2012. The third starter is veteran Will Witherspoon. Witherspoon's in the final year of a three-year deal.
He'll be elsewhere in 2013, so the team needs to consider drafting his replacement this year unless they're going to upgrade via free agency.
If it weren't for free agency, this position would be a strength. Last year's one-day holdout and negotiations so far lead to one conclusion.
Cortland Finnegan is leaving.
The 2011 team lacked veteran leadership, and another player who wore the captain's C might be gone. Finnegan played outside on early downs and covered the slot on obvious passing downs. Jason McCourty and Anterraun Verner have started on the outside. The team's going to need a young player like Chris Hawkins or Tommie Campbell to take over as the nickel cornerback.
Finnegan's looking for Jonathan Joseph money, which would be about five years and $50 million. The Titans have offered four years and $28 million. The franchise tag is no longer an option.
Other than Finnegan, the other free agent who will be tough to replace is Michael Griffin. Griffin was an inconsistent presence in the back end last season. He seemed unwilling to make big tackles and was not an asset in coverage.
Griffin has been locked down for at least one more year. That gives the team one starter from 2011 remaining on the roster.
Chris Hope's contract is up, and the six-year Titan will not return. He missed five games in his first five years with the team, and started only two games last season.
Jordan Babineaux started 14 games and is likely to re-sign with the team.
Contract talks are underway.