Tennessee Titans: Stat Predictions for Key Offensive Players
The Tennessee Titans' offense is going to look completely different next season. They will be transferring to a pass-first offense with a lot of two-tight-end sets, making running the ball less of a concern.
Of course, even so, Chris Johnson is in much better shape than he was last season, so if he's running the ball effectively, you can bet he'll get plenty of snaps. There will be plenty of running plays, but that won't be what the offense tries to do most of the time.
So, what kind of numbers will key offensive players like Johnson, Kenny Britt, Jared Cook and Matt Hasselbeck put up? Here are my predictions.
Let's start with the rookies: Kendall Wright and Taylor Thompson.
Tennessee's first overall pick this year will see a good chunk of playing time, but don't expect him to be on the field every snap; Kendall Wright is not an every-down receiver.
He is a slot receiver who can also contribute in other situations when needed, and he stretch the field with his speed. Like I've said before, I think he'll have a lot of yards when he's on the field, but because of his height and his rookie status, I don't think he'll see a lot of touchdowns.
With Kenny Britt hopefully staying healthy, Jared Cook breaking out and Nate Washington coming off a career year, I don't expect Wright to be better than third in overall yards amongst receivers. If Britt suffers another injury, though, that might change.
Predicted 2012 Stats: 50 receptions, 600 receiving yards, four touchdowns.
Tennessee's other rookie who'll see some playing time is Taylor Thompson, the defensive end who's changing positions.
I don't think Thompson will show much more than flashes in his rookie year, but he will see some playing time, and some balls will go his way.
If he can block well, and apparently he can, he may see the field even more than most think, especially in the red zone, where his height would be a huge advantage.
Predicted 2012 Stats: 15 receptions, 120 yards, one touchdown.
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Let's go ahead and get the biggest concern out of the way. Will Chris Johnson run more effectively than he did last season? Absolutely.
Will he have another 2,000-yard season? Not a chance.
Since Johnson has been working out hard in the offseason, I think we'll see a player that looks more like the Chris Johnson of the second half of 2011 than the first.
Over the last half of 2011, Johnson averaged over 4.8 yards per carry (compared to barely three yards per carry over the first half). He also ran in three of his four touchdowns in the season's second half.
He'll also benefit from having a bad season in terms of his competition. Defensive coordinators (at least early on) are not going to stack the box against Johnson like they used to, which will help him immensely.
Predicted 2012 Stats: 1,300 rushing yards, 350 receiving yards, 10 total touchdowns.
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Jared Cook finally broke out at the end of last season. Starting with the game against Cincinnati in Week 9, Cook looked like a legitimate top-10 tight end at times. At one point in that game, he even drew triple coverage (even though he only had four receptions that whole game).
With Kenny Britt there to take pressure off of him, I expect Cook to top last year's yardage total if he doesn't miss any time. He may even notch his first 1,000-yard season.
However, he's been inconsistent, even in the latter half of last season. Against the Carolina Panthers, he only caught one pass, so I'm keeping my optimism on low for the time being.
Cook will have a great year next year to be sure, but I don't expect him to turn into Brandon Pettigrew just yet.
Predicted 2012 Stats: 60 receptions, 900 yards, five touchdowns.
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Nate Washington had the best season of his career last year, pulling in 74 receptions for over 1,000 yards and seven touchdowns. He'll come in to 2012 wanting to show that it was not fluke.
But with Kenny Britt the No. 1, Kendall Wright getting snaps and Chris Johnson getting carries, there will be limited opportunities for Washington.
He will probably keep the No. 2 spot in wide receiver rotations and will probably be on the field for every passing third-down play. Still, the other guys on the team are going to cut into his share of the offense.
Then again, like I said with Wright earlier, if Britt can't stay healthy, all of this will change.
Predicted 2012 Stats: 60 receptions, 750 yards, five touchdowns.
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This prediction is the biggest shot in the dark I'm taking on the list. Kenny Britt has been fantastic every time he's been on the field, looking every bit as good as Hakeem Nicks, the receiver drafted one spot before him in the 2009 NFL draft.
Unfortunately, his problem isn't production when he's on the field—it's his ability to be on the field.
Last season, Britt missed almost the entire season after suffering an injury in Week 3 against the Denver Broncos. He also missed six weeks in 2010, which came right after his breakout performance against the Eagles, where he had 225 yards and three touchdowns.
Britt has the potential to be a stud, and if he lives up to it, the Titans will suddenly have one of the best receiving corps in the league. Until he proves that he can stay healthy, though, he'll be nothing but potential.
Predicted 2012 Stats: 100 receptions, 1,200 yards, eight touchdowns.
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Another big question mark is Matt Hasselbeck. He had a great 2011 season overall, but he fell way off toward the end of the year.
I think he'll come into 2012 rested and back up to par. However, at his age, I have to wonder how he'll perform down the stretch. I can't help but think that he'll be the starter when the season begins, but not when it ends.
With the murderer's row of a schedule the Titans start with, it'll be tough for Hasselbeck to come away with more than one win in September. After that, it gets easier, but those first four games may take a toll on Hasselbeck's body and make him drop off earlier in the season than he did in 2011.
If he does, you can bet that the Titans will send in Locker.
Predicted 2012 Stats: 2,900 passing yards, 19 touchdowns, 11 interceptions.
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Well, if Hasselbeck is getting fewer snaps, then that means that Jake Locker will be getting more.
Whether it's because Hasselbeck's play falls off, or he's injured, I think Locker will be the starting quarterback for the Titans before the season ends.
Locker showed flashes of greatness when he played last season, but he also showed, in completing only 51.5 percent of his passes, that he still has a lot of growing left to do.
Of course, now that he's had an entire offseason to improve his throwing mechanics, I expect him to be better in that area in 2012. He'll also have the advantage of getting to watch Hasselbeck work again for at least part of a season.
Locker is never going to be the kind of quarterback that kills you with accuracy, but I do expect him to at least get close to the 60 percent mark next season when he does start, which will probably be around Week 10.
Predicted 2012 Stats: 1,400 passing yards, 350 rushing yards, 10 total touchdowns, five interceptions.