Nate Washington, Kenny Britt Solve Tennessee Titans' Receiver Dilemma

Daniel ShanksAnalyst IJune 6, 2009

PITTSBURGH - JANUARY 18:  Nate Washington #85 of the Pittsburgh Steelers attempts to make a reception against Frank Walker #41, Jim Leonhard #36 and Ed Reed #20 of the Baltimore Ravens during the AFC championship game on January 18, 2009 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

For as long as I can remember, the Tennessee Titans have always had a sub-par corps of wide receivers.

Even when the Titans went to the Super Bowl, Kevin Dyson and Derrick Mason weren't exactly setting the world on fire. That offense was all about Steve McNair, Frank Wycheck and Eddie George.

The offensive philosophy was pretty simple: Control the clock and keep the opposing offense on the sideline.

About a decade later, the faces were different, but the philosophy was the same.

Tennessee relied heavily on Chris Johnson and LenDale White, the best running back duo in the NFL. Kerry Collins made plays when he had to, but most importantly, he kept the Titans in games by avoiding mistakes. He was the consummate game manager.

That was all well and good until the Titans ran up against Baltimore in the playoffs. The Ravens, always known for having outstanding defenses, made sure that they shut down the run and forced Tennessee to beat them with the pass.

While Collins didn't have a horrible game (26-of-42, 281 yards, one interception), Baltimore held the Titans to 10 points and won 13-10, ending Tennessee's season much sooner than anyone anticipated.

There were a number of factors that conspired against Tennessee winning that game. First, the team committed three turnovers. Second, Johnson left in the first half with an ankle injury. Finally, the team committed 12 penalties.

But you can't help but wonder what would have happened if Tennessee had some bonafide receivers on the roster last year. Justin Gage had 10 catches for 135 yards.

What would a premier WR been able to accomplish?

With the sting of that loss still fresh, the Titans' front office sought to shore up the passing game by upgrading the wide receiver position.

First, the team went out and got Pittsburgh WR Nate Washington in free agency. While Washington's numbers weren't exactly stellar (40 catches, 631 yards, three touchdowns), he instantly gives Tennessee's receiver corps a boost.

In his previous four years in the league, Washington has averaged 16.4 yards a catch, showing that he's a legitimate deep threat. The Titans' offense will center around the running game, but the receiver out of Tiffin University will be a nightmare for defenses to handle, particularly on play-action passes.

It's important to note that Santonio Holmes and Hines Ward were the primary pass catchers, making Washington the third option (and maybe even the fourth behind Heath Miller). He should have a much more prominent role with the Titans.

Then the team went and drafted Kenny Britt out of Rutgers. Scouts bill Britt as a stout receiver who can take punishment and isn't afraid to go across the middle to catch a pass. His hands are a little shaky, but scouts expect him to come in and contribute immediately.

With an upgraded passing attack to go with the 1-2 punch at running back, Tennessee is one of my early favorites to reach the Super Bowl out of the AFC.


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