TENNESSEE TITANS / 2013 TEAM NEEDS
New coordinator Dowell Loggains has a potentially explosive group, with RB Chris Johnson and WRs Kendall Wright and Kenny Britt all offering big-play potential. However, the triggerman, QB Jake Locker, regressed badly in the second half. Loggains must get Locker outside the pocket, where he is most dangerous, but his accuracy and ability to read defenses need refining.
TOP 3 OFFENSIVE NEEDS
OL — For years they have gotten by with mid- to late-round picks along the offensive line because Mike Munchak did such a good job coaching them up. That hasn’t gotten it done lately, though. Tennessee could use upgrades at both guard spots, where Leroy Harris and Steve Hutchinson were subpar. Michael Roos and Dave Stewart are strong bookends, but Stewart’s play fell off and he is coming off a broken leg.
WR — Another offseason, another report of No. 1 WR Kenny Britt getting into trouble. Entering the final year of his deal, Britt’s lack of dependability makes it hard to envision him staying in Nashville. Kendall Wright has a bright future, but Nate Washington and Damian Williams aren’t game changers. Britt can be, but the Titans must prepare a contingency plan.
RB — Chris Johnson rebounded from a slow start to put together a solid campaign. However, his backups, Javon Ringer and Jamie Harper, are constantly nicked up, and the offense could benefit from a reliable change-of-pace back to keep defenses honest and their best player fresh.
Jerry Gray survived despite his unit’s horrendous play (franchise-worst 471 points allowed), perhaps because his more aggressive play-calling near season’s end yielded better results. The arrows of DE Derrick Morgan, LB Zach Brown and CB Alterraun Verner are pointed up, but this “D” won’t improve until it becomes much more disciplined, develops leadership.
TOP 3 DEFENSIVE NEEDS
DE — Morgan finally put it all together in the second half, providing the Titans with some relief that one of their end positions is stabilized. Their biggest offseason signing, Kamerion Wimbley, was somewhat of a flop, however, running too hot and cold. The Titans’ pass rush can still improve with a young difference-maker thrown into the mix.
MLB — Colin McCarthy entered 2012 with his arrow pointing straight up. He’ll enter 2013 a question mark, after missing nine games because of injuries. McCarthy is a dynamic player, but his first two seasons have been marred by various ailments. If the Titans are going to continue counting on him, they need better insurance.
SS — Arguably no position was mismanaged worse last season. Jordan Babineaux was benched multiple times, prompting the Titans to sign veteran free agent George Wilson this offseason. But Wilson is on the wrong side of 30 and, with the erratic Michael Griffin entrenched after receiving a puzzling contract extension last offseason, the Titans need to look down the road for Wilson’s eventual replacement, as Griffin is at his best with stability around him.
2012 DRAFT REWIND
1st round (20): WR Kendall Wright / Baylor (GP/GS: 15/5)
2nd round (52) WLB Zach Brown / North Carolina (GP/GS: 16/14)
3rd round (82) DT Mike Martin / Michigan (GP/GS: 16/1)
4th round (115) CB Coty Sensebaugh / Clemson (GP/GS: 16/3)
5th round (145) TE Taylor Thompson / SMU (GP/GS: 16/4)
6th round (190) FS Markelle Martin / Oklahoma State (GP/GS: 0/0)
7th round (211) DE Scott Solomon / Rice (GP/GS: 13/0)
SUMMARY: Top three picks from athletic class well on their way to becoming key cogs in Tennessee’s young nucleus.