2014 NFL Preview: Tennessee Titans

2014 NFL Preview: Tennessee Titans

For the last few years, The Tennessee Titans have been one of those sports franchises that is just kinda there. They aren’t abysmal, but there isn’t much buzz surrounding them either. Entering 2014, they remain an unknown. New head coach Ken Whisenhunt has a Super Bowl appearance on his resume, and defensive coordinator Ray Horton is a rising star in the 3-4 scheme. The coaching is the bright spot. However, the talent pool is bare. The quarterback carousel continues to spin and the team’s most recognizable player is gone. Needless to say, the Titans are in a state of flux. Once again, they are just kinda there. Here’s a preview of their upcoming season.

Outlook: Whisenhunt had his most success when Kurt Warner was under center. Jake Locker isn’t Warner and he might not even be the starter by season’s end. The backfield is up for grabs as are the starting receiving positions. The offensive line has spent draft picks and money over the last two years, but the expenditures have yet to pay dividends. Ray Horton has a lot of work to do getting the pieces to fit his 3-4 defense. This looks like a standard feeling it out year for everyone involved. No matter how many wins they total, jobs beyond 2014 will be on the line.

New arrivals: First-round pick Taylor Lewan is being penciled in at right tackle, although it’s unclear if he’s best suited for that spot. Second-round dual-threat running back Bishop Sankey will be given every opportunity to be the number one ball carrier with only the plodding Shonn Greene to beat out. Shaun Phllips might be 33, but he’s a natural OLB in a 3-4 and has amassed 19.5 sacks in the last two seasons. Wesley Woodyard has only one solid season in his career, but like Phillips, he has 3-4 experience. Dexter McCluster never became a dynamic weapon in Kansas City, but has a chance to find his niche as a full-time wide receiver.

Wave goodbye: Chris Johnson rushed for 1000 yards in each of his six years in Tennessee. Remove his 2000-yard campaign in 2009 and he’s still one of the league’s most productive backs. However, one too many dreadful outings and a tendency to point the finger of blame made his exit to the Jets easier. Alterraun Verner parlayed his Pro Bowl “contract” year in 2013 into a lucrative $26.5 million deal with the Bucs; he’s a quality cover corner and his presence will be missed in the secondary. A litany of injuries and off the field problems derailed Kenny Britt’s time with the Titans, so he’ll attempt to resurrect his career in St. Louis.

Over/Under wins – 7: They won 7 games a year ago with better talent and worse coaching. The AFC South is weak and the schedule has its share of winnable games. That said, a .500 season is improbable. Whisenhunt will apply the needed attitude adjustment, but unless Locker flips the script and morphs into a reliable signal-caller, the wins will be few and far between.

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