They say defense wins championships.
But for next year, the Tennessee Titans would be happy if it merely bred continuity.
Yes, it's true that coach Jeff Fisher almost always seems to find a way to rally his troops and avoid a losing record. But most folks in Nashville long for those halcyon days of the early aughts, when year-by-year competitiveness was the norm.
Ever since then, it has been one step forward, two steps back.
Or, in the case of this season, two steps back and one step forward.
So, what are the ideal scenarios that could unfold over the next few months? Here is a look at some; from the jackpot idealism to the ho-hum realism.
The Players (Defense)
A few chin-stroking prognosticators point to the offense, but the defense is what seems to be in the most need of help.
For the most part, that is. But more on that later.
No, the biggest difference the Titans can make in the draft and free agency (sort of, given the looming non-capped 2010) is to find leadership to replace Keith Bulluck.
Whether or not he is actually gone next year or not is incidental—even if he stays, a successor will need to be groomed.
In addition, a playmaking game changer is sorely needed. Right now, the stars on the defense are solid and respected leaders, at best.
However, Tennessee needs an Ed Reed or Dwight Freeney; players who command just as much attention and respect as their more flashy offensive counterparts.
Let's face it: not since Jevon Kearse, equipped with his Lawrence Taylor starter kit, have the Titans had that on that side of the ball.
Adam "Pacman" Jones showed flashes of brilliance, but was never able to sustain it.
This story's picture of Ndamukong Suhh is perhaps wishful thinking. Chances are, he won't be around by the time the (in this case, dubiously) resurgent Titans get their low-ish draft choice.
But one gets the point; a difference maker is needed to compliment the good offense.
The Players (Offense)
For the most part, Tennessee is set here.
Well...maybe not "set," but there are not exactly any gaping holes, either.
Granted, a true number one receiver is what comes to the minds of most when looking at the free agent market.
But that wouldn't exactly be the best choice, considering the notorious ego's of the money receivers and how they would potentially fit in with the Titans' offense.
See, as most know, the Titans offense runs through running back Chris Johnson. The Brandon Marshalls and Terrell Owens' of the world will most likely not get the 20-21 catch games that they enjoyed elsewhere.
They would simply be proven complements to bolster the offense, not sustain it.
There is the possibility that a replacement might need to be groomed for the aging center Kevin Mawae or tight end Alge Crumpler.
However, the majority of the positions are solid and have much to build on going into next year.
Season-to-season momentum is the proverbial unicorn of the NFL, especially in this day and age of unprecedented parity.
For instance, last year's 13-3, number one seed success translated into virtually nothing this season for the Titans.
And that's with the majority of the starters returning.
That said, consistency is the the name of the game next season. Yes, Tennessee's quasi-inspirational turnaround this year was a sight to see.
But most people would take a more even-keeled, Baltimore Ravens-esque, playoff-bound season over the one that the Titans had.
Simply put, players need to play to the level that they're capable. It may sound simple enough, but as was witnessed this year, it's easier said than done.
Throw in a few key draft picks and free agent pickups, and who knows what could happen next season.
In a perfect world, there will be less peaks and valleys, and there won't be two seasons to write about.
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