Last season, no one could have predicted two things for the Tennessee Titans.
First, no one could have known first round pick running back Chris Johnson would team up with former second round pick LenDale White to create one of the best duos in the league.
The other thing was that no one could have predicted that Kerry Collins and not Vince Young would be quarterback, and lead the team to an NFL best 13-3 record.
Unfortunately, no one could then predict that the best team in the NFL would lose in their first playoff game, a disappointing end to a phenomenal season.
Kerry Collins might have just revived his career with the Titans and the 13-3 record achieved last season. He proved he could manage the game when he had the lead, but he also showed that he could bring his team back in the end when down late. The Titans only hope he will be able to repeat such a year.
The running back duo of “Smash and Dash” took the league by storm last season. LenDale White (Smash) showed everyone that his power running style from USC did not vanish.
White had dropped some weight since the year before and it showed as he was able to run for some 15 touchdowns and even a 60+ yard touchdown run showing he has some kick in those legs. Reports out of Titans camp say that White is close to about 230-240 pounds which is almost 20 pounds lighter than his breakout year.
Chris Johnson (Dash) stunned everyone, including many defenders, as the third round pick used his 4.2 40 speed and extraordinary agility to rush for over 1,000 yards. He looks to get even more carries next year, so 1,200-1,400 yards is a good possibility.
Fullbacks are not usually mentioned and most teams no longer use one, but fullback Ahmard Hall was crucial to the success of “Smash and Dash” and is becoming one of the best at his position in the NFL.
The receiver core was not a strong point of the team last season, but this year it might be one of the Titans’ best. Receiver Justin Gage had problems with injuries last season, but he came on late, and should be the Titans’ main receiver for this upcoming season.
The Titans then signed Nate Washington and drafted Kenny Britt with their first round pick. Washington could end up as the No. 2 receiver as he has solid hands and can get deep. Britt is a 6’3 monster who shined at Rutgers last season. He will provide a big target for the Titans’ offense.
The Titans also have some good tight ends. Bo Scaife was one of the Titans’ best receivers with a little over 50 catches.
Even though Alge Crumpler is getting older and may be in the league for only one more year, he will be able to impart his knowledge on the Titans’ tight end of the future, Jared Cook. He’s 6’5, runs a 4.6 40 and maybe a little faster, and has a 42 inch vertical. The Titans have the most talented tight end group in the NFL.
The offensive line is very underrated, as most people only paid attention to the running backs and the quarterback last year, but they were the real reason why the run game was so good.
Kicker Rob Bironas proved he was an elite kicker last season as he set the record for most field goals made in a single game last season. Also, he has an 88% success rate over the past couple seasons and he is in his prime.
The Titans defense is not bad. It has a great secondary led by safety Chris Hope, a good linebacker core led by Keith Bullock, but the dominant defensive line is in question. They only lost one guy and are acquiring DE Kyle Vanden Bosch back from a torn groin.
Unfortunately, that one guy was T Albert Haynesworth who opened up all the holes for the linebackers by occupying two, sometimes three, guys at a time. The line had never been so dominant as it was with Haynesworth who not only stuffed the run, but also had eight sacks last season.
It will be up to Vanden Bosch and T Tony Brown to lead that line back to its dominant ways.
Every time Vince Young comes up, it has been bad. He lost the starting job because he couldn’t get it done, then, after his “injury,” he expected to just come back as a starter, and now in this offseason, he says he wants to be the starter or be sent somewhere else.
Plus, he has a $14.5 million salary coming up in two seasons so the Titans will have to decide what to do with him...and fast.
Dash is a No. 1 back and is good to get in the late first to early second round. He will be better this season now that he is getting more touches.
Smash is a low-end No. 2 back because he will see less carries, but he will still be the Titans’ goal line option.
Justin Gage is a No. 2 receiver because Collins is not a big thrower, but with a healthy season could see 1,000 + yards.
Rob Bironas is a solid kicker, and with all the rushing plays the Titans use, there won’t be as many extra point opportunities as other teams, but there will be many more field goal attempts.
The sleeper is whoever the No. 2 receiver is, whether Washington or Britt. Either one can still get 800-900 yards and 5-7 touchdowns.
1st place (tiebreak over Colts with better division record)
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