2009 Tennesee Titans Season Preview
After a surprise 13-3 season last year from the Tennessee Titans that ended with a Divisional Playoff loss to the Baltimore Ravens, head coach Jeff Fisher(pictured), and company seem to have all of the tools needed to make another run at the AFC South title and Super Bowl XLIV in Miami.
Lets take a look at some of the questions, position battles, and schedule for the 2009 Titans.
Vince Young: Is He Still the Future?
According to coach Fisher, Young will be the starter for the Tennessee Titans. When he becomes the starter, however, remains to be seen.
In four preseason games, the 2006 first-round pick has looked lost at times(vs. Dallas), and at times, looks like he is ready to take over should Kerry Collins get hurt (vs. Tampa Bay and Cleveland).
Young's inconsistency this preseason leaves many fans, including one B/R writer, with faith that diminishes with every mistake and is renewed with every good play. Should Kerry Collins go down(heaven forbid), will the Titans lose their rhythm, or will it be like the 2001 Patriots, when Tom Brady won the job and the Lombardi Trophy?
Judging by V.Y.'s statistics this preseason (34/57 377YDS 59.6% comp. 3TD 3INT, 7RSH 32YDS and 1 fumble lost), it appears the first outcome is the more likely of the two.
Who Will Replace Albert Haynesworth?
Jeff Fisher didn't hesitate to say that the loss of Haynesworth hurt the franchise, but his answer to the problem was the same of anyone who has any kind of depth, throw more guys in.
New Defensive Coordinator, Chuck Cecil will use a three man rotation at tackle. Jovan Haye, a free agent signee from Tampa, 2008 second-round pick Jason Jones, and this year's second round pick Sen'Derrick Marks form Auburn University, will be relied on to wear opposing offensive lineman out throughout the game in order to create more sack opportunities for the rest of the defense.
The Titans finally adressed their need at wide receiver in the draft when they took Rutgers star Kenny Britt with the 30th overall selection. Britt is a big receiver who can go up and fight for the jump balls and make the tough catches over the middle.
The Titans' next three draft picks, Marks(mentioned on the previous slide), TE Jared Cook(3rd round, South Carolina), CB Ryan Mouton(4th round, Hawaii) could all be asked to play some role this season.
Cook, an All-SEC second teamer, has the speed, pass catching ability, and athleticism to be one of the games best tight ends. He will be used the same way that Antonio Gates and Dallas Clark are, lining up in the slot in four receiver sets.
Mouton is a smaller corner at 5'9", but has above average strength and can jump through the roof. His primary role will probably be in nickel and dime packages. He also has experience in the return game, so he may be called upon to return kicks and punts.
The Titans will also call upon running back Javon Ringer, a 5th round pick out of Michigan State, to be the 3rd back behind the duo formally known as 'Smash and Dash" (LenDale White and Chris Johnson). Look for Ringer to contribute in blowout games, or should White or Johnson go down (again, heaven forbid).
Game to Watch: Week 1 @ Pittsburgh (8:30pm ET, NBC)
If the Titans want to make a statement that last year was no fluke, then I can think of no better place to start than the home of the defending champions. While the Steelers return 20 of 22 starters from a year ago, the Titans do the same. Expect a bloodbath on opening night as the Steelers will look to avenge the 31-14 butt-whooping they got in Tennessee last season that ended with LenDale White and teammates stomping on the "Terrible Towel".
Prediction: 24-21 Titans in one of the seasons best games.
Game to Watch: Week 6 @ New England (4:15pm ET, CBS)
With the return of Tom Brady (pictured), this game also becomes a statement game for Tennessee, as they travel to Gillete Stadium to take on many people's pick to win the AFC this year in the New England Patriots. A win in Foxboro would cement them as the class of the AFC. If the Titans can at least rough Brady up a bit, which it seems that every team has been able to do in the preseason, expect the game to go in the Titans favor.
Prediction: 31-17 Titans in another physical game.
Game to Watch(tie): Week 5 vs Indianapolis (1:00pm ET, CBS), Week 13 @ Indianapolis (1:00pm ET, CBS)
The AFC South will be won by either the Titans and Colts, and the two games that these rivals will play this year will play a big part in who wins it.
While I'm sure Tennessee's defensive backs are glad that they don't have to put up with Marvin Harrison anymore, the Colts' offensive lineman must be equally glad that they don't have to try and block Albert Haynesworth.
The games between the Titans and Colts are almost always close, as they seem to bring the best efforts out in each other, so don't be surprised if they split the two contests this year, I won't.
Prediction: Week 5: 24-14 Titans, Week 13: 28-24 Colts.
Season Prediction: 12-4, 1st, AFC South
The loss of Albert Haynesworth won't hurt the Titans as much as people think. Although their first half schedule is one of toughest in recent memory, after their week 7 bye, they play 7 teams that finished with a record of 8-8 or worse, and an 8th team that failed to win ten games (Arizona went 9-7 in 2008).
Look for another big year out of RB's LenDale White and Chris Johnson, and the defense shouldn't skip a beat under new coordinator Chuck Cecil. The most intriguing thing to watch this year will be the revamped passing attack.
For a final prediction, I feel that the Titans will be in Miami for Super Bowl XLIV. I don't normally make big predictions like this, but I see no reason that they can't do it.