The Definitive Blueprint to the Tennessee Titans' Perfect Offseason
There is no denying that this season was a very disappointing one for a Tennessee Titans team that came up just one game short of making the playoffs the previous season.
Now the Titans enter the offseason with a ton of work to do, and big improvements have to be made if head coach Mike Munchak wants to make it past three seasons.
Munchak already got the gift of getting another chance to fix this team.
The good news is that there is hope for this young team that has plenty of talent.
Here is the complete blueprint of what the Titans must do this offseason to return to the playoffs next season and forget all about the ugly mess we saw in 2012.
Complete Overhaul of the Offense
The offense showed some promise this season during certain times, but Jake Locker clearly regressed from his first season when he appeared in limited action.
This offense has to be tailored more towards Locker's strengths, and that means moving him outside the pocket more.
It also means establishing a more consistent running game that doesn't just involve keeping your fingers crossed that Chris Johnson breaks off the "big one," like he luckily did against the horrid New York Jets.
The Titans need to get a ground-and-pound style of running back to help complement Johnson to make this offense more effective on first-down rushes.
That will do wonders for Locker's game, and the Titans need to explore that option this offseason.
Address Offensive Line and Defensive Line in Draft
This will be one of the most important drafts the Titans will have had in a long time this April.
First of all, the Titans cannot afford to waste a draft pick on a position that they are better off at. That means ignoring positions like tight end, linebacker and cornerback at least until the later rounds.
The Titans ironically hurt themselves by winning two of their last three games, so it may be a reach to get Bjoern Werner or Damontre Moore at defensive end.
Offensive line may be the way to go in the first round for the Titans, but defensive line should be addressed in the second round.
Safety is another position the Titans can't afford to ignore over the first three rounds of the draft.
If the Titans make smart draft picks to cover these three areas, then that will go a long way into turning this team back in the right direction.
A big reason why this organization stayed relevant for so long under Jeff Fisher was due to his strong drafts that he had every year. That's certainly what the Titans have to have this time around as well.
Keep Jared Cook, Darius Reynaud
It was very clear that Jared Cook was not happy with his role in the offense this season, and now the Titans have to figure out a way to convince him to stay.
The Titans just can't afford to lose one of their best offensive weapons during this delicate offseason that will make or break the Titans in 2013.
Cook is one of those rare tight ends that puts so much added pressure to opposing defenses. For Jake Locker's sake, Cook has to return next season.
To lesser extent, Darius Reynaud also needs to be retained. He showed that he's just as valuable in special teams as Marc Mariani was.
Reyaud can also contribute more in the running game with his athleticism under a better offensive system than what was presented this season.
Mariani is, unfortunately, the odd man out here, but Reynaud earned a spot on the team. If the Titans aren't smart enough to retain him, then someone else will benefit from his services.
Revitalize the Fanbase
Something has to be done to get this fanbase excited again, because they haven't had much to cheer about over the last two seasons.
Hovering in mediocrity is not a way to keep the visiting teams from taking over your stadium with their fans.
That has to change for this organization to take the next step.
It starts with getting the fans talking again, and that can be done through free agency. Bring in a guy that can not only get fans excited, but also obviously help the team win games.
Osi Umenyiora would certainly be the answer to that problem, but are the Titans willing to pay up? History shows they probably won't be willing to pay what Umenyiora is probably worth.
Fans are going to continue to sell their tickets off if this organization doesn't start showing that it wants to bring a Super Bowl to the great city of Nashville.
Until that happens, the Titans can kiss their home-field advantage goodbye. Other big-time organizations will continue to make LP Field their home away from home.
Linebackers Have to Develop
These Titans linebackers have honestly emerged as one of the bright spots on this team despite being so inexperienced.
Zach Brown had a flawless rookie year, while Akeem Ayers continues to grow into this team's best tackler.
Colin McCarthy had somewhat of a setback due to injuries, but he's still got a bright future in the NFL.
As long as these linebackers continue to develop this offseason, then this will be the strength of the Titans next season.
That means obviously getting a highly-regarded defensive coordinator to replace Jerry Gray. It's still unclear if Gray's job will somehow survive into next season.
You always want to build around the foundation of your team, and at this point, it's this young group of linebackers. Build around them and make this defense a respected one again.