2009 Tennessee Titans Season Preview
2009 Tennessee Titans preview from MadduxSports.com. The AFC South is once again loaded and week by week anyone can knock off anybody in this division. Having an expert NFL pick handicapper will help you maximize your sports betting profits this season.
2009 Tennessee Titans Predictions
By Adam Barone
The Titans were a big surprise in 2008, going 13-3. They didn’t win a game in the playoffs though, and lost the league’s best defensive player, defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth, to free agency. Haynesworth ended up being far too expensive though, and got a predictably ridiculous contract from Dan Snyder and the ‘Skins. Kerry Collins got a new two-year, $15 million contract, and will be the quarterback to start the season, with Vince Young officially relegated to backup duties.
Collins’ best qualities are his experience and leadership ability, while his numbers really aren’t much more than “solid.” He just missed throwing for 2,700 yards last season, and found the end zone only 12 times. He did throw just seven picks though, which looks great compared to Vince Young’s ’07 and ’08 touchdown to interception ratios of 12:13 and 9:17. It was obvious that Young was not the first choice of head coach Jeff Fisher when he was drafted, and simply doesn’t fit into Fisher’s style. He has little chance to be the starter for the Titans ever again. Patrick Ramsey, a dependable career backup, is also in the mix and may take the second-string job from Young.
The running backs, as usual, are the strength of the Titans’ attack. Chris Johnson’s rookie campaign was surprisingly successful, as he rushed for 1,228 yards and nine scores. He’ll be the featured back in the coming season, with LenDale White settling into the complimentary role. White scored 15 touchdowns in 2008, weighing in at a truck stop at an undisclosed total. This offseason he was listed at 238 lbs., a measurement which was taken by a jolly fat man in a red suit and then announced by flying swine.
Rookie back Javon Ringer out of Michigan State will make it tough for former second-round pick Chris Henry to keep his job.
The stable of running backs and tight end Bo Scaife made up the primary list of pass targets in 2008. Scaife caught 58 passes to lead the team, while Chris Johnson caught 43. The unit took a step up in the offseason though, as former Steeler Nate Washington was signed to a six-year deal, and former Rutgers stand-out Kenny Britt was drafted in the first round. Justin Gage is the leading returning wide out. He had 34 catches.
Fisher’s plan has always involved a dominant, physical offensive line. This season will be no different. Center Kevin Mawae, arguably the league’s best, leads the group, with tackles Michael Roos and David Stewart on the outside. All five starters are back from last season, a campaign that saw both Mawae and Roos make a trip to Hawaii.
Haynesworth is gone, and will be replaced by committee, presumably until someone steps up and forces that to change. Jason Jones, Tony Brown, free agent addition Jovan Haye, and rookie Sen’Derrick Marks will all take turns filling in at tackle. Jevon Kearse is still around, and he’ll be joined by Jacob Ford and Kyle Vanden Bosch, who missed time last season with a groin injury. The unit will need to work hard to match their total of 44 sacks (fifth in the league) from a season ago.
The linebackers are led by Keith Bullock. Enough said. He’s 32 years old and didn’t intercept a pass in ’08 for the first time in his career, but he’s still a force to be reckoned with on the outside. Stephen Tulloch (84 tackles) and David Thornton (78, two forced fumbles) man the other two spots, with little depth at the position.
The case could be made that the Titans’ secondary was significantly elevated by the superb play of the front line in 2008, but nonetheless, it’s a quality group. Cortland Finnegan established himself as one of the league’s better cornerbacks. Safety Michael Griffin had seven interceptions. Both went to the Pro Bowl. Cornerback Nick Harper and safety Chris Hope are both expected to keep their starting jobs, with Vincent Fuller returning to play the nickel.
Kicker Rob Bironas, NFL’s highest paid kicker, made 29 of 33 attempts in 2008. Both the kickoff and punt return jobs are open for competition.
The loss of Haynesworth is certainly substantial, but no player is worth $100 million dollars over any length of time. The Titans’ coaching staff is one of the best in the league, especially on defense, and should have little trouble making up for his absence. Don’t expect this team to have any trouble replicating their tough, physical, successful play of the past.