The 2008 Tennessee Titans were the best team in football throughout the regular season. However, the team was still unable to win a game in the post season since the 2003 loss to the New England Patriots.
Not much was expected of this team to begin the season, but the expectations rose as the team continued to win, due majorly to the running of rookie running back Chris Johnson.
Sadly, that would be their downfall in the post season, when the rookie sensation exited the game early and left the team without an offensive identity for the second half, and ultimately the Baltimore Ravens were able to avenge a regular season loss to the Titans and send them home early.
This leads to the question: Where do the Titans go from here? What can we expect going into 2009?
The New Guys
The Titans went out and secured Nate Washington, then drafted Kenny Britt from Rutgers to try to bolster a passing attack that was ranked 27th in the league averaging only 176 yards per game.
Along with the return of the smash-and-dash duo of Chris Johnson, and a reportedly slimmer LenDale White, the offense might be able to carry the team more so than last year.
The questions around this team center on the defense. With the loss of Albert Haynesworth, one has to question how the dynamics will change. The answer is simple: Jason Jones. His progression is going to be essential to the Titans success.
The signing of Javon Haye in the offseason, as well as the return of Kyle VandenBosch and Javon Kearse will also be essential for the defensive line.
However, in Haynesworth's absence against the Steelers last season, Jason Jones racked up three sacks against Big Ben, if he is able to carry that out throughout a season, we could be in store for another dominant season.
Also hurt in the offseason was the return game of the Titans. The first ranked return team, due majorly to Chris Carr, a dynamic return man picked up from the Raiders last season, will be looking for a new face.
The offseason signing of Mark Jones as well as the drafting of Cornerback Ryan Mountain will hope to address this hole, but we will not be able to judge this until the season begins.
Kerry Collins was arguably the best offseason signing by the Tennessee Titans. Although alot of the offseason drama centered around Kurt Warner and his contract situation with the Cardinals, this team is not a .500 squad without the veteran Kerry Collins.
Vince Young continues to be a distraction off the field, and he looks disinterested on the field. Many times last season, instead of holding the clip board and calling plays with coaches, the camera would show Vince, by himself, on the bench.
He has also come out this offseason saying that he will just "get paid", not the kind of thing I want to hear from my team leader.
If Vince could somehow capture the spark he had in his rookie and sophomore season, dramatically improving this team after, coincidentally, replacing an ineffective Kerry Collins in 2006 to lead the Titans to a surprising 8-8, then the ceiling for this team is endless.
Sadly, I don't see that happening, thus the Collins move was essential, especially with the departure of Chris Simms.
Lets also not forget that the defensive line will be getting Kyle VandenBosch back healthy, and the linebacking core will be bolstered by a healthy Keith Bulluck. Both missed multiple games last year due to injuries, and if they are able to stay healthy, the defense should be right where it was last year.
In the extremely difficult AFC South, one has to expect this Titans team to go to the playoffs once again. At worst a wild card, and at best the division title and a first round bye. I predict that the 2009 Titans will go 10-6 and clinch a wild card spot.