The red zone is no longer the dead zone for the Tennessee Titans

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In 2007 B.C. (Before Chris Johnson), the Tennessee Titans finished as the league’s worst team in the all-important category of red zone touchdown percentage.

A year prior to Dash’s arrival, sightings of Rob Bironas on field goal tries seemingly far outnumbered the kicker’s appearances on extra points. To make a long story short, many promising Titan drives ended with threes being added to the scoreboard instead of sixes.

Last year, the Titans’ red zone woes disappeared, thanks to CJ and the re-arrival of offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger. The team finished second behind only Peyton Manning and the Colts in red zone touchdown efficiency, crossing the goal-line on 28 of their 45 red zone opportunities.

In 2009, I’m expecting continued success from the Titans inside the twenties.

As I alluded to before, Chris Johnson’s presence played a huge role in the Titans’ night and day red zone performances from 2007-2008.

The 2007 squad that was often allergic to scoring touchdowns in the red zone lacked a dynamic weapon such as CJ; a guy who could command the attention of opposing defenses while simultaneously making life miserable for them by serving as a scintillating playmaker.

The memories of CJ’s thrilling rookie season that are etched in our minds mostly involve him making plays that cover long distances. However, a closer look at his debut also reveals the impact he also made via scampers of shorter distances.

Interestingly, seven of Johnson’s eleven total touchdowns (including postseason) took place in the red zone. While serving as a big-play threat, the stats also indicate his effectiveness inside the opposition’s twenty-yard line.

Of course, we can’t talk about the Titans’ vast improvement in the red zone last year without mentioning the re-arrival of Mike Heimerdinger. Dinger’s schemes and playcalling also played a key role in the team’s red zone success in ’08.

In 2009, CJ and Dinger should continue to pave the way for a ton of Titan success in the red zone. However, a couple of new weapons should also contribute to the team’s ability to convert red zone opportunities into touchdowns.

First-round draft pick Kenny Britt has the size and the ability to emerge as an ideal red zone threat. His ability to get past a cornerback’s jam should allow him to be the target of a few Kerry Collins’ fade routes deep in opponents’ territory in ’09.

Fellow rookie Jared Cook also has red zone success written all over him. Dinger is probably drooling about the type of matchup problems Cook can/hopefully will cause for the opposition in the red zone.

As you can see, I’m excited about what should be a continuation of red zone success for the Titans in ’09.

What do you guys think? Will the Titans be an even better red zone unit this season?  

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3 Responses to “The red zone is no longer the dead zone for the Tennessee Titans”

  1. Scott Says:

    It is hard to believe that they could be better than 70% in the redzone this year, but the Titans do have more weapons this year than last and that should translate into any even better TD to Field Goal ratio. CJ should be better his second year in the offence, the Collins to Gage chemistry that developed at the end of last season should continue to improve and the Titans added Washington, Britt and and Cook, which significantly upgrades the entire offence. Add to that Lendale’s extra motivation as a result of this being his contract year and the fact that the O-line remains intact and I think we have the makings of a redzone powerhouse this year.

  2. Drexel Perry Says:

    As always, thanks for commenting Scott.
    The Titans certainly have every right to be excited about this year’s offense. On paper, this group has a lot of potential.
    We’ll see if that potential is realized or not in 2009.

  3. Alvin Mullins Says:

    As much as CJ meant to the red zone offense, most of the credit I think goes to Dinger. Using Lendale to be a huge threat to score from 10 yds out. Using CJ on the corners, now add Britt who will be bigger than any CB or Safety. The Titans could be unstoppable!

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