Tennessee Titans 2005 Preview

By John Onan  |   Thursday, August 04, 2005  |  Comments( 0 )

Tennessee Titans
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The Tennessee Titans had high expectations heading into the 2004 season, but those were dashed early on after a rash of injuries. The most notable injury was to QB Steve McNair, who even contemplated retirement at the end of last season. The second most notable injury was to Chris Brown; the man who replaced Titan great Eddie George. Jeff Fisher returns for his 11th season and with all the free agent losses the team has incurred, this may prove to be his toughest assignment yet.

Team Strengths: Yes, even with all the free agent departures, most notably WR Derrick Mason and CB Samari Rolle (both went to the Baltimore Ravens) there do remain a few strong points. Last month, the Tennessee Titans acquired RB Travis Henry, who had been displaced in Buffalo. This gives them two 1,000 yard rushers. Henry went over 1,300 for the Bills in both 2002 and 2003, but lost his job to the team's top pick in 2003, Willis McGahee. No matter which one starts, both Travis Henry and Chris Brown will see action and this will help take a ton of pressure off Steve McNair.

The Tennessee Titans had a great 2005 NFL Draft, not only getting West Virginia CB Adam Pac Man Jones (currently a holdout), but also adding three guys who give them much needed depth at wide receiver. Brandon Jones, Courtney Roby, and Roydell Williams won't come close to replacing Mason's numbers, but all three could develop into solid NFL players. Coach Fisher has also been impressed with the work second round pick OT Michael Roos has put in so far in camp; he could earn a starting role sometime during the season.

Bringing in Norm Chow, who helped engineer the potent USC Trojans offense during their championship seasons in 2003 and 2004, as offensive coordinator may give this young offense a boost. His system will emphasize Steve McNair getting rid of the ball early, spread the ball around, and mix in the run with his two horses. Chow will definitely be an asset to the Titans offense.

Weaknesses: Way too many holes and inexperienced guys on defense. The Titans will benefit from having OLB Peter Sirmon and the Rocky's (Calmus and Boiman) back and healthy to complement Keith Bulluck, who I believe is one of the best in the league. But, fact remains, the secondary was weak last season, and with Rolle and Andre Dyson gone, it could be worse. Pacman Jones is considered their most talented player in the secondary, but if he doesn't get into camp soon, or gets in trouble with the law again, there could be major problems (you know you're in trouble when you're counting on a rookie to lead your secondary). Tony Beckham and Andre Woolfolk will hold down the reigns for now, with the team hoping safety Tank Williams will be ready for the season after tearing his ACL mid-way through 2004. Lamont Thompson is the other safety and there's not much depth behind them.

The front four is talented, but either unproven or injury prone. DT Albert Haynesworth is the best of the bunch, but his last season was cut short by elbow problems. They do have depth on the defensive line, but those guys have very little experience.
Another glaring weakness could be in the kicking game, where Joe Nedney and Gary "Father Time" Anderson were let go. That leaves journeymen Ola Kimrin and Rob Bironas battling for place kicking duties. The punt and kick return jobs are also up for grabs since Jones is still holding out.

Also WR Drew Bennett had a nice season in 2004 (80 catches 1,247 yards) but will need the young guys to grow up fast. TE Ben Troupe is improving and will be a nice target for Steve McNair.

Overview: This is going to be a very long year for Fisher's team. Too many questions but not enough players to answer them. Having a healthy Steve McNair would be an upgrade from Billy Volek, but with all his injuries it's not a certainty. Chow will make the team interesting to watch, but none of these young receivers are going to replace Mason, which leaves only Bennett as the lone dependable target downfield.

As I stated earlier, the defense could be horrible; the best you can hope for is below average. This is not good enough when you play Peyton Manning, Byron Leftwich, and David Carr twice a year. The Tennessee Titans will be hard pressed to match last years 5-11 record; 4-12 or 3-13 is very possible.
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