Four AFC teams finished the 2009 regular season with 9-7 records. Two of them, the Ravens and Jets, will move on to postseason play. The other two, the Steelers and Texans, are out of the playoff race after losing tiebreakers.
With just one more win, the 8-8 Tennessee Titans could have joined that group at 9-7. Depending on which team they beat to get that one extra win, they might have won a tiebreaker to claim one of those wildcard berths.
Wonderful, just one more win and they might have made the playoffs. Sounds great, right?
Well, it would have been nice, but the fact is the Titans are a very mediocre team. The playoffs would have been a one and done deal.
The three top teams in the AFC all faced the Titans this year and all of them made it look like men playing against boys. Indianapolis, New England and San Diego whipped Tennessee by a combined score of 159 to 43 and it could have been a lot worse. I see no reason why that trend would change in January.
Another way to gauge the Titans is by looking at their opponents’ records. The Titans were 2-6 against teams with winning records and 6-2 against teams with losing records. This demonstrates Tennessee was usually good enough to beat the weak sisters but not good enough to beat the big boys. Titans, mediocrity is thy name.
Although fans of many teams would be ecstatic if their team had back to back 13-3 and 8-8 seasons, Tennessee fans have suffered extreme disappointment.
The 2008 team was good enough to go all the way, and might have, if they hadn’t been knocked out of the postseason after Chris Johnson was knocked out of their opening round game.
We then knew the window was closing and the 2009 team would have to get it done. It would be the last season a lot of Titans would wear two-tone blue and there would be many changes taking place in 2010.
That’s where the Titans are now. While we don’t yet know which free agents will stay and which will leave, we do know areas the team needs to upgrade.
On offense, there’s a lot of work to do to become above average in the passing game, as Tom pointed out in his analysis of Vince Young and the Chargers.
Defensively, the Titans need help at corner and weakside linebacker. The d-line needs an edge rusher and a run-stuffer. There’s an obvious need to upgrade the safety play, although I suspect we may not see any personnel changes there.
The special teams have a solid kicker and punter but the return game was woeful last year. A top-notch return man should be another priority.
Hopefully, all of these will be addressed in free agency and the draft.
On the plus side, the Titans have arguably the best running back in the league, a dynamic quarterback and a very good offensive line. There are some promising young players who are still improving and who the defense can rebuild around.
We plan on discussing all of the above, and more, in the months ahead. I second Drexel’s thanks to all of you in his most recent article and hope you’ll continue to be with us on Total Titans as we follow the Tennessee Titans throughout another year.