The Titans are on the path to the playoffs in 2012. They bolstered their roster with some savvy veterans and have young talent on both sides of the ball that will push them past their 9-7 2011 record.
With the youngest defensive front in football and a second year QB pushing for playing time, who are the pieces that need to make an impact for the Titans' season to go well?
All teams have their fan favorites. The Tennessee Titans have Karl Klug. Known for his tenacity, quickness off the ball, and his ability to disrupt a play, defensive tackle Karl Klug had a strong showing his rookie year compiling seven sacks. That number is even more impressive when you consider he was part of a rotational defensive line.
Klug wasn't just a pass-rusher only though. The farther into the season the Titans got the more Klug looked like an every down DT. As far as I can tell has strengthened his base and doesn't get washed down nearly as much as he did on day one.
While he has played some NT on pass rushing downs (thought I have no idea why) he is a pure penetrating three-tech. He won't keep blockers from moving to the next level, but he will slip the block and knock the ball carrier in the mouth.
With Klug as a strong interior rusher other players down the line can have success like Jurrell Casey, Derrick Morgan, and (another key piece) Kamerion Wimbley.
With a 1000 yard receiving year in 2011, Nate Washington may be the most underrated player in the league. While that may be an exaggeration, he is still the most important offensive skill player on the Titans team.
Yes he is more important that Damian Williams, Kenny Britt, and Chris Johnson. Do you know why? Because he knows how to win and he sets an example with his actions not just his words. In a league full of 280 pound behemoths, I don't think there is anyone as tough as Nate Washington pound-for-pound.
Nate Washington played his heart out against the New Orleans Headhunters...sorry I mean Saints. Even though the Titans didn't win that day, it was clear that he was one of the toughest receivers in the league. He had to be dragged off the field after a pinball like hit and on a bad ankle.
His most important quality though is that he seems to be Jake Locker's favorite target. Check this out for much more info.
Do you want to know how to tell if someone knows what they are talking about? Ask them if Michael Roos is one of the top five LTs in the league right now. If they say yes they obviously understand the position. If they say no well then they either haven't seen his tape or you should just stop the conversation and walk away right then and there.
Roos is a nightmare for opposing blitzers and rarely (if ever) do I see him allow a sack, and trust me I focus on him. After years against the Steelers tandem, Colts strip sack duo, and the Texans former star Mario Williams I have no criticisms for this guy.
Whether we are talking about CJ's running game or protecting whichever QB's blindside the first names that need to come up are Michael Roos and David Stewart. Those two bookends play the positions as well as you could ask and while they both could make this list the left tackle gets all the glory and takes all the blame so it is only fitting that he gets his name called here.
The reason he is not higher on this list is because while his job is one of the most important, he has preformed at such a high level for his entire career that I'm almost not concerned at all. That is how you know you have a great LT.
Alterraun Verner is another vastly underrated Titans player. People need to realize that he didn't lose his job to Jason McCourty because he was a bad corner. He lost it because McCourty is VERY good.
Next year as of April 11, 2012 I would project McCourty and ATV to be our starting corners. If you think that is a bad thing, read how Pro Football Focus introduces him before their interview. Tell me that doesn't make you want to see him start from day one.
Because of an improved pass rush, and solid linebackers I expect ATV to have another break out year. He is smart, athletic, and is one of the few players on the Titans roster over the last five years that I would call a ball hawk and a playmaker.
If he and McCourty play half as well as I expect them to the Titans could have a top 10 defense next year. If only the Titans could fix that darn safety issue.
I'm going to make a bold, but educated prediction. Kamerion Wimbley will be the answer to the Titans sack woes. I'm not talking about putting Tennessee in the middle of the pack, I mean a top 10 sacking team.
Wimbley has 42.5 career sacks in his short six years on the team and that is mostly from being a situational rusher. He played out of position in Oakland due to what I expect was a ton of talent on the defensive line and not enough OLBs. As a 4-3 defensive end Titans fans will become familiar with Wimbley's favorite move, the shoulder dip.
The shoulder dip takes elite speed and body control. Wimbley attacks the edge of the OL and fakes like he is about to put his hands on the blocker. When the tackle or tight end reaches out, Wimbley dips his shoulder and makes the blocker fall flat on his face. The video above should be an example of how well he can play.
With him on point and if Klug preforms to the level I expect, it isn't a stretch that these two alone combine for 20 sacks. Add in new pass rushing coach Keith Millard helping Ayers, Morgan, and Casey figure out the best way to get to the passer and that will also be a big contribution.
All in all, some people think the Titans overpaid for Wimbley. However, the Titans got an underutilized pass rusher at the prime of his career for the next five years. How is that a bad thing??
So what do you think Titans fans? Let me hear from you and tell me who else you think will have to have a big year for us to do well. I hope you enjoyed it. Become a fan on my page to see all my other articles and Titans news. Thanks!