Let’s continue our “Damn the offseason, full speed ahead!” approach at Total Titans by taking a look at which Tennessee Titans stepped up with surprise showings last year.
This post will serve as part I in a two-part series of articles that will highlight the players who emerged as unexpected successes and the Titans’ biggest disappointments last season.
Cue the drumroll, please….Up next, the five biggest surprises for the Tennessee Titans in 2009.
Outside of Chris Johnson’s spectacular 2,006 rushing yard performance, perhaps the biggest story for the Titans in ’09 was the re-emergence of embattled signal-caller Vince Young.
Handed over the reigns to the starting QB position after the team’s disastrous 0-6 start, VY came through as he helped lead the Titans to a 8-2 finish to the season. Vince looked a lot more comfortable this time around as the starting QB, playing with a level of poise and having success in the passing game that we hadn’t seen out of the Texas alum previously.
Considering the flack that he took due to his struggles off-the field and on it in 2008, Young’s “vin-aissance” in my opinion, was the team’s biggest surprise of 2009.
Drafting a 1st round receiver isn’t so bad after all
After waiting over a decade, the Tennessee Titans decided to once again dip their hands into the first-round WR cookie jar by selecting Kenny Britt last April.
The move has paid off handsomely thus far, as the talented Britt surged past steady vet Justin Gage and newcomer Nate Washington as the team’s leading receiver (yards) in 2009.
I’m sure I’m not the only one looking forward to seeing what the physical Britt can do in the Titan passing game in 2010 and beyond.
From special teams to the starting lineup: The Gerald McRath story
Outside of special teams contributions, the expectations were minimal for this 4th round draftee in his rookie campaign.
Thanks to a myriad of injuries at the linebacker position, Gerald McRath was presented with the opportunity for playing time on the defensive side of the football. He made the most of his chances by playing solid, tough-nosed football.
I liked what I saw from McRath, and if he continues to improve, he’s likely to emerge as a stalwart at the LB position for years to come.
From performer to the invisible man: The Rod Hood story
Due to injuries at the CB position, Rod Hood was signed off the street to provide depth. Once he got on the field, he immediately became a playmaker by intercepting three passes in his first four games as a Titan.
His emergence quickly became an afterthought (at least to Jeff Fisher) as the established veteran starter (Nick Harper) for better or worse, reclaimed his starting position until injuries once again forced him out for the last game of the year. Meanwhile, Hood sat on the bench for each of the six games Harper returned to start.
Hood may or may not have a future as a Tennessee Titan beyond 2009 but I’m going to give credit where credit is due: in limited opportunities, Rod rose to the occasion and was a pleasant surprise last year.
Brett Kern: Job well done
Filling in for an injured Craig Hentrich, Kern stepped up with a solid performance as the team’s punter. He averaged 45 yards per boot while placing 23 of his 37 attempts inside the opponents’ twenty-yard line.
It’s not easy replacing a legend, but Kern did exactly that and with his solid showing, may have earned the job of the team’s punter in 2010 whether or not Hentrich decides to call it quits.
So that’s it for my thoughts regarding the team’s biggest surprises in 2009. Agree or disagree with my selections? Feel free to post your thoughts in the comments section below.