Teen Titans Who?: How to Fix the Tennessee Titans
You know what’s awesome about DC’s Teen Titans?
They’re the super hero group that most people (who aren’t 10 and don’t watch a lot of Cartoon Network) don’t know about. Admittedly, when Robin (of Batman and Robin fame for all you non-comic people…or people who have been living under a rock for the last 30 years) is the most famous member of your group, it’s almost like you’re a super dance group led by Left Shark of Super Bowl fame. Yeah, you’re pretty cool on your own, but without Katy Perry it’s tough for you to head up your own group. Although I do really like his “choreography-be-damned” attitude”:
Well, the Tennessee Titans are basically becoming the Teen Titans. They have a couple interesting characters, but no standouts, and the team as a whole is starting to fade into obscurity. Let’s take a look what’s wrong with the Titans.
The better question to ask here is “what isn’t a problem for the Tennessee Titans?” The Titans have been a catastrophe since losing to the Baltimore Ravens in the 2008 Divisional playoffs. In six seasons since then, they’ve averaged only 6 wins a season, with only one season with a winning record (9 wins in 2011) and reaching an all time low in 2014 with 2 wins, only 1 of which was in the AFC South.
In 2014, Tennessee had the 4th worst offense in total yards (4859) and 3rd worst offense in points per game (15.9). And the defense didn’t do any better being the 6th worst in total yards allowed (5968) and 3rd worst at points allowed per game (27.4). The Titans were outscored on average by more than 2 scores per game (11.5 points) and had a -10 differential of takeways to giveaways, good for 5th worst in the NFL.
Frankly speaking, the Titans are what one would refer to as a “ginormous hot mess”. So, what should the Titans do in the off-season to turn this “Titan”-ic disaster around? Let’s take a look.
The Titans have a plethora of free agents this year, but only a few to worry about.
First, there’s Nate Washington, who, like the Titans, has been on a slow decline since 2008 through last year when he ended up with only 647 yards and 2 TDs, including an embarrassing 0 catch game against the Colts to end the season. Washington isn’t what he used to be, but he does like the Titans and he is an experienced veteran. With his decreased production, he’ll likely be available for a discount. It’ll be good to have some stability for underachieving Justin Hunter and Kendall Wright (and potentially a later round WR flyer in the draft). There’s potential here, and unless the Titans plan to take Amari Cooper in the draft (which I don’t think they should), better to have Washington as the WR3 then take a flyer on someone more expensive in free agency.
Linebacker Derrick Morgan should also be re-signed. Morgan had 63 tackles and 6.5 sacks while being ranked by Pro Football Focus as 8th among 3-4 outside linebackers. He’s incredibly versatile as he can play in a 4-3 as well as a 3-4 defense. Regardless of what scheme the Titans play, they shouldn’t lose Morgan.
With any luck, perhaps Titans’ cornerback Jason McCourty will be able to bring his brother, free agent safety Devin McCourty over from the Patriots. It’s unlikely the Pats will let him go, but if Jason is successful, this would be an incredible coup for Tennessee.
Last, since the Titans struck out last year with Shonne Green and with drafting Bishop Sankey (admittedly, there’s the possibility that Sankey could develop into more, but he certainly didn’t show it in his rookie year), adding a RB in free agency should also be a priority. And with the RB free agency market fairly robust, it shouldn’t be difficult for the Titans to acquire one.
Some potential targets that the Titans shouldn’t have to break the bank to obtain include Shane Vareen, Justin Forsett and Mark Ingram. Although he played above his head last year, I like Justin Forsett best. He showed great versatility and plays hard. The Titans will need to commit to a long term contract, since Forsett mentioned that commitment was the most important factor for him:
“I’ve been bouncing around this league for a while and I want to be able to have my family in one spot, so at least for the next couple years I want to be in one spot.”
Shouldn’t be a problem for the Titans. And this will allow the Titans to focus on building the offensive and defensive lines for more than one season.
Now to the draft.
One of the few benefits of having an historically bad season is getting a high draft pick. And thus, the Titans have the second pick this year.
It’s fairly certain that the Titans will give Zach Mettenberger a full year to sink or swim. And honestly, that’s the right move. The QB free agent market is abysmal, and neither Winston or Mariota are sure things (whichever is left after the Bucs make their pick, which I believe should be Mariota), so why take the chance? Best case scenario is to trade down in the draft to a QB needy team and take a defensive prospect later in the first round.
Honestly, the two best targets for the Titans in the draft if they don’t trade down are DE/OLB Randy Gregory and DL Leonard Williams. Personally, I’d go with Randy Gregory. He’s a QB’s worst nightmare and certainly can bring some teeth to the pass rush as well as have good awareness against opposing running backs. But don’t take my word on it, check out his highlights:
So there you go, Tennessee. You have a lot of work to do, but I have confidence in you.
As much confidence as I have in Left Shark starring in “Step Up 8: Hotter Underwater”.