Tennessee Titans Progress Report: Where Things Stand Heading into Week 15

Nate DunlevyGuest ColumnistDecember 12, 2012

Too much time on the sidelines has hurt McCarthy.
Too much time on the sidelines has hurt McCarthy.Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The Tennessee Titans are 4-9 on the 2012 season and stand in third place in the AFC South.

In Week 15, they play the New York Jets at LP Field on Monday Night Football.

The Titans rank 29th on offense, 27th on defense and 29th overall in DVOA.


What Went Wrong in 2012

Obviously, more than one thing went sideways this season for the Titans.

This week, we'll look at the defense.

The 2011 Titans held opponents under 20 points a game. The 2012 Titans have given up nearly 30 points a game.

From one season to the next, the defense got 10 points worse. What's especially bad is that this happened without the Titans facing a murder's row of passing offenses.

There weren't a lot of major defections from the Titans' defense other than Cortland Finnegan, whose presence was definitely missed.

The Titans' secondary never quite gelled, in part because Michael Griffin and Jordan Babineaux struggled mightily all season.

Griffin's play may be the single biggest culprit defensively. He's been brutal in coverage and against the run. The five-year extension he got before the season now appears to be one of the worst contracts handed out in recent franchise memory.

When you add in a brutal season from Colin McCarthy who was hampered with injuries all year, it adds up to a disastrous season on defense.


Injury Update

McCarthy is questionable for this week with a concussion as is Damian Williams.

Jared Cook was placed on injured reserve, ending his season.


2013 Draft Status

The Titans are tied for the fourth-worst record in football with five other teams.

They will likely be drafting in the top 10 next year, depending on how the last three weeks shake out.

Their primary concern will likely be help at pass-rusher, the same primary concern they should have had in 2012.


Stat that Must Improve in 2013

The Titans are -10 in turnover margin, good for 26th in the NFL.

They've forced a mediocre 16 turnovers (23rd) and given the ball away 26 times (26th).

Offensively, the burden for improvement falls on Jake Locker, who fumbled four times and threw nine interceptions.

Locker is always going to lean toward high-risk, high-reward plays. Turnovers will be a part of his profile. Still, the balance between good and bad has to tilt the other direction more often if the Titans are going to bounce back next season.


Coaching Watch

Mike Munchak told reporters he'll sit down with Bud Adams when the season ends. Jim Wyatt of the Tennessean relayed his words.

That is not my worry or my decision. We have to win football games. I get that. But I think for me it is about knowing we are headed in the right direction. I feel we are doing that. I feel we are not getting the wins, and that’s what I’ll be judged on when it is all said and done, and that will be for someone else to decide.

Munchak's tone seems to have changed in recent weeks as the pressure on him mounts. The dismissal of offensive coordinator Chris Palmer doesn't seem to have produced any immediate benefits.

After another embarrassing collapse in Indianapolis, it's getting more difficult to defend Munchak's tenure.

Still, the most likely outcome of the season is the dismissal of most of the coaching staff, with Munchak hanging around for at least one more season.