This year, it’s going after an entire team.
Look out, 2007 Tennessee Titans—it’s going to be a long season.
In many ways, actually, it already has been.
The Titans were in playoff contention until the final week of 2006, thanks in large part to several big upsets keyed by the legs of Vince Young. As the offseason started, though, so did the trouble.
Multiple gunshots, a handful of arrests, and several thousand one-dollar bills later, CB/KR Pacman Jones was suspended for all of 2007 by Commissioner Roger Goodell.
The loss hurts in more ways than one.
Jones was a bright spot on a defense with few big names. What’s more, every one of his interceptions was a touchdown waiting to happen. It was the same story with his punt returns.
Jones finished 2006 with four touchdowns. So did Tennessee’s leading receiver.
The Titans lost another playmaker in the offseason when RB Travis Henry bolted to the Broncos. Henry rushed for 1,211 yards in 2006, and was a dependable option in the backfield.
Personnel losses weren’t the only downers over the winter. As big names were going out, next to nothing was coming in. The Titans need fresh talent to make good on their potential...so they went out and signed Justin Gage.
He and his 900 career receiving yards won't do it.
Of course, the Madden curse generally starts with the cover boy, and Young may be in trouble too.
Vince was a revelation in his rookie year, scoring seven touchdowns on the ground—including the game-winner in OT against Houston—and leading the team to an 8-5 record as a starter.
The national media fell in love, the Tennessee faithful thanked heaven, Texans fans wondered “what if”...
And defensive coordinators started scheming to stop him.
Young can't run his way to victory every week. Instead, he needs to work through his progressions, throw fewer interceptions, and improve his 66.7 QB rating.
Unfortunately, he won’t be getting much help.
Young's development as a passer will be stunted by a pedestrian receiving corps. The team did sign Eric Moulds, but his fellow receivers—Gage, David Givens, and Brandon Jones—don't scare anyone...except maybe Vince Young on third-and-long.
The running game is no more promising. LenDale White is supposed to start—but then again he was supposed to come to camp in good shape. If White can’t do the job, Chris Brown or Chris Henry will get a shot.
Brown is an injury-prone vet; Henry is an inexperienced rookie. Neither is terribly good.
Facing an unproven running game and lackluster wideouts, opposing defenses will dare Young to throw and feast on him should he run. The Madden cover boy may not take a step back talent-wise in 2007, but his numbers should certainly suffer.
And if Young falters, so will the Titans.
Jeff Fisher is a great coach, and his influence alone should contribute to a few wins. To their credit the Titans have built through the draft and developed young players—but given their current roster, a few wins might be all Tennessee gets.
Looks like the Madden curse wins again.
Projected finish: 7-9, 3rd AFC South
Keep your eyes on: LB Keith Bulluck—Consistently one of the best LBs in the game.
Take your eyes off: TE Bo Scaife—Nepotism reigns supreme for UT offensive players.