The 2009 Tennessee Titans’ 0-4 start brings back memories of the last time the franchise started a season in such futile fashion.
In 2006, the Titans dropped their first five games. An ineffective Kerry Collins was benched after Week 3 with scintillating rookie Vince Young taking his place. Of course, the rest is history, as VY helped lead the Titans from mediocrity to respectability by guiding the team to a near-playoff berth.
With the Titans’ circumstances of ’06 having an eerily similar feel to them, could history repeat itself in 2009?
Both the 2006 and 2009 squads entered their respective campaigns with a great sense of hunger.
In ’06, the Titans were fresh off their cap purgatory years when limited spending forced the team to lose several key players while failing to replenish that talent through free agency. The end result of that dire situation was a combined 9-23 record from 2004-05.
With some money to burn, the Titans signed veterans David Thornton, Nick Harper, Kevin Mawae, Chris Hope and David Givens. With the presence of some veteran talent, the ’06 Titans were poised to make some progress.
Unfortunately, that progress wasn’t evident early on in the ’06 season. Kerry Collins, who was signed right before the season started, never got comfortable and struggled out of the gate. Albert Haynesworth’s forgettable decision to stomp Andre Gurode was a distraction the team didn’t need.
Getting back to the hunger subject, the 2009 Titans should have had a ravenous appetite stemming from last year’s frustrating end to what was an amazing season for the ’08 Titans.
Penciled in from the start by many as a legitimate Lombardi Trophy contender, despite the losses of Haynesworth, defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz and return extraordinaire Chris Carr, many were still expecting the Titans to continue their success in ’09.
Unfortunately, the Titans have been anything but successful this year.
So can the ’09 Titans follow in the footsteps of their ’06 predecessors?
I think the answer to that question will arrive via the outcome of this weekend’s Indy game.
Fittingly, a loss to Indy during the ’06 season was a turning point for the changing of that Titan teams’ fortunes. Coming up short during a painfully close 14-13 defeat to the undefeated Colts, Jeff Fisher’s troops competed hard. The Titans ran for over 200 yards on that day and on defense, held Peyton Manning to only 166 yards passing.
The loss was a bitter pill to swallow, but the following week, the Titans defeated the Redskins 25-22 to get their first win and for the remainder of the season, won seven out of their last ten games to finish 8-8.
The 2009 Titans need a similar performance (except this time, a win) against yet another undefeated Peyton Manning-led Colts team. Playing in front of the home crowd with a national television audience watching, it’s paramount for the Titans to show some signs of life against their division rival.
Of course, the decision to bench Collins in favor of Young paid dividends for the Titans in ’06. Whether or not history even has a chance of repeating itself in that regard will be determined by a stubborn Jeff Fisher, who, to the dismay of many, doesn’t intend on jettisoning Kerry to the pine anytime soon.
So there you have it, folks. Two Titan teams with strikingly similar circumstances seemingly traveling along a familiar path. The ’06 squad did their part: Now it’s time for the ’09 guys to follow suit.
Will history repeat itself?