Crumpler and McCareins are under-appreciated

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If you only look at what they did as pass-catchers, both Alge Crumpler and Justin McCareins were disappointments in the 2008 season. Their combined stats were for 54 receptions for just 669 yards and only one touchdown. Crumpler wasn’t the red zone playmaker we thought he would be and McCareins wasn’t the deep threat we had hoped for. Still, I maintain that each of them were very valuable to the Titans in a way that doesn’t show up in their individual stats.

The Titans are a run-oriented, run-first team, and Crumpler and McCareins are both very good blockers. Give them credit for a lot of Chris Johnson’s and LenDale White’s rushing yards.

Crumpler is Tennessee’s best blocking tight end since Erron Kinney. He’s a tough blocker on the line like Kinney was, not a H-back like Frank Wycheck or Bo Scaife. I’ll give both of them some credit though. Frank wasn’t the best blocker but he tried and often got the job done. Props to Scaife too, who has improved as a blocker in the last few years.
 
McCareins is the team’s best blocking receiver. Since the Titans’ preference is to run the football, I want him on the field. Who would you rather have to block downfield for Dash and Smash? McCareins, Justin Gage, Brandon Jones or Lavelle Hawkins? It’s no contest. McCareins is clearly the best blocker of the group. Gage, Jones or Hawkins might go through the motions and try to make it look good, but about the most they can do is try to shield somebody and hope to get in their way. Not McCareins. He’ll block somebody. 
 
Now, if aliens from outer space abduct Jeff Fisher next week and brainwash him, the Titans may turn into a pass-happy offense, in which case Crumpler and McCareins no longer have as much value. But lacking an alien abduction and brainwashing which changes Tennessee’s offensive philosophy, Crumpler and McCareins are the guys I want on the field.
 
Crumpler is still under contract for 2009 but McCareins is a potential free agent. I’d like to see the Titans re-sign him. What are your thoughts about the two of them?
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9 Responses to “Crumpler and McCareins are under-appreciated”

  1. Seth Leonard Says:

    Blocking is critical, but I personally think that alone is not enough. You simply can’t drop balls if there is a WR next to your name in the program. J-Mac has done poorly for us in the past, and somehow we ended up with him again. This guy was too scrubby for the Jets, how can he think he’s good enough for the Titans?
    Let’s see some fresh faces, especially Hawkins. I’ll take the drop in blocking if it means a spike in caught balls.

  2. bobcomu Says:

    Crumpler is worth his weight in gold for his veteran leadership, and he can get it done in the receiving game but he wasn’t used very much at all in that area this year. While downfield blocking in the Titans style of offense is very important a wide RECEIVER has to be able to catch the ball and Macareins proved week after week that he cannot do that on a consistent basis. And while I also doubt the Titans will take a receiver early on draft day just imagine the speed of a Jeremy Maclin or Percy Harvins on the same field as CJ. No defense in the league has enough speed to handle that.

  3. Garland Says:

    I am with these guys, Andrew. Blocking INSTEAD OF catching is fine for a tight end, but it is not fine for a wide receiver. Blocking has to be a secondary feature of a WR, not his primary skill. If we ran three wide with McCareins only in to block, that would be one thing. But when he is one of your two main passing options, that’s not going to cut it. We need two WRs on the field who can get open and then catch the ball when it’s thrown to them. JMac has shown that he can’t be counted on to do that consistently. At the most, McCareins should be kept around as a 3rd or 4th receiver, but he should not be starting over 12Gage, Hawk, and Jones. So I say let him walk but keep Alge around for another year.

  4. Drexel Perry Says:

    Good post, Andrew.
    I agree with Garland and the rest of the guys. I have no problems with Crumpler returning for another year but as for J-Mac, I’m not too enthused about the potential of seeing him back in the two-tone blue in 2009.
    However, considering his history with Dinger and his blocking skills, I’m almost expecting McCareins to be re-signed, unfortunately.

  5. footnmouth fan Says:

    Since the Titans are a run-oriented team, I’ve got an even better idea… trade all of the wideouts, except for Mac, for late round draft choices. Then, use those draft choices on mobile guards. Stick an 80s number and some gloves on all of them, except for one, and call it a day. That one special guard can become a QB, and the Titans can play some real 11 on 11 football!
    The truth is, Mac missed a few games, and if I recall, the Titans still racked up a few rushing yards. If there is a drop-off in blocking from the WRs, it can’t be that much.

  6. Scott Says:

    Several weeks ago I watch a piece on the NFL Network where Brian Baldinger examined the reasons why the Giants run offence had declined so much near the end of the season. One of the things that he came up with was the absence of the big play receiver, Plaxico Buress, that had (until his suspension) forced defences to respect the pass. And what Baldinger demonstrated, in a number of video clips, was that opposing defences always had to keep a safety high to protect the cornerback who was charged with defending Buress. This meant that, at most, opposing defences could put no more than 8 men in the box to defend the run when Buress was on the field.
    It made me think (and still makes me think) that if the Titans had a receiver of that caliber (perhaps even a Derrick Mason type receiver) CJ and Lendale would face fewer defenders at the line of scrimmage and avoid the 9 men in the box scenario that we saw in a number of games this season (particularly the Bears game).
    In my view, the impact that a game-breaking wide receiver has on the running game is far superior to having a receiver that blocks well – especially if blocking is the only thing that the receiver does well at this point in his career. I agree with everyone else – let’s get rid of McCareins and draft or sign a game-breaking receiver.

  7. jdarkness Says:

    interesting assessment and I would agree with the original article. i think you bring both mccareins and crumpler back. while neither is a breakout threat, they know the system, have some rapport with collins and vy, don’t complain about how many catches they get or don’t get, have a lot of expeience as “mentors” and role players, and they are cheap. not sure if breaking up that chemistry is necessary for the team. bring in a game-breaker and he’ll be complaining in no time that there is too much “smash and dash”. maybe move around the line-up and bring in another guy or draft someone but no reason to drop crumpler and mccareins.
    last i checked crumpler won a game for them with the winning td. role player otherwise. mccareins came up nicely against pitt and against green bay with a key catches and first downs down the stretch. role player otherwise. statistically, they didn’t do much but the system is not about receivers. mccareins missed 2 to 3 games with injuries so full yr stats don’t tell the full picture for him.
    here would be key to look at for me… get someone to make some plays down the field. gage clealy showed up making big plays if needed. on the other side you need a posession receiver to just keep the titans in the game and as noted to be a lead blocker – and not complain about his role. jones or mccareins can do that. since mccareins is the topic, i’ll note that almost 80% his catches were first downs. this is meaningful. get to the sticks and you sustain drives. and as noted mccareins is willing to throw himself in the mix blocking. he had drops as did gage (remember the first few games after he returned from injuries), crumpler, and every other receiver.
    all said, it’ll likely be the year for jones to play no. 2 and mccareins perhaps no. 3. no reason not to keep mccareins and crumpler tho. solid players who’ll do their part.
    lastly, tough to say either of those guys are a disappointment. no one expected a probowl year or a breakout season, just for them to help the team win. they met expectations from that perspective and the team won.

  8. Andrew Strickert Says:

    Fellas, thanks for reading and taking the time to comment. We’ll be doing plenty more of this kind of thing during the offseason.

  9. Kelli Lucus Says:

    I think Justin is a great blocking receiver and took a lot of hits this year. I hope the Titans bring him back.

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