As bad as the 2010 season was both on and off the field, the 2011 season has the potential to be even worse for the Tennessee Titans. They have a ton of questions that need to be answered before and during the season, and this article highlights my top ten.
As a prelude, I'd like to make my case for trading Jake Locker, now that we've drafted.
Since the Titans (read as my beloved Titans) are almost assuredly going to have a losing season due to their lack of talent and depth across the board, there is a high probability that they could secure an early pick.
So why do we have Locker again? Because new offensive coordinator Chris Palmer likes him? Palmer can learn to love a talent like Luck, too.
While I'm going to be behind Locker his entire career in Nashville, I want a Super Bowl for my Titans, and I think Luck is the type of franchise quarterback that can and will do it.
Gone is Tennessee Titans legend Keith Bullock. Is his former partner in crime Stephen Tulloch soon to follow?
Tulloch received only mild accolades as the middle linebacker in 2010, but his impact is much greater than his stat sheet. He is the only veteran in the linebacker corp and really grew into his spot as captain of the defense.
But many NFL analysts think that Tulloch days in Tennessee are over, and he will leave to test free agency. If so, the Titans have a glaring whole in the middle.
That would leave Gerald McRath, Wesley Witherspoon, and Rennie Curran to fill the void, and while I like all of those guys, they are a significant step down in 2011.
Derrick Morgan was the Tennessee Titans first round selection in the 2010 NFL Draft. His pass rushing abilities at Georgia Tech earned his All-America and ACC Defensive Player of the Year honors in 2009. He was supposed to be the next Jevon Kearse.
But in a game against the Denver Broncos in early October, he suffered a season-ending ACL tear. That obviously ended his season and postponed his ascension to the throne of Titans' leading pass rushers.
His coach Jim Washburn has jettisoned to the Philadelphia Eagles, and the Titans have done little to build the defensive line in his absence.
That means either they forgot to do so, or they think that Morgan will come back from his injury and be the player they think he can be. I hope it's the latter.
There's nothing like having a defensive end in the quarterback's face all day. It can do wonders for your defense, disrupting the running game and forcing interceptions in the passing game.
Can Morgan be that player?
Kenny Britt is no Pacman Jones. His long list of run-ins with the law don't indicate that he's a mean or cruel person like Jones' did. They indicate a player who is just very immature.
Most recently, he's been booked for DUI (marijuana), resisting arrest, and providing false information on a driver's license form. Dumb stuff. Immature stuff.
Regardless of his intent, the result is going to be the same unless Britt changes his ways as a member of the Tennessee Titans.
His 2010 season was shortened due to suspensions and injuries, and with the new list of crimes and tighter hamstrings due to the lockout, I'm afraid that 2011 could be similar.
He shown flashes of brilliant receiving abilities. Who can forget the way he and Vince Young won the game for the Titans in the final minutes against the Arizona Cardinals last year?
Just another reason that I'll be sad to see him go unless he can answer this question with a "Yes!"
Bud Adams is one of the immortal names in AFL-NFL lore. The fact that he's still not in the Hall of Fame is laughable, but I think and hope that ends soon.
That being said, he's 88-years old, rarely makes public appearances, and lives 780 miles from his team in Nashville. It's clear that his team is a far cry from its perennially competitive rosters back in the AFL days.
So what's going to happen when Adams is no longer the owner? His grandson Kenneth Adams IV is the most likely candidate and has been inside the organization for years getting an idea of how everything runs.
A new owner could be a great thing for the Titans, injecting some much needed modernism into the team.
I personally wish that Kenneth would sell the team to a family in East Tennessee that just so happens to own a portion of the Pittsburgh Steelers...
...the Haslam family. Founders and operators of the Pilot Travel Centers and also governor of Tennessee. It's too good to be true.
Owner Bud Adams has made it clear that he's finally done with the Vince Young era. It was a hard realization since Adams watched him come up since Pee Wee in their hometown of Houston. He sees Young as one of his own projects.
That project gets a grade of F.
After a stellar rookie season, Young was unable to find any sort of rhythm at the position. That was the least of his worries, though, when he started to call out highly-respected NFL coach Jeff Fisher.
He made a habit out of wearing his negative emotions on his sleeve and dividing the locker into supporters and detractors.
I can't see an NFL team giving him another legitimate shot to handle their play-calling but you never know...Al Davis...
The Tennessee Titans will want to get some sort of value for him in a trade, but if there are no takers, then he'll get a simple release and his fate will be up to someone else.
The aforementioned situation with Vince Young leaves the Tennessee Titans in a state of flux at the quarterback position for 2011.
Jake Locker was drafted in April, and second-year player Rusty Smith is on the roster, but that's it for the current depth chart.
Though Locker is almost certain to start some games this season, I highly doubt he'll be the Week 1 starter. Smith is out of the question.
So who's gonna be?
Kerry Collins is a decent option to resign for one year, but I like the idea of signing Matt Hasselbeck from the Seattle Seahawks. He isn't going to be back with his team, and still has a year or two left in him.
Carson Palmer would be another interesting option, but I don't think that'd happen.
Tennessee is a ways away from answering this all-important question.
Mike Munchak is a Hall of Fame offensive lineman and has coached the same unit with the Tennessee Titans since 1997. If he can parlay his experience as both a player and coach, his transition into the head coach position could be an easy one.
Offensive coordinator Chris Palmer and defensive coordinator Jerry Gray are good mixes of experience and energy.
Palmer has coached in four different football leagues and been all over the country, garnering mild success in the NFL.
Gray is a former teammate of Munchak and a defensive back guru. He had a short stint coaching the DBs in Tennessee and was apart of the AFC Champion coaching staff in 1999.
With the losses of legendary Jim Washburn, steady Mike Heimerdinger, and consistent Jeff Fisher, these new coaches need to learn their jobs quickly.
This is a question that every Tennessee Titans fan has in the back of his or her mind but doesn't want to verbally acknowledge. That's what I'm for!
Chris Johnson has never rushed for less than 1,200 yards in his three-year career and is one of only six running backs to ever run for more than 2,000 yards in a single season.
He is perhaps the fastest player in the NFL and the prototypical homerun threat for an offense.
But he's small and quite simply isn't good in between the tackles. His yards per carry aren't true to what he actually does--one yard here, no gain there, loss of four here, and 60 yard burst there--which is both a blessing and a curse.
Sometimes you have to run the ball for four yards no matter what. The chains have to move. That means Johnson will always be asked to run between the tackles, but how durable can such a small guy be?
Maybe it's my overly cautious fandom that clouds my thinking, but I'm scared of a huge dropoff in Johnson's number in the coming seasons.
Let me be clear. I was fully in favor of a coaching switch. Jeff Fisher was and is a very good coach, but has been vastly overrated by the media.
He has a 0.54 career winning percentage. Denny Green has a 0.61. Brian Billick has a 0.56. The only difference is that Green and Billick receive far less the love that Fisher does from the media.
He led his team to merely six winning seasons in sixteen full season as head coach.
He was 5-6 in the postseason, and lost in the first round both times when his team earned the AFC's top seed.
Why were we holding on to Fisher for so long?
Even with all of this ammunition, there is something to be said for having stability at head coach. Fisher was the essence of calm and probably curtailed many issues that could've become much bigger inside the locker room.
Really, this question is more about how it will take to get settled with a new coach. I hope it's Munchak, but the Titans' hands were tied with the lockout.
Bad timing, Bud. I hope we don't miss Fisher.
Let's be honest with ourselves. The Tennessee Titans are going to struggle in 2011. The question any realistic fan should ask is just how bad is going to be.
The Titans lost eight games two years ago and 10 games last year. I could easily see that number rising to 12 in 2011.
The one redeeming feature of the season for Tennessee is that it's the 23rd most difficult in the 32-team NFL. That's quite a bit better than the first-most difficult schedule of 2010.
Is it possible that the Titans' terrible 2010 stemmed from their tough schedule? Sure it is. But don't get too caught up in that mentality and let yourself get your hopes too high.
The Titans are rebuilding the coaching staff, the defense, and the quarterback position. Buckle in and get ready to cope.