The Tennessee Titans’ 2009 report card: Offense

Photo by Andrew Strickert for Total Titans

David Stewart is the Titans best o-lineman. Photo by Andrew Strickert for Total Titans

Now that the season is over, it’s time to review the players’ performance over the last three months. We’ve been doing that, of course, on an ongoing basis but not yet for the entire season.
These grades are only for offensive plays and do not include players’ performance on special teams, which will be in a separate article. The grades are followed by comments based upon my observations over the course of the season.
It all starts with the guys up front, so we’ll start there.
Offensive line: They paved the way for Chris Johnson’s record setting season and allowed only 15 sacks. That doesn’t mean they were all great.
David Stewart: A
Big Country was without question the best player on the line in 2009. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised to see him named to the All-Pro team again. Whatever it is that Chris Johnson buys for his o-linemen, Stewart ought to get two of them.
Jake Scott: B
He’s got to be the most underrated guy on the line. Maybe it’s because Roos and Mawae, and Stewart to some extent, get most of the recognition. Scott just doesn’t get all the credit he deserves. O-linemen don’t get much love but Jake deserves at least some more appreciation.
Michael Roos: B-
I’m surprised he was named as a Pro Bowl alternate this year. He simply did not play as well last year as he did in 2008, when his honoraria were justly deserved. There’s something to be said for reputation and name recognition.
Eugene Amano: C
He used to be considered the weak link in the line but he definitely wasn’t in 2009. I wouldn’t mind seeing him resigned to a new contract but the position still could be upgraded. 
Kevin Mawae: D
It’s been a tough season for the elder statesman. It was painful to watch him and you almost felt sorry for the guy because he just couldn’t get the job done like he used to. I wonder how much of his decline was due to the arm surgery which kept him out of action until the end of training camp.
Leroy Harris: C
The thing that impressed me the most about him was his spot start replacing Stewart in the 49ers game. Although Harris hadn’t played tackle since high school, line coach Mike Munchak was more comfortable with using him at an unfamiliar position than with using one of the backup tackles. Harris seemed to hold his own in that game and in his other start, when he replaced Amano against the Jets.
Overall grade for the offensive line: B-
Quarterbacks: Who could have foreseen the mid-season QB change and the resulting reversal of fortunes?
Vince Young: B
For whatever reason, when given the opportunity VY started playing better than he ever did before and I liked what I saw from the new Vince. Not only did his play improve, but he lit a spark the Titans desperately needed.
Kerry Collins: C
Although he wasn’t the reason the team started so terribly, he wasn’t the solution to correcting the problem either. Still, he had a decent year and I hope he’ll return as the backup this year.
Overall grade for the quarterbacks: B-
Running backs: At the beginning of the season, we thought the Titans would have a two-back system. How silly of us.
Chris Johnson: A+
A franchise record 2,006 rushing yards and a NFL record 2,509 yards from scrimmage constitute a pretty good season.
LenDale White: C-
See above for the reason why LenDale didn’t get more carries. It’s on LenDale that his yards per carry average dropped from 3.9 to 3.5, the lowest of his career.
Ahmard Hall: B-
This grade would be higher if he didn’t have fumbleitis. Mike Heimerdinger was wise to let Big Sarge do his thing as a blocker and limit his touches.
Overall grade for the running backs: A
Tight ends: We expected to see a changing of the guard this year, or at least seeing it started in motion. As it was, Jared Cook and Craig Stevens didn’t see enough playing time to earn a grade.
Alge Crumpler: B
He could’ve been included with the o-line, as he’s virtually an extension of it. I give Alge an A as a blocker and C as a receiver.
Bo Scaife: C
I don’t remember ever seeing a franchise player have less of an impact. Bo did contribute 47 catches, one for a touchdown.
Overall grade for the tight ends: B-
Receivers: For the first time in years a rookie wideout finally contributed. If not for him, the receiving corps would have been among the very worst in the league again.
Kenny Britt: B
The first-round draft pick began contributing in Week One, started six games and had two games with seven receptions. A pretty solid rookie campaign. I think the future is bright for Britt.
Nate Washington: D
The offseason free agent acquisition led the WRs in yards, scores and drops.
Justin Gage: D
If there’s one thing consistent about Gage, it’s his inconsistency.
Overall grade for the receivers: C-
So there they are, my grades for the offense in 2009. What do you think? Where was I too harsh or too lenient in my grading?
Next in the series will be my grades for the defense.

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4 Responses to “The Tennessee Titans’ 2009 report card: Offense”

  1. Shawn Smith Says:

    I have to disagree with some of these grades…

    I think Mawae and Harris deserve to be bumped up a grade…they didn’t do anything great but more than held their own. Plus, the offensive line overall should be at least a B+…you don’t have a 2000 yard runner and give up less than 1 sack per game without at least a good offensive line. What do they have to do to get an A?? Get 3000 yards rushing and less than 10 sacks??

    The QBs, RBs and TEs grades are fair…Kenny Britt deserves at least a B+. He led the WRs in yards (not Nate Washington) and made some big plays especially considering he was a rookie…I would give Justin Gage and Nate Washingon C’s…they both made plays and had horrible drops (especially Nate). They were average…if Nate didn’t have those drops then I would have upped him to a B.

  2. Will Says:

    Did Mawae really play that poorly? I’ll trust your judgment on that grade, but I think the O-line was outstanding. I do not think Collins had a decent year, but I do hope he’s with the team as a backup. LenDale White should get an incomplete. I agree with your statement about Scaife. He had decent numbers for a tight end but he is not among the league’s best. Perhaps it’s time to let him go and see what Jared Cook can do with more playing time.

  3. Andrew Strickert Says:

    Thanks for your comments and feedback, guys. Shawn, thanks also for the correction on receiving yards. I’m not sure how I had Nate ahead of Britt there.

    I had a feeling there would be some disagreement about my grades for the o-line. They were very good at pass protection and deserve credit for that. The fact that CJ had 2,000 rushing yards does not mean the Titans had a good run-blocking line.

    CJ earned most of those yards on his own, he didn’t get them because the line was opening gaping holes or blowing the defenders off the line of scrimmage. If you look at CJ’s yards, most of them came from yards after contact, running outside and running in the open field. What does that tell you about the line?

    Many times we saw CJ gain five yards when there was nothing there. Many times we saw CJ gain seven or eight when the average back would have gained two or three. And many times we saw him get stuffed. What do all of those things tell you about the line?

    These are things you can see on the field. It’s not a situation where CJ got 2,000 yards so therefore the line must have been great. If not for the pass-blocking, the line would be only average at best. CJ simply made the line look better than it really was.

    Will, in regards to Mawae, I believe it’s the end of the line (no pun intended) for him but the x factor is his arm injury which he suffered at the end of the 2008 season. Was his poor 2009 season due to not having a full offseason to recuperate? Can he play well again with a full offseason to recuperate? That’s something we can only speculate on but I’m sure Mawae, Munchak and the trainers have a better grasp of the situation.

    I think that’s probably something that deserves the time to devote a full article to.

  4. The Tennessee Titans’ 2009 report card: Special teams « Total Titans Says:

    […] I did in the report cards for the offense and defense, I’ll have a few comments along with the grades. This time, grades are given only […]

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