The 2012 Titans: Younger but still old on offense, very young on defense

Before the season, I noted that the Titans were an interesting combination of pretty old on offense and pretty young on defense in 2011. I then tried to project how old the Titans would be in 2012, assessing them in the end as likely older than average on offense while being one of the youngest defenses in the league. Now that we have AV information for the 2012 season, we can evaluate just how old or young the Titans were and see if my predictions were close to accurate.

As I noted in that prior post, I'm not completely in love with AV as a metric, but it does allow us to evaluate which Titans contributed the most to the team in 2012. This is not a pure age-weighting, as most NFL teams appear younger than they really are thanks to older players generally being more important than younger players, who tend to be your cheap backups. I also didn't run full AV age metrics for the entire league, so I can't compare the Titans to every other NFL team in 2012. We have that data for 2011, though, and things should not have changed radically.

As I predicted, the Titans come out as somewhat older than average on offense. They had the league's fourth-oldest offense in 2011 at 27.8, but that came down to 27.46 in 2012. League average is close to 27.0, so the Titans were still old. As I keep noting, an old offensive line is a big reason the Titans are old on offense, and signing Steve Hutchinson did nothing to make them younger. The youth came in Jake Locker replacing Matt Hasselbeck at quarterback. Excluding the quarterback position entirely, the Titans offense comes out at basically league-average. The "skill position" players, beyond Hasselbeck, are all pretty young. Even the old man of the group, Nate Washington, does not turn 30 until just before the start of the 2013 season.

Again as I predicted, the Titans were particularly young on defense. Last year, they were the fourth-youngest defense in the league at an average of 25.9. In 2012, they got even younger, coming in at an average age of 25.2. Of the seven most valuable players as weighted by AV, only Kamerion Wimbley was older than average, while Michael Griffin was average at age 27. The other biggest contributors were all 25 or younger, and that doesn't even count Colin McCarthy.

Add them together, and the Titans come out pretty young overall. Their combined performance-related average age comes out at 26.3, a full half-year younger than they were last season. On the whole, that average age would rank them about the fifth-youngest team in the league based on 2011 results.

Does this tell us anything interesting about 2013? Maybe, maybe not. I'll probably revisit this topic closer to the start of the season, when we have a better idea of what the Titans starting lineup will look like. As a general matter, I would say the Titans should expect to be older on defense, as they'll probably return six or seven of those biggest contributors, all of whom will be a year older (funny how that works), while the offense has some potential to get younger or stay the same.

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