Sometimes you hear about a team that is just one player away from breaking through. Or a team that is missing just one piece of the puzzle. It would be nice if that was the case with the Titans, but it’s not.
They’re missing six pieces of the puzzle. Actually, more than that, but I think improving six positions is the most that can be realistically expected during the upcoming offseason. And this doesn’t include an upgrade at the coaching position. This article focuses only on players.
These are the positions I’d like to see upgraded for next year, the six missing pieces. These aren’t necessarily listed by priority. I’ve listed these starting with the offense, then moving across the line and finally ending up in the secondary. We’ll take a look at these six positions after the jump.
QB - The quarterback play definitely needs to be upgraded. If Bud Adams decides Vince Young will upgrade the position, so be it. If not, someone else will need to. Trading for Kevin Kolb is a possible option if the Titans decide to go with a veteran. If you don’t go that route, it’s going to be a strong quarterback class in the first round of the draft. We’ll have plenty more to write about this on Total Titans in the coming months.
LG - The Titans have been terrible running the ball up the middle for the last several years and an upgrade is clearly needed. It would sure be helpful if the Titans could convert a third-and-short every now and then. Football Outsiders ranks the Titans o-line 30th in stuffed rank, 31st in power success and ranked the interior line 32nd in Adjusted Line Yards. The Titans are currently ranked last in the league in time of possession, a direct result of not being able to gain a yard or two to pick up a first down when they need to. A roadgrading, power run-blocking guard would do wonders for the offense.
DT - Ever since Albert Haynesworth left, the Titans have had problems stopping the run. The defensive tackles are quick, swarming and undersized. They need to have one more guy with bulk, someone who is stout against the run. A two-gap defender like Albert would be ideal. I’d settle for Albert if a trade could be worked out. Even when Albert took plays off, he had to be accounted for. Albert made the guys around him better and so could another big DT.
SLB - Gerald McRath didn’t look that good as a rookie when he had to finish out the 2009 season for an injured David Thornton. Not that I expected that much from him as a rookie. I hoped McRath would grow into the job when he became the full-time starter this year but he hasn’t. He still looks about the same as he did a year ago, with virtually no improvement, and you expect second-year players to make big improvements. Passes to tight ends and backs killed the Titans this year and if you’re looking to address the problem, you have to start by looking at McRath and Stephen Tulloch. This is a position which could be addressed in the first round.
MLB - Stephen Tulloch will be a free agent and is as poor in pass defense as he is good against the run. Unfortunately, he stays on the field in the nickel defense because he’s better than McRath in pass coverage. If that’s the best you can say about him – that he’s better than McRath – then that’s a problem. One thing in Tulloch’s favor: you can improve his value by upgrading the Sam next to him and the safety behind him. If you can find a Sam who can stay on the field in nickel, it allows you to bring Tulloch out, which you would like to since he should not be viewed as a three-down player. MLB is another position which could be addressed in the first round.
SS - If the Titans had anyone who could play better than Chris Hope, he ought to be on the field. Problem is, they don’t, which is why he’s still out there. Hope has one year remaining on his contract, and who knows, if Jeff Fisher sticks around, he might keep Hope around for his final year. He’d be worth keeping for depth but the starting spot needs to be upgraded. This is another position you can help out by upgrading elsewhere. A good pass rush early in the season helped to mask many of Hope’s deficiencies and perhaps the same will apply next year with a healthy Derrick Morgan. Safety is a position where it’s rare when one is taken early in the first round of the draft, so that’s something which should be addressed a little later in the draft.
Those are the positions I’ll be focusing on in the coming months and I’ll be looking at ways the Titans can upgrade those positions whether by trade, free agency or the draft. You can look forward to more articles from me on those six positions for the first few months of the new year all the way up to the draft in April.
For all of us at Total Titans, thanks for being with us this year and we wish all of you a very happy new year. If you’re going out New Year’s Eve, please be safe. We’d like to have you back with us for the coming year.