2014 NFL Season Preview- Tennessee Titans
The Titans were looking to improve on there 6-10 season in 2012. They drafted guard Chance Warmack to stabilize the offensive line and wide receiver Justin Hunter to stretch the field.
They developed a run first, play action based offense that favored the strengths of quarterback Jake Locker. At first the offense worked. The team started 3-1, before Locker injured his hip. He would return two weeks later only to be lost for the season with a foot injury. The running game struggled throughout out the year. Running backs Chris Johnson and Shon Greene average less than four yards per carry on the year. Off-field turmoil occurred when team owner Bud Adams passed away during the season.
With quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, the team changed the offense to a no-huddle shotgun offense using short throws to make plays due to Fitzpatrick's lack of arm strength. Under Fitzpatrick, the Titans were 3-6 and his turnovers cost the team a possible playoff spot.
Wide receiver Kendall Wright came into his own in the offense recording 94 catches for over 1,000 yards. Cornerback Alterraun Verner also had a breakout year intercepting five passes and making the Pro Bowl.
After the identity crisis of a season, the Titans front office fired head coach Mike Munchak after three seasons.
Titans 2013 Rankings
Opponent Passing yds
Opponent Rushing yds
NFL Rank- 21th
NFL Rank- 14th
NFL Rank- 11th
NFL Rank- 20th
NFL Rank- 22nd
NFL Rank- 14th
With the firing of head coach Mike Munchak, the Titans were looking for a coach that could produce a consistent offensive mindset. They turned their search to Ken Whisenhunt.
Whisenhunt had recently been the offensive coordinator for the San Diego Chargers. Prior to that, he was the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals for six seasons where he coached them to their first Super Bowl appearance. The team also brought in Ray Horton from Cleveland to be the defensive coordinator.
Notable additions- RB Dexter McCluster, T Michael Oher, LB Shaun Phillips
Notable departures- RB Chris Johnson, WR Kenny Britt, CB Alterraun Verner
Kendall Wright Highlights
2014 NFL Draft
Going into the draft, the Titans held the 11th overall pick and had a lot of questions to ask themselves. Jake Locker's health has been a concern since his rookie year and his ability has to be questioned moving forward. But the teams biggest holes were at defensive end and offensive tackle.
The team hasn't had a prominent pass rusher since Kyle Vanden Bosch. The team needs a defensive end that can keep the opposing quarterback in the pocket and force more sacks.
Another issue that raises concern is the strength of the tackles. Michael Roos hasn't played to his All-Pro the past few years and Michael Oher hasn't lived up to expectations since coming into the league. The team will look to add a tackle who can open up running lanes and protect the quarterback's blind side.
Tennessee chose Michigan tackle Taylor Lewan with the 11th pick in the draft. Lewan was seen as the best one-on-one tackle in the draft. The big issue people had with Lewan was his lack of focus which caused him to be one of the most penalized players in college football.
Other notable players the Titans drafted include Washington running back Bishop Sankey in the second round and LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger in the sixth round. Sankey probably had the best vision of any back in the draft, but also had one of the smallest frames in runners. Mettenberger was praised for his arm strength but also criticized for being immobile and character choices after a sexual battery arrest in 2010.
Bishop Sankey Highlights
What to Expect
The offensive line should be much improved from last season. Taylor Lewan has the ability to take the right tackle spot away from Michael Oher and will eventually succeed Michael Roos at left tackle. If Lewan does neat out Oher, I can see Oher moves inside to improve the teams run blocking.
Bishop Sankey will be the starting running back with Shon Greene coming in on third down and Dexter McCluster being used as a receiver out of the backfield. Expect Justin Hunter to emerge as the top receiver, Nate Washington to take the second spot, and Kendall Wright as slot receiver who is the target on third-down.
If Jake Locker goes down, Zach Mettenberger is the most likely backup. Charlie Whitehurst has proven nothing as a backup and Tyler Wilson, a fourth round pick last year, got beat out of a roster spot in Oakland by an undated Matt McGloin. So Mettenberger has the most potential to perform if Locker is injured.
The defense will be about the same as last year. Ray Horton will bring out the best in the players he has on defense. The linebackers corps raise more questions than answer so it will be hard to see what they have to offer this season.
Tennessee is going to go through some growing pains. It will take a year or two for Tennessee to be competitive in a division that is on the rise.
Best record they can hope for- 8-8