HC Mike Munchak, OC Chris Palmer, DC Jerry Gray, QB Matt Hasselbeck, TE Daniel Graham, DT Shaun Smith, ILB Barrett Ruud, CB Frank Walker, S Jordan Babineaux.
Early Draft Picks:
QB Jake Locker, OLB Akeem Ayers, DT Jurrell Casey, LB Colin McCarthy, RB Jamie Harper, DE Karl Klug.
HC Jeff Fisher, OC Mike Heimerdinger, DC Chuck Cecil, QB Vince Young, QB Kerry Collins, WR Randy Moss, TE Bo Scaife, DE Jason Babin, DT Tony Brown, OLB David Thornton, ILB Stephen Tulloch.
2011 Tennessee Titans Offense:
Titans fans have to be happy. The immaturity, the inconsistency, the inaccuracy, the far-off looks during post-game press conferences, the coaching feuds. They're all gone. Tennessee has finally jettisoned Vince Young and is ready to move on with a new potential franchise quarterback in Jake Locker - but not until the raw signal-caller is ready to step in under center.
Matt Hasselbeck was signed to a 3-year, $21 million deal to babysit Locker. Hasselbeck has endured back problems over the past several years and has consequently struggled for most of the time. However, he came alive during Seattle's improbable playoff run, throwing seven touchdowns to just one interception against the Saints and Bears. If Hasselbeck is healthy, he can still perform on a pretty high level. The knock on him remains the same though; he's very injury-prone and unreliable.
It'll be interesting to see if Hasselbeck can stay off the injury reports because unlike his tenure in Seattle, he actually has several talented weapons to work with - primarily Chris Johnson. Johnson had an "off" year, rushing for "only" 1,364 yards and 11 touchdowns. The difference was his YPC average, which fell from 5.6 in 2009 to 4.3 in 2010. Johnson will rebound, as defenses will have to respect Hasselbeck's throwing ability.
Hasselbeck's other skilled weapons are Kenny Britt and Jared Cook. Britt had 775 yards and nine touchdowns in just 12 games last year, including an eye-popping 225-yard, three-score performance against the Eagles in Week 7. What's impressive is that Britt did this with Young and Kerry Collins. Britt is only 22, so the sky is the limit for him - assuming he can stay out of trouble. That's the only concern with the 2009 first-round pick; he was arrested a handful of times this offseason, but could avoid suspension because of the lockout.
Cook, meanwhile, was a decent weapon for Collins down the stretch, hauling in 15 receptions for 196 yards and a touchdown in the team's final three games. He's an athletic tight end who should be able to take the next step with a legitimate quarterback in 2011.
The offensive line is an area that really needs to improve this year. Left tackle Michael Roos, who has often played on a high level throughout his career, surrendered nine sacks in 2010. He suffered a knee injury several weeks prior to the start of the season, so perhaps that was the culprit. Right tackle David Stewart was almost as bad, getting flagged for eight penalties to go along with his four sacks. His hamstring bothered him throughout the year.
While Roos and Stewart figure to improve because they are talented and currently healthy, the interior of Tennessee's front is a much greater concern. The triumvirate of Leroy Harris, Eugene Amano and Jake Scott were equally dreadful last season, yet the Titans failed to find a single upgrade. Continuity is good for this shortened offseason, however, so that's a plus.
2011 Tennessee Titans Defense:
In the past two offseasons, the Titans have lost All-Pro defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth, double-digit sack artist Jason Babin, stud inside linebacker Stephen Tulloch, reliable end Kyle Vanden Bosch, and legendary defensive line coach Jim Washburn. It's safe to say Tennessee will have one of the worst stop units in the NFL this year.
The Titans' new defensive line coach doesn't have anything proven to work with aside from Jason Jones. Unfortunately, there's a catch with Jones; the former Eastern Michigan lineman managed four sacks and frequently collapsed the pocket from the defensive tackle position last year, but he'll have to play defensive end in Tennessee's new scheme. Jones is talented enough to make the switch, but how effective will he be, especially considering that the lockout prevented him from working with the new coaching staff?
Jones' replacements at defensive tackle figure to be mediocre run-stuffing nose tackle Shaun Smith and third-round rookie Jurrell Casey. Across from Jones will be Derrick Morgan, selected No. 16 overall in the 2010 NFL Draft. Morgan looked good last year before tearing his ACL in October, so it's unclear whether he'll be 100 percent. The Titans will definitely miss Babin's 12.5 sacks.
Losing Tulloch was also unfortunate. His replacement will be Tampa Bay Buccaneers reject Barrett Ruud. Ruud used to be a very effective player, but he's coming off a miserable 2010 campaign in which he was constantly engulfed against the run.
Tulloch will play next to Akeem Ayers and Will Witherspoon. While Witherspoon is past his prime and struggled at times in 2010, Ayers is a really promising defender. A second-round rookie, Ayers has thrived in training camp, though it's unclear how he'll perform during real action.
The best player in Tennessee's back seven is cornerback Cortland Finnegan, who became famous for instigating a fight with Houston's Andre Johnson. Finnegan is a fierce tackler, though he struggled in coverage in 2010, allowing a 66.7 completion percentage and five touchdown passes. He'll have to improve with Babin and Tulloch gone. It'll help that he'll be playing for a new contract.
The rest of the secondary is comprised of second-year corner Alterraun Verner, who had an impressive rookie campaign; solid free safety Michael Griffin; and strong safety Chris Hope, who missed what seemed like dozens of tackles last year.
2011 Tennessee Titans Schedule and Intangibles:
Jeff Fisher is gone, and the Titans have a brand-new coaching staff. This is extremely problematic because of the lockout and subsequent brief offseason. Even Michael Griffin admitted as much; he told the media that no team was affected more by the lockout than Tennessee. He's right.
Rob Bironas became a rich man three offseasons ago, and he definitely deserved it. Last year, Bironas drilled 24-of-26 attempts, including 8-of-8 from 40-49 and 2-of-3 from 50-plus. He's a stud.
Brett Kern had a pretty average 2010 campaign; he maintained a 42.9 punting average and placed 24-of-77 boots inside the 20.
Rookie Marc Mariani is one of the top return specialists in the NFL. He averaged 25.5 yards per kickoff and 12.2 yards per punt return, scoring twice. Unfortunately, the Titans struggled to defend kickoffs, allowing a touchdown themselves.
Tennessee has a last-place schedule and could easily begin the year 3-1, as it plays Jacksonville, Denver and Cleveland in Weeks 1, 3 and 4. Other winnable games include Cincinnati, Carolina, Buffalo and Jacksonville twice.
2011 Tennessee Titans Analysis: The Titans finally have some stability at the quarterback position. Unfortunately, almost everything else is in chaos, from the roster changes, to the new coaching staff, to the contract demands of Chris Johnson and Cortland Finnegan.
Tennessee won't finish with one of the worst records in the NFL because of its easy schedule. However, the team will really struggle to stop most NFL offenses.
Tennessee's checklist entering the 2011 NFL Draft looked like this: 1) Find a franchise quarterback. 2) Upgrade a poor defense. 3) Improve an abysmal interior offensive line. Well, the Titans can check off the first two items on that list.
Was Jake Locker a reach at No. 8? Absolutely. But the Titans' hands were tied. They had to choose either Locker or Blaine Gabbert, so they went with the guy they were more comfortable with despite his glaring flaws.
I liked Tennessee's Round 2-4 selections, but I was disappointed that the front office failed to upgrade the guard and center positions. Chris Johnson's YPC average dropped because of poor blocking, so that definitely won't improve.
Overall 2011 NFL Draft Grade given on 5/1/11: B-
2011 NFL Draft Individual Grades:
8. Jake Locker, QB
Wow. So maybe Jake Locker wasn't so stupid for going back to Washington after all.
This is a pretty questionable pick. Locker's accuracy is abysmal and his football IQ is pretty low. His mechanics also need work. He's a project. However, the Titans are desperate. They need a quarterback, so they don't really have a choice. (Pick Grade: C)
39. Akeem Ayers, OLB, UCLA
Akeem Ayers could have been a first-round pick, so the Titans are getting some value at this spot while filling a need. Some seem to think his best position is 3-4 rush linebacker, but he can definitely function in a 4-3. (Pick Grade: B)
77. Jurrell Casey, DT, USC
Once upon a time, Jurrell Casey was considered a possible first-round prospect. Casey was projected to be a Round 2-3 defensive tackle, so the Titans are filling a need in the interior of their defensive line with quality value. (Pick Grade: B)
109. Colin McCarthy, ILB, Miami
The Titans had two huge holes at linebacker entering the 2011 NFL Draft, so this pick makes a ton of sense. This is the right range for Colin McCarthy, whom I had going to Pittsburgh at the bottom of Round 3. (Pick Grade: B)
130. Jamie Harper, RB, Clemson
I don't like this pick at all. Jamie Harper is a reach at the end of Round 4 and doesn't fill a need whatsoever. I just don't see how Harper improves this team. (Pick Grade: F)
142. Karl Klug, DE, Iowa
I think this is a reach, but it fills a need. The Titans really had to find some help at defensive end with Jason Babin to set to leave via free agency. (Pick Grade: C)
175. Byron Stingily, OT/G, Louisville
The Titans waited longer than I thought they would to address the offensive line. This is the right range for Byron Stingily. (Pick Grade: B)
212. Zach Clayton, DT, Auburn
Tennessee really needed help at defensive tackle, so seeing them double dip at the position is no surprise. Zach Clayton fits the range at No. 212. (Pick Grade: B)
251. Tommie Campbell, S, California-PA
Tommie Campbell is talented, but has character issues. He's a transfer from Pitt. Safety is a need, so Campbell could eventually earn a starting job. (Pick Grade: B)
Bud Adams had a choice to make: Jeff Fisher or Vince Young. Adams chose himself. The senile owner fired Fisher and got rid of Young, so the Titans have officially entered into rebuilding mode.
Titans sign S Anthony Smith
Titans sign G Pat McQuistan
Bengals sign TE Bo Scaife
Titans sign S Jordan Babineaux
Titans sign CB Frank Walker
Titans re-sign FB Ahmard Hall
Titans re-sign DE Dave Ball
Titans announce retirement of WR Randy Moss
Titans re-sign DE Jacob Ford
Titans sign TE Daniel Graham
Lions sign ILB Stephen Tulloch
Titans sign ILB Barrett Ruud
Titans re-sign G Leroy Harris
Titans announce retirement of OLB David Thornton
Titans sign DT Shaun Smith
Eagles sign QB Vince Young
Titans cut DT Tony Brown
Eagles sign DE Jason Babin
Titans sign QB Matt Hasselbeck
Titans cut QB Vince Young
Titans announce retirement of QB Kerry Collins
Titans re-sign P Brett Kern
Titans hire DC Jerry Gray
Titans hire HC Mike Munchak
Titans fire OC Mike Heimerdinger
Titans fire HC Jeff Fisher
Quarterback: What are the Titans going to do at quarterback? Will they sign a veteran like Donovan McNabb, trade for a Kyle Orton or draft Blaine Gabbert at No. 8? Tennessee has a ton of options, but none of them seem very lucrative. Signed Matt Hasselbeck; drafted Jake Locker
Left Guard: Leroy Harris is a free agent, but that doesn't matter because he was abysmal last year. If the Titans want to create running lanes for Chris Johnson, they'll find an upgrade in Day 2 of the 2011 NFL Draft. Drafted Byron Stingily; signed Pat McQuistan
Inside Linebacker: It doesn't look like Stephen Tulloch will be back. Assuming he leaves, the Titans will be desperate for a new inside linebacker. This is another position that will be looked at during the Friday of the draft. Signed Barrett Ruud; drafted Colin McCarthy
Center: Another offensive line position Tennessee needs to address. Eugene Amano was just as bad as Leroy Harris.
Defensive End: Will the Titans give Jason Babin a big contract after his 12.5-sack season? If they do, they better hope he's not a one-year wonder. If they don't, they'll need a new defensive end across from Derrick Morgan. Ryan Kerrigan, Aldon Smith and J.J. Watt could be options at No. 8 overall. Re-signed Jacob Ford and Dave Ball; drafted Karl Klug
Weakside Linebacker: Will Witherspoon wasn't very good in his first season with the Titans. Another upgrade in the linebacking corps is needed. Drafted Akeem Ayers (SLB)
Strong Safety: Chris Hope is owed $6.5 million in 2011 - which is quite a coincidence seeing as how he missed 6.5 million tackles last season. Signed Jordan Babineaux
Defensive Tackle: Tennessee needs a big defensive tackle to help stop the run. Signing or trading for Albert Haynesworth could be an option. Signed Shaun Smith; drafted Jurrell Casey
2011 NFL Free Agent Signings:
Matt Hasselbeck, QB, Seahawks. Age: 35. Signed with Titans (3 years, $21 million)
Matt Hasselbeck looked like he belonged in a glue factory at many points during the year, but played really well in the postseason. He was ultimately betrayed by close to a dozen drops by his receiving corps in Chicago, but he proved that he can still get it done if he has the support around him.
Shaun Smith, DE/DT, Chiefs. Age: 30. Signed with Titans
Shaun Smith turns 30 in August, but he's still a strong two-down, run-stuffing defensive end in the 3-4.
Barrett Ruud, ILB, Buccaneers. Age: 28. Signed with Titans (1 year)
I'm not sure what happened to Barrett Ruud, because he had an awful 2010 campaign after a couple of phenomenal seasons as Tampa Bay's middle linebacker. Ruud might be able to bounce back elsewhere - or he could be done.
Jordan "Big Drop Babs" Babineaux, S, Seahawks. Age: 29. -- Signed with Titans (1 year)
Daniel Graham, TE, Broncos. Age: 32. -- Signed with Titans (3 years)
Pat McQuistan, G, Dolphins. Age: 28. -- Signed with Titans
Frank Walker, CB, Vikings. Age: 28. -- Signed with Titans
Anthony Smith, S, Packers. Age: 27. -- Signed with Titans
Tennessee Titans Free Agents:
Salary Cap: No cap.
Stephen Tulloch, ILB, Titans. Age: 26. Signed with Lions (1 year, $3.25 million)
Stephen Tulloch is a stud. At only 26 years old, he's one of the top 4-3 middle linebackers in the NFL. He's going to receive a huge contract this offseason.
Jason Babin, DE, Titans. Age: 31. Signed with Eagles (5 years, $28 million; $5-6 million guaranteed)
Jason Babin recorded 12.5 sacks in 2010. However, his previous high was five sacks back in 2006. Is he just a one-hit wonder?
Brett Kern (RFA), P, Titans. Age: 25. Re-signed with Titans (4 years, $5.2 million)
Brett Kern averaged 42.9 yards per punt with about a third of his kicks inside the 20.
Vince Young, QB, Titans. Age: 28. Signed with Eagles (1 year)
Vince Young is stupid and immature. That's what it comes down to. Young has immense talent and wins games against crappy teams, but he'll never lead a team deep into the playoffs until he improves the mental aspect of his game and takes football more seriously. I don't see that happening anytime soon.
Kerry Collins, QB, Titans. Age: 38. Announced retirement
Kerry Collins plays drunk sometimes, but his 28-of-39, 300-yard, two-touchdown, no-interception performance at Indianapolis in the season finale indicates that he can still be a solid backup in this league.
Dave Ball, DE, Titans. Age: 30. Signed with Titans
A situational pass-rusher, Dave Ball had seven sacks this season.
Randy Moss, WR, Titans. Age: 34. Announced retirement
Randy Moss is done. Unlike Terrell Owens, he has not worked unbelievably hard to keep his body in shape. There's no reason any NFL team should be interested.
Jacob Ford (RFA), DE, Titans. Age: 28. -- Re-signed with Titans (1 year)
Divisional Rival History: Houston Texans: There are no historical trends here, but these matchups will be very entertaining to watch going forward because of the Andre Johnson-Cortland Finnegan rivalry. Indianapolis Colts: The Colts own the Titans again, having won the past five matchups. Jacksonville Jaguars: If you watched old and improved NFL Primetime you might remember that Chris Berman always said, "The Titans know all and tell all at Alltel Stadium." That's definitely true; Tennessee has won six of the previous nine in this heated rivalry.
Features to be Posted This Offseason:
2011 NFL Draft Grades (Pick-by-Pick NFL Draft Grades as well - Live on Draft Day!)