My thoughts on the 2008 Tennessee Titans

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A loss to the Chargers on that rainy January day in Southern California ushered in the seemingly eternal offseason. Free agency marked the return of former Titans such as† “The Freak” and Justin McCareins. Newcomers such as Alge Crumpler and Jake Scott were also brought into the fold.
Visions of playmaking and touchdowns emerged as a result of the team’s decision to draft speedy RB Chris Johnson. He wasted no time putting his rare abilities on display as he teased the fans with his electric 66 yard touchdown run in the preseason.
The offseason has finally ended and we’re only†days away from the beginning of another NFL season. Let’s take a look at what 2008 may have in store for the Titans.

Offense
As usual, the success of the Titan offense in 2008 will hinge on their running game. LenDale White looks to be new and improved after playing the 2007 season on a bad wheel. The aforementioned Chris Johnson should serve as the speedy change of pace back and a weapon for the passing game out of the backfield.
Speaking of the passing game, the return of Mike Heimerdinger will hopefully translate into a better year for Vince Young in 2008. Young had his share of struggles during the preseason as he attempts to familiarize himself with the new offense.
One positive that I took from Young’s performance in the preseason was the recommitment to Vince running the football. Vince is at his best when he is tucking it and running, as demonstrated by his Texas days. Dinger is also maximizing Young’s athletic abilities by allowing him to roll out more on passing attempts.
Young has faced a lot of scrutiny due to his poor performance in 2007 so hopefully, Dinger’s influence means bigger and better things for VY in 2008.
While we’re on the subject of scrutiny, perhaps no unit has faced more scrutiny than the Titan WRs. Despite the calls for the addition of a true #1 WR, the Titans only devoted a small free agent contract to Justin McCareins and a 4th round draft pick on Lavelle Hawkins to improve the position. The recent release of Roydell Williams has also raised some eyebrows.
It remains to be seen if the Titans’ value approach to the WR position will reap success for the passing game in 2008. Personally, I’m content with the starters at the position (Gage and McCareins) but my worries lie in the depth of the WR group. I do like the potential of Lavelle Hawkins but unfortunately, a high ankle sprain has limited his playing time during the preseason.
If the preseason is any indication, expect the Titans to utilize the TE position early and often in 2008. Alge Crumpler is a great red zone threat and hopefully his presence will open things up for fellow TE Bo Scaife in Dinger’s two tight end sets.
The undeniable strength of the offensive line is the†bookend tackle combination of†Michael Roos and David Stewart. Eugene Amano and free agent Jake Scott will replace last year’s starters (Jacob Bell and Benji Olson) at guard. Hopefully, veteran Kevin Mawae will continue to hold up at center.
Defense
I’m excited about the prospects of this year’s defensive line. Jevon Kearse appears to be rejuvenated and ready to prove to his many doubters that there is still some gas left in†the tank. Jason Jones has also looked good and will give the Titans some flexibility due to his ability to play DE and DT.
With the additions of Kearse and Jones and the presence of Albert Haynesworth and Kyle Vanden Bosch, the Titans’ d-line should be the source of recurring nightmares for opposing offensive lines this year.
Veterans Keith Bulluck and David Thornton missed some time during the preseason, but they should be ready to go against Jacksonville on Sunday. Ryan Fowler appears to have won the battle at MLB, but if he is unable to go, the versatile Stephen Tulloch is waiting in the wings.
Hope has been restored in the Titans’ secondary as a result of the return of veteran Chris Hope at safety. His partner in crime, Michael Griffin, is poised to become one of the better safeties in the game.
Speaking of break out players, Cortland Finnegan is getting his share of positive publicity. He recently signed a contract extension, so its nice to know that the Titans will have his services for the foreseeable future. Veteran Nick Harper mans the fort at the other CB spot and playmaker Vincent Fuller is the nickel.
Special Teams
Rob Bironas emerged as one of the league’s best kickers in 2007 and I’m expecting more of the same from him this year. The always reliable Craig Hentrich should continue to shine at punter.
Chris Carr was brought in to be the primary returner. However, the Titans have a few other options such as Chris Davis and Brandon Jones and I wouldn’t be shocked to see rookie sensation Chris Johnson back there when a big return is needed.
Prognosis
Despite being overshadowed by the “sexier” Colts and Jaguars, I’m expecting another solid year from the Titans.
They are very good in the trenches on both sides of the football and the running game and the defense are the team’s strengths. The passing game is a concern but by the end of the year, I am hoping that Dinger’s influence will make that unit a better one.
At the end of the day, Jeff Fisher will once again find a way to get this team into the postseason.
Predicted record: 10-6 (2nd place in AFC South, Wildcard birth).
What are your Titan predictions for 2008?

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13 Responses to “My thoughts on the 2008 Tennessee Titans”

  1. kevin G Says:

    I cannot wait for the season to start and I have a quick quesiton, I am curently living in kentucky and cannot watch the game on TV, is there a radio stream or any way to watch it over the internet that you know of?

  2. Markus Says:

    Hey Drex! Yes, it’s time for some football!!! I see the Titans in the same boat as the Jags. The 2 teams could see a division title, or they could implode and hit bottom. I do think the Colts days atop the South are numbered, possibly beginning this year. The Texans got a lot better and will make some noise. We, as a division, should walk all over the NFC and AFC North teams, allowing for perhaps another chance to send 3 teams to the playoffs.
    I think we’ll be okay with the additions and subtractions we’ve made. For the most part, I see an improved roster top to bottom. If we struggle to pass the football early on, look for Dinger to use lots of 2 TE formations and lean on them heaviliy, along w/ rolling VY out of the pocket. When LB’s and NB’s sniff it out and start playing contain, I see big ursts up the middle w/ LW or CJ, maybe even quick slants to the WR’s to loosen it back up. Our short-intermediate passing game will improve drastically. My hope is that it opens up the deep ball. However, the deep ball is something where we really need the WR’s to step up and get separation.
    The D looks better to me. My only major concern is an injury to Bullock or Thornton, perhaps why Allred and Keglar are up…insurance. Production would still slip though. Special teams should regain form and I also look to see CJ on returns if and only if wee depsratly need field position. Fisher won’t risk the asset unless the ROI is there…
    10-6 / 11-5, 1st or 2nd place in AFC South, WC berth
    anyway, I look forward to hearing everyone’s thoughts…happy opener!

  3. I.jason Says:

    Drex, good overview, but the grammar nazi in me had a spaz attack at this:
    “Chris Carr was brung in to be the primary returner.”
    Brung? *gag* Brought, please.
    Other than that, though, I agree with most of what you had to say (write).

  4. Seth Leonard Says:

    C’mon, jason…it’s a football blog read mostly by people attached in some part to Tennessee. Last time I checked, no one over that way really gave a damn about grammar.
    Looks like we’re in for a good season, barring injuries. Lets hope Hanesworth stays sharp, Bironas doesn’t wear his leg out too much and Chris Johnson gets 1550 all purpose yards. Fantasy note: Bironas was the best I’ve ever seen of any kicker, ever, last season. He’s not even on the list of preferred kickers on most fantasy lists. Hmm…
    Drex, I’ve noticed that the Carolina Tar Heels blog on MVN has been devoid of content since baseball season. I live in Chapel Hill and am in prime position to take up the mantle. None of the front office guys will respond..What can I do to become the blogmeister for that section?

  5. Drexel Perry Says:

    Seth,
    MVN is in the process of being re-launched, so until that takes place, there’s a freeze on bringing in new writers:
    http://mvn.com/join/
    The re-launching was supposed to have taken place last weekend, but due to some issues, it didn’t occur.
    As always, thanks for the comments, guys.

  6. Jared Says:

    Finally a season to look forward to again! the team looks ready and Big Al is the man. RBs are goona do great all is now in the hands of Vince Young, he’s gotta stay sharp and on his feet, laser passes and spectacular running is what I hope to see from him.

  7. Tom Gower Says:

    FieldPass, available for a fee through NFL.com, lets you listen to the radio broadcast of any team, including the Titans. Alternatively, Sirius Radio airs the game broadcasts of 31 NFL teams, though of course the Titans are the one team they don’t have any agreement with (or didn’t as of a month ago). Depending on where you are in Kentucky, the local station may have an agreement with Titans Radio to carry the games; check http://titansradio.com/stations.html for a nearby station. You can sometimes find radio streams available online, though the NFL frequently cracks down on these, much more in the regular season than in the preseason.
    Personally, I’ll be enjoying my third consecutive year with Sunday Ticket, and pitying anybody who doesn’t have it.

  8. David H. Says:

    Don’t have Sunday Ticket Tom, but luckily I cook at a sports bar so I’ll be able to keep tabs on the “Tennessee Tyrants” as well as the Jags, Colts and Texans while enjoying some good food, on my break of course.
    My prediction for the season is another solid outing by our boys. I see 11-5 or a repeat 10-6 with the same outcome of last year (three teams from the AFC South in the playoffs) but… We swap places with the Jags. I don’t think they’re as good as the national media suggests. I still don’t know what all the fuss is about??? Do any of you guys see a major contrast between both teams??? Our defense is better, our special teams unit is better, and If VY plays like he did in his rookie season starting week 1, our offense will be lethal. They finished 1 game better in the standings last season, their receivers are not worth screaming over, and look at all the distractions and injuries they’ve faced this off season. No way they’re better than us on the field, maybe on paper. I guess thatís why they play the games.
    Side predictions… CJ finishes second in voting for offensive ROY, Haynesworth has the same amount of sacks but more tackles and gets the mother of all contracts for D-linemen next year. Vince will struggle early, but by week 5 or 6 will finally put some of his critics to rest when he becomes comfortable and embraces this offense. “THE FREAK” gets possible comeback player of the year recognition.

  9. kevin G Says:

    honestly, I think that the there is very little diffrence between us and jacksoville, and it will be a tossup who the top 3 teams are (sorry huston, need one more year), and all three could easily could finish above 10-6. the reason i think we get 2nd is we are better in devision than jacksonville, and i think that will be the deciding factor. indy is starting to get a little long in the tooth, but they still have at least one more year in them.

  10. David H. Says:

    One more question thatís been on my mind and really bothering me since the final cuts… How dose a rookie 4th round receiver from Cal, with one big play and a few other solid plays this off-season, beat out our second best receiver from last season (statistically) for a roster spot??!!?!? Fisher and Dinger said that roster spots especially at WR will not be “guaranteed” based on last years success and production. Fish also stated that he wants to go into the season with a “healthy” receiving core. Did Lavelle play at all after injuring his ankle in week two of the preseason??? Is he healthy enough now to play as a 3rd maybe 4th option at WR???!!? RW also a 4th round selection is recovering from a legitimate ankle injury (BROKEN) and showed way more reliability and production than every receiver other than Gage last season. But I guess I just answered my own question. The way this team judges and critiques WR production just amazes me every time!!!! Iím not bashing Lavelle Hawkins, but I still think the coaching staff made a mistake in cutting Roydell. I think Lavelle will be a solid receiver, but I wonít be surprised if his high ankle sprain bothers him throughout the season especially in the next couple of weeks.

  11. Drexel Perry Says:

    David H.,
    The difference between the Jags and the Titans last year was QB play. Garrard had a much more efficient season in 07 than VY.
    Hopefully, the tables will turn in 2008.
    As for Lavelle, he was brung in during a draft in which Dinger had input. Williams was a “Chow guy”.
    Perhaps a bigger reason Lavelle made it over Roydell is the contract status of each player. Roydell’s deal is on the verge of ending whereas Lavelle is on the books for the next few years.
    I’m with you in hoping that Lavelle will overcome his high ankle sprain and contribute as soon as this season.

  12. jerryt. Says:

    Titans will suprise & surpass the jag’s & colts. This will be the year vince finally gets his groove cause himer is a damn good coach and vince is a damn good QB and the defense is a monster first game will tell it all. good season or bad season since everybody is healthy i expect a solid perfomance by our offense & defense. Levall has all the tools to be great in this offense.

  13. Dave Says:

    I wouldn’t base the entire season on this one game, We beat the Jags pretty good in week one of last year. As we all know they went on to a better record and advanced further in the playoffs. Let’s hope that we learn from our mistakes, stay injury free, and make it deep into the playoffs….February deep

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