Tennessee Titans: 5 Bold Predictions for the 2012-2013 Season
Expectations for the Titans' 2011 campaign were low at this time last year.
After a 6-10 season, the team had fired long-time head coach Jeff Fisher and the team's star player was embroiled in a hold out.
On top of all that, the labor dispute made it nearly impossible for the new coaching staff to implement their system.
This year, things are looking up.
Chris Johnson Will Return to Elite Status in the NFL
Three main factors can be attributed to the struggles of Chris Johnson in 2011.
First, and most obvious, is the hold out.
Chris Johnson started the regular season out of football shape. It clearly plagued him throughout the year.
Over and over last season, fans saw Johnson go down after first contact. The back put on nearly 10 pounds of muscle over the summer—showing clear commitment to success.
The second factor was poor play from the offensive line.
Head coach Mike Munchak was open about his disappointment in the squad— particularly because that is his area of expertise.
“Munch” brought in veteran Steve Hutchinson to bolster the inside. Guard Leroy Harris and center Eugene Amano have a lot to prove this summer.
Lastly, I blame offensive coordinator Chris Palmer.
Although Palmer did a nice job of trying to utilize Chris Johnson in space, enough with the stretch zone already.
Johnson is a quick hitter and you're wasting his best asset in running a play that requires patience and road graters on the offensive line.
Sometimes you just have to run the dive for three yards and move on.
Palmer will learn Chris Johnson, and Chris Johnson will learn that, at some point, it’s better to gain one yard than lose seven.
The Titans Will Win the AFC South in 2012
After grinding to a 9-7 record in 2011, the team now has a full offseason under the new regime—not to mention the league's most explosive running back.
The team also addressed the offensive line, pass rush and one injury prone receiver in particular.
These were all issues that affected them last season.
In reality, with the additions of OG Steve Hutchinson, WR Kendall Wright, DE Kamerion Wimbley and DT Mike Martin, the Titans have moved up in class.
Houston took the division by only a single game last season, while the Titans lost at least three they should have won.
The Titans Defense Will Be a Force
Most people believe the Titans needed to improve their defensive backfield this offseason.
However, the team ranked fifth last year in average gain per pass play, and 14th in passing yards allowed.
The real struggles for the defense came in the front seven. The team ranked 31st in sack percentage and 24th in rushing yards allowed.
Without the ability to stop the run, as well as pressure a quarterback on a third down, even the best defensive backfield would struggle.
The addition of Mike Martin could change the way opposing teams look at this defense entirely.
With Martin and Jurrell Casey inside, as well as Wimbley on the edge, opposing offensive lines will struggle to get bodies on linebackers.
The Titans quick, young linebackers, like Colin McCarthy, will now be able to attack the backfield.
The Titans Offense Will Be One of the Most Electric in the NFL
With the addition of Kendall Wright and the return of Kenny Britt and CJ2K, the Tennessee Titans could light it up this year—regardless of who starts at quarterback.
Wright adds a second element of speed to the field when combined with Chris Johnson.
Could you imagine the Titans splitting Johnson out next to the rookie receiver?
Defenses in the AFC North are already having nightmares.
Nate Washington could be the third best receiver on the team in 2012—and he only had 74 catches for over 1,000 yards last season.
The key will be how healthy Kenny Britt is after returning from his knee injury. If he can be the player he was early last year, the Titans could be nearly unstoppable.
Kendall Wright Will Be the Titans Leading Receiver
The talking heads of ESPN were perplexed with the Titans pick of Wright at No. 20 in this year's draft.
However, after the first set of OTAs, it was clear that Wright was a special talent who would not just sit behind Nate Washington.
Chris Palmer will find a way to get as much offensive talent as he can on the field at once.
If he fails, he deserves to be fired.
That being said, Kenny Britt is coming off a serious knee injury. Although he is likely still the best pass catcher on the roster, he has struggled continuously to stay healthy.
Nate Washington had a good year, but not prolific first-round draft choice good.
Kendall Wright and Chris Johnson may be the most electrifying RB and WR combo in the league by the end of 2012.
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