2009 Tennessee Titans: Biggest disappointments

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In part I of this two-article series, I took a look at the Tennessee Titans’ surprise performers of 2009. The comeback kid a.k.a Vince Young and rookies such as Kenny Britt and Gerald McRath headlined the list of guys who came out of the blue to emerge as viable contributors last season.

As promised, today’s post will focus upon the players who, in my opinion, earned the dubious distinction as the team’s biggest disappointments due to their less than stellar performances in ’09.

Anyone in the starting secondary not named Cortland Finnegan

Outside of Finny, the remainder of the Titans’ starting defensive backfield struggled mightily in 2009.

After a stellar season in 2008, S Michael Griffin digressed in ’09 as he constantly bit on play-fakes while putting himself out of position as opposing wide receivers made big plays time and time again. Fellow safety Chris Hope was also guilty of being suckered by numerous play-fakes while also suffering from his share of struggles last year.

Last and probably least is the plight of starting CB Nick Harper, who, despite being lauded by Coach Fisher for his tackling skills, was often the weakest link as opposing signal-callers constantly threw in his direction.

Needless to say, I think all of us expected more from a DB unit that sent three of its four players to the Pro Bowl in 2008. Therefore, their overall poor performance as a group has to be considered one of the Titans’ biggest disappointments in 2009.

KVB and The Freak: Happy trails?

The Tennessee Titans received less than stellar production from two guys who have constantly produced during their careers.

Defensive ends Kyle Vanden Bosch and Jevon Kearse, who have combined to notch 116.5 sacks over the course of their storied careers, only produced a measly total of 4 QB takedowns in 2009. While KVB was able to play in all 16 games, Kearse’s season ended prematurely due to injuries and frustration that led to him being deactivated on many occasions throughout the year.

With younger more athletic talents such as Jacob Ford and William Hayes behind them, the days of KVB and The Freak chasing after opposing signal-callers may be coming to an end in the city of Nashville.

From game-manager to the bench: The Kerry Collins story

Praised for his stellar play during the Titans’ immensely successful 2008 performance, Kerry Collins took a step back to say the least in 2009.

Serving as the team’s starting QB during their 0-6 start, KC accumulated a putrid rating of 65.5 while tossing more interceptions (8) than touchdowns (6). His shoddy play eventually led to his benching and the re-emergence of Vince Young, who quarterbacked the team to an 8-2 finish.

Due to the team’s myriad of struggles at the onset of the year, it’s probably not fair to allow Kerry Collins alone to shoulder all of the blame for the 0-6 start. However, I think it’s more than fair to say that KC’s struggles played a key role in the team’s disastrous beginning to the ’09 season.

The Invisible rookie a.k.a Jared Cook

The only reason why I’ve included Cook on this list is due to the training camp/preseason hype machine that surrounded the Titans’ rookie TE.

Due to his scary athletic ability that was constantly on display at practices, the expectations were higher than normal for this rookie third round draft selection. Unfortunately, Cook was unable to turn potential into production in his debut, coming up with only 9 grabs for 74 yards and not a single touchdown.

While it’s still more than enough time for Cook to become a fixture in the Tennessee Titan passing game for years to come, I was expecting a little more than nine catches during his rookie debut.

Nate the un-great

I’ll admit it: I was expecting big things from free agent signee Nate Washington in 2009. On paper, Nate provided the team with a dimension it’s been missing: a guy who could stretch the field due to his blazing speed.

While Nate’s speed was as good as advertised, the impact of this attribute was often nullified due to his numerous dropped passes. It’s great if a guy can create separation and beat opposing cornerbacks but it’s wasted if the receiver is unable to hold onto the football.

Hopefully, Nate’s case of the dropsies will disappear moving forward.

Well guys, that concludes my list of the team’s biggest disappointments of 2009. Agree or disagree with my selections? Feel free to provide your opinions in the comments section below.

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6 Responses to “2009 Tennessee Titans: Biggest disappointments”

  1. Bob Loblaw Says:

    Can’t say I’m terribly disappointed with Kearse or Harper because, in the words of Dennis Green “they were who we thought they were”. I can say the same for Washington, though I know some people expected a great deal from him.

    For me, biggest disappointment would be Griffin. I just can’t understand what on earth happened to him. It appears to be more mental than physical with him, but you never know what types of injuries these guys are playing with (Cromartie plays a whole season with a broken hip).

    Jared Cook is my runner up. Every day throughout training camp, players, coaches and beat writers rave about this guy. He leads the NFL in preseason receptions, then falls off a cliff. Again, the injury may have been more of a factor than we know, but the CF the Titans had at TE this year is similar to the one they had at DT. Which brings me to Jovan Haye – where was he all year?

    Biggest disappointment wasn’t a player, it was Fisherfeldt’s boneheaded personnel/draft/roster/coaching moves. No compensation for Albert was dumb. Franchising Scaife and then simultaneously trading this year’s 2 to get Cook, then not trading Scaife when they had offers was dumb. Signing Haye for four years, then drafting Marks in the second round – dumb. Losing a late compensatory this year by signing Demarcus Faggins – dumb. Not finding a way to keep Chris Carr – dumb. Not having the right equipment in New England – dumb…

  2. Andrew Strickert Says:

    Amen, Bob. I’m with you on all of the above except for Cook and that’s just because I wasn’t on the Cook bandwagon to begin with. Since I didn’t have high expectations for him, I wasn’t disappointed.

    Jovan Haye, as Bob mentioned, would have been on my list. Wait til you see the grade I gave him on my defensive grades for the year. It’s not pretty. I didn’t expect him to play as poorly as he did.

    Also on my list of disappointments would have been David Thornton. He played well against the Colts again in 2009 but that was about it. I didn’t expect him to play great this year but thought he’d do at least a little better.

  3. Will Says:

    Totally agree on your assessment of the secondary. I don’t think the Titans need to draft or acquire new safeties; Hope and Griffin need to be more disciplined. Even Vincent Fuller and waiver-wire sensation Rod Hood missed his share of tackles.

  4. wesc Says:

    I wonder how much of the secondary drop off was due to the promotion of the secondary coach to defensive coordinator. When things go that wrong, that quickly, someone somehwere is mesing up. If the secondary coach takes a college job this offseason I would not be shocked.

    Really, though, can there be any doubt it was special teams? Injuries, no chris carr, fumbles, bad field position both directions, missed field goals. Good special teams play = titans in the playoffs despite all the other problems.

  5. Scott Says:

    All great points. To my mind, the biggest disappointments this season extended well beyond any individual player, and they were the defence and the kick/punt return units. For those blunders, like Bob above, I have to blame Fisher (and maybe Reinfeld, Cecil and Lowery too, but mostly Fisher). This is Fisher’s team after all, and he is the one being paid substantial amounts of money to field this team and make it competitive. It was his coaching and personnel decisions that hurt this team the most this year, and for a guy that it seemed could do almost nothing wrong in 2008, the 2009 season proved to be disasterous. From the moment they let Albert go, to the free agents they signed, to the sub-par drafting decisions (with the exception of Britt), to the reliance on rookies and untested returners, to the unwillingness to make obvious changes on the field (i.e waiting 6 games to pull Collins, playing Harper over Hood, etc.), Fisher just seemed to consistently make the wrong decision last year. I am willing to give him a mulligan, but here’s hoping he doesn’t have a repeat performance this coming year.

  6. Drexel Perry Says:

    As usual, great points by all of you.

    The team’s personel decisions certainly played a key role in last year’s disappointing performance. Of course, this article just focused upon the players who didn’t step up but there is no question that the front office had a disappointing season (to say the least) as well.

    As always, thanks for commenting guys.

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