Originally posted on The Football Fan Spot  |  Last updated 1/9/13
After going 9-7 with one of the NFL’s youngest rosters in 2011 (26th in average age heading into the season), the Titans had a lot of hope for this season. Jake Locker was supposed to be an upgrade over veteran game manager Matt Hasselbeck at quarterback. Receiver Kenny Britt was finally supposedly healthy and Chris Johnson couldn’t possibly be worse than he was in 2011. Meanwhile, their young defense which ranked 8th in opponents’ scoring in 2011 looked like it once again could be a top-10 unit. What happened? The Titans weren’t just bad. They were awful, even worse than their 6-10 record suggested, which is rare for a team with as few wins as they had. They ranked 30th in the NFL in DVOA and only the Jaguars and Chiefs had a worse points differential than they did. They had just two wins by more than 4 points and 6 losses by more than 21. Their defense was the biggest problem as they really showed their youth, going from 8th in opponents’ scoring to dead last, but they weren’t the only ones to blame. Jake Locker really struggled in his first season as a starter, due probably in large part to two separated shoulder injuries. Even ancient backup Matt Hasselbeck outplayed him, as the strongest part of their season came when he was under center. They have the potential to get better next season because of their age, but they really need to play better. If they play like they did this season again, they’ll probably be much closer to 2-14 than 6-10. Safety Michael Griffin is owed 4.5 million in 2012, but it’ll only be guaranteed if he’s on the roster 5 days after the Super Bowl, so the Titans have a window of time to cut him. They should consider doing so. They gave the up and down former 1st round pick safety a big long term deal this offseason and he responded by having arguably his worst season as a pro, routinely missing tackles and coverages, grading out as ProFootballFocus’ 86th rated safety out of 88. His 22 missed tackles led the NFL. Even if he’s given a 2nd chance, safety is still a need. Other starter Jordan Babineaux was better by default, but not much. He was ProFootballFocus’ 76th rated safety. There’s a reason why the Titans ranked 24th against the pass and dead last in points per game allowed. He doesn’t have as much bounce back potential as Griffin and the veteran journeyman was benched twice this past season, so he could easily not return as a starter next year. At the very least, they need competition at the position, but at least one starting caliber safety should be brought in. Middle Linebacker 2011 4th round pick Colin McCarthy had a decent second half to his rookie year after becoming the starter and had a lot of promise coming into this year, but various injuries derailed him, costing him all but 7 games. When he did play, he was awful. Despite his limited playing time, he still ended up with the 5th lowest rating on ProFootballFocus among eligible middle linebackers. The Titans could easily opt to replace him this offseason. Manti Te’o will be an option at 10th overall. Cornerback Their safeties weren’t solely responsible for their terrible pass defense, though more blame falls on them than the cornerbacks. Starters Jason McCourty and Alterraun Verner both played well, but they really missed Cortland Finnegan. With Finnegan, this was a position of major depth, but without him, they had nothing good behind the starters. Verner is a free agent next offseason anyway. DeMarcus Milliner is another option at 10th overall. Guard Chris Johnson’s blocking wasn’t as bad this year as it had been in the past, but guard is still a need. They really struggled for consistency at right guard, playing several different players there, while left guard Steve Hutchinson struggled in his age 35 season. Owed 5.25 million next season and not getting any younger, the Titans might not bring him back, in which case they’d need at least one, if not two new starters at guard. Defensive End Like at cornerback, the starters actually played pretty well here. Free agent acquisition Kamerion Wimbley panned out, while former 1st round pick bust Derrick Morgan had a very strong season in his 3rd year in the league, his first without injury issues. However, like cornerback, they really lack depth. Morgan and Wimbley played a ton of snaps, while top reserves Scott Solomon and Jarius Wynn were terrible in the limited action they got. Running Back Will Chris Johnson be back? I think they should consider parting ways with him. Overall, his production wasn’t bad this year, but he was just so inconsistent and reliant on his blocking. He had 1243 rushing yards, but had 56 or fewer in half of his starts. Turning 28 in 2013, he’s not getting any younger and running backs have a short shelf life. He’ll probably be brought back because of his star value, but he’s not worth the 10 million he’s owed in 2013. They at least need some competition for him and a better compliment. Javon Ringer is a free agent and he never managed to see any significant playing time, even when Johnson was struggling. Center Center wasn’t an issue for the Titans in 2012 as they finally seem to have found a successor for long time center Kevin Mawae in Fernando Velasco, who graded out 11th overall at his position on ProFootballFocus. However, he’s a free agent this offseason and if he’s not retained, they’ll have a need at the position. Tight End Jared Cook is also a free agent. He’s so athletic, but has never really lived up to the athleticism, with the exception of a few stretches of dominance. It’ll be interesting to see what kind of market he’s greeted with this off-season. I feel like he could be a dominant receiving tight end if he ended up in the right offense with a good quarterback, but that’s no sure thing. The Titans should still try to re-sign and they’ll need to replace him if they don’t. Quarterback It’s obviously too soon to give up on Jake Locker. He was terrible this year, but he was the 8th overall pick in 2011 and he hasn’t even made a full season’s worth of starts yet. He also suffered several shoulder injuries last year and never was really fully healthy all year, which might be to blame for his struggles. However, they definitely need some competition for him and a strong veteran backup. They had one last year in Matt Hasselbeck, but it’s unclear if he’ll be back at his currently scheduled 5.5 million dollar salary in 2013, his age 38 season. If he’s not, they’ll need to replace him. Fullback Quinn Johnson struggled as their lead blocker this season. He’s a free agent anyway. Kicker Rob Bironas is also a free agent this off-season. The long time vet is still kicking at a high level and should be retained if possible. Kick Returner Darius Reynaud was the Titans’ primary kick returner this season and he was very good at it. The problem is he’s a free agent this off-season. Punt Returner You can copy and paste what’s above. Reynaud also returned punts at a high level this season.
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Winners and losers from 'Monday Night Football'

Each MLB team’s most important free agent

LaVar Ball refuses to thank Donald Trump in CNN interview

DeMarcus Cousins elbows Russ in head, gets ejected

WATCH: Hornets' Cody Zeller hilariously rejected by the rim

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

JR Smith shovels no look-dime to Dwayne Wade for bucket

WATCH: Mohamed Sanu hauls in tough one-handed TD

Rams lose Robert Woods for a couple weeks to shoulder injury

Bears TE Zach Miller finally at home three weeks after traumatic leg injury

Jerry Jones reportedly wants secret ballot in Goodell's contract talks

Baker Mayfield stripped of captaincy, won't start vs. WVU

The 'Wheelin' and Thielen in Minnesota' quiz

What each NFL team should be grateful for this Thanksgiving

Sports & Politics Intersect: Is Jerry out of his league?

Winners and losers from NBA's first month

MLS conference finals predictions: Who will advance to play for Cup trophy?

Should the Broncos make Tyrod Taylor their next quarterback?

15 mid-majors you need to know before you hear about them in March

Follow Ben Simmons as he leads us to the NBA's unknown future

The Saints flipped the script to revive their season

The 15 best and 15 worst MLB signings of the last decade

14 things we hated about 2017 college football season

Vikings' unnecessary quarterback conundrum is Mike Zimmer's doing

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Yardbarker Privacy Policy and Terms of Service. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

The 'Wheelin' and Thielen in Minnesota' quiz

What each NFL team should be grateful for this Thanksgiving

NFL Week 11 injury report

Sports & Politics Intersect: Is Jerry out of his league?

15 mid-majors you need to know before you hear about them in March

The 'An I, Tonya for an eye (or knee)' quiz

Should the Broncos make Tyrod Taylor their next quarterback?

The 15 best and 15 worst MLB signings of the last decade

The 'It's a major award!' quiz

Follow Ben Simmons as he leads us to the NBA's unknown future

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker