The 2013 Titans: Still older on offense, still young on defense

Back in 2011, the Titans were an interesting combination of very old on offense and very young on defense. In 2012, things changed somewhat-the Titans got somewhat younger on offense, but were still older than average. On defense, they were older than they were in 2011, but were still one of the younger teams in the league. In 2013, the Titans were basically the same age they were in 2012.

The basic methodology remains the same-using Pro-Football-Reference's Approximate Value reference as a rough guide to the value of players. I'm still not in love with AV as an overall metric, but for this purpose I think it's more useful than looking at an overall roster to determine the value of a team (worthless, since going particularly young or old with backups can easily skew a team's average stats) or even snap-weighted age (though the results it presents tend to be similar to AV-weighting).

In 2012, the Titans had an AV-weighted offensive age of 27.46. In 2013, it was 27.48. Unlike, say, 2011, there was no single position group that particularly aged the Titans. Rather, many of their most valuable contributors (by AV) were older players across the defense-Ryan Fitzpatrick, Chris Johnson, Michael Roos, David Stewart, and Nate Washington were all older than the average player, Andy Levitre at 27 is of average age, and only Chance Warmack and Kendall Wright were younger than average. Obviously a healthy Jake Locker would have changed those numbers-had he played all seasons and put up Fitzpatrick's value, the overall offensive AV-weighted age drops by a full half-season.

Still, the sheer list of older key contributors on offense adds to Ken Whisenhunt's job as head coach. CJ may get cut this offseason, and the Titans need a younger back. Stewart's probably getting cut, and unless they like Byron Stingily more than I think they do, they'll be looking for a new right tackle. Wright and Justin Hunter are their receivers of the future, but Washington's continued presence emphasizes the need for another receiver. Oh, yeah, Delanie Walker is also 29. For those who prefer snap-weighted age, the age drops by two-tenths of a year. That's the right direction, but it still makes the Titans older than average on offense.

In 2013, the Titans were older but still pretty young on defense. Their AV-weighted age in 2012 was 25.2. In 2013, their AV-weighted age was 25.8, under the 25.9 it was in 2011 when they were the fourth-youngest defense in the league. Unlike on offense, their most valuable players were all still young: Alterraun Verner 25, Jurrell Casey 24, Derrick Morgan 24, Zach Brown 24 (yeah, Brown over e.g. Jason McCourty; that's AV for you). Even their older players weren't old. Kamerion Wimbley and George Wilson, who each played little and did not contribute much (both were in a 4-way tie for the 15th most valuable player on the Titans), were the only defensive players older than 29.

The story on defense is mostly the same by snap-weighted age. As you'd expect with all the young key contributors, it comes out closer a quarter-year closer to league average. No matter how you slice it, then, the Titans were still young on defense.

Put the two together, and the Titans come out on the whole younger than average-26.65 by AV-weighted age and 26.74 by snap-weighted age. I haven't run leaguewide age-weighted or snap-weighted AV for 2013, and I'm not going to. Using 2011 as our baseline, since that data is available, the average team AV-weighted age was 27.0, and the Titans would have ranked as roughly the ninth-youngest team in the league. That's the right side of the aging curve for a mediocre team to be on (old and not very good is exactly where you don't want to be). The challenge now is the same it's been the past two offseasons-improving the young defenders and molding them into a very good defense while continuing to make sure they aren't too old and too reliant on older players on offense.

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