Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes. Time to change the Titans, ch-ch-ch-changes.
The Titans are going through a lot of change this season. Jeff Fisher is gone after 16 seasons. Kerry Collins is gone. Vince Young is gone.
Mike Munchak is the new head coach. Chris Palmer is the new offensive coordinator. Matt Hasselbeck and Jake Locker are the new quarterbacks. So you ask yourself, "What's this offense going to look like this year?" and my answer is "I don't know, I'm not a fortune teller. What did you expect of me? I don't have supernatural powers, otherwise I would be rich and I wouldn't be here."
Here's what I can tell you:
Munchak isn't a life-long Houston Oiler/Tennessee Titan by definition. He wasn't drafted by the team when he came out of his mothers womb, because at that time he was just a baby. Very incapable at the time of blocking defensive ends and tackles. However, he was drafted by the organization in 1982 and has been there ever since. Now he's moved up from 17 years as a coach to being the head guy. The Titans are changing and staying the same at the same time.
Chris Palmer is a guy known for working well with quarterbacks. He's worked with Drew Bledsoe, Mark Brunell, Eli Manning, and Tony Romo, and for the most part got the best out of them when he was with those teams. However, he was also the first offensive coordinator of the Texans and worked with David Carr. As I pointed out in the Texans preview, that's not so good. What will he do for Jake Locker is the big question.
Let's preview the QBs and the rest of the team...
Watching Matty throughout his career, I can tell you he goes down as the All-Time franchise QB for the Seahawks. In his prime, he was a lot of fun to watch and was an excellent decision maker and accurate passer. Unfortunately his prime ended 3 years ago. The numbers themselves show a player who has completed 58% of his passes, 34/44 TD/INT ratio, 71.2 QB rating and 12-23 record. The eyes showed me a guy who was trying to over-compensate at times for strength he lost by getting old, getting injured, and having a bad offensive line, and therefore making some very poor decisions. In Tennessee he's getting a better offensive line, a better running back, and perhaps with Kenny Britt, a better wide receiver. However, he's got a young buck hot on his heels. It all adds up to: Don't draft him unless its a 2 QB league. He's already way past the downside of his career. Love you Matt.
Coincidentally, I've seen a lot of Jake Locker throughout the years too. He's incredibly gifted, physically. He's got some work to do on his accuracy. He's probably not as bad off as Tim Tebow. He can make a boneheaded play and a "WOW DID HE JUST DO THAT?" play on back-to-back snaps. But he's young, so that's perhaps to be expected. In my opinion, he's perhaps bound for really-good-dom instead of stardom. Munchak has basically said that Locker can go 100-for-100 in the preseason with 100 TDs and not be named starter because the Titans are paying Hasselbeck a lot of money this season, and Jake could benefit from holding a clipboard and learning a new offense. Keeper league? Yes. One-year league? No. But if he picks up the starts in the 2nd half of the season, he has an ability to get TDs in bunches because of his legs.
He is holding out, he wants to be paid like one of the leagues top "playmakers" not like one of the leagues top running backs. I heard on the radio yesterday that a source that knows all about the Titans thinks its "50/50" that Johnson plays in week 1. This could be a real-deal holdout. But let's just pretend like he doesn't miss any games.
I said two years ago that I thought Johnson was the most talented player in the NFL. Not most talented running back, but most talented player. Now, he's not as valuable as Peyton Manning or Tom Brady perhaps, because you can't compare RB and QB. But physically, he's amazing. His running skills are off the charts. He did it all on a Titans team that had no other weapons. If not for the holdout, I have to put him ahead of Arian Foster and Jamaal Charles and Adrian Peterson because Johnson is proven and provides a little more of a well-rounded game than Peterson does. There is that holdout thing though, which isn't good news, but not terrible news. If you're sitting there at pick 5 and Johnson is available, thank your lucky stars.
If Johnson does miss any games, Ringer becomes the new starting running back, which makes him a very good sleeper and a must-draft for any Johnson owners. Ringer rushed 51 times in 2010 for 239 yards and 2 scores. He had 34 total yards on 5 touches in the first preseason game. At one point in his tenure at Michigan State he was getting Heisman consideration. However, he hurt his meniscus and his numbers suffered at the combine and he fell from a projected 2nd or 3rd rounder down to the 5th round in 2009. He's a talented "Chester Taylor-like" back. He's one of the top backups for fantasy in the entire NFL because of his current position.
He was a 4th round pick in this years draft. He rushed 8 times for 27 yards and a score in the first preseason game. If anything happened to the first 2 guys on the depth chart, Harper could be next in line, but he hasn't been making as many headlines or impressed as much as some other running back rookies around the league.
He could perhaps be the biggest wild card of the entire draft. 2010 could have been Britts breakout season, but he missed the middle of the season with a hamstring injury and he's just getting into camp now trying to get that hamstring to 100%. In just 10 games last year, he caught 42 passes for 775 yards and 9 touchdowns. He had one of the biggest individual performances of the season when he caught 7 balls for 225 yards and 3 touchdowns against the Eagles. There were only 3 games in which he didn't score a touchdown, and in one of those games without a TD he had 6 catches for 128 yards. In the offseason he was in trouble with the law twice, and I am still not sure that he won't miss some time from a suspension. (I haven't heard, has anyone else?)
Britt could be a #1 WR this year, but he's got to stay healthy and out of trouble. On average, he's getting drafted 26th amongst WRs and 63rd overall, which screams "MAJOR SLEEPER" to me.
When Britt wasn't playing, Washington stepped up. He averaged 66 yards per game when Britt was out, and 3 of those 6 games were very good WR2-fantasy kind of stuff. He'll never be a star perhaps, but if Britt misses an extended period of time, go get Washington.
It seems like we've always expected big things from Gage, who has had some big games in his career. Ehh... stop expecting big things. It's like, I stopped expecting to be rich. I stopped expecting to date a model. I stopped expecting respect and admiration from my friends, family, and co-workers. At a certain point in life, you can drop those expectations, and your life will be less stressful because of it. So don't expect much out of Gage, he is what he is.
Around Tennessee, Williams has a lot of fans from what I can tell. He was a 3rd round pick out of USC last season and caught 16 passes for 219 yards as a rookie. He reportedly showed up to camp 10 pounds heavier this season, but not LenDale White kind of 10 lbs, but the good 10 lbs. Hopefully he doesn't look like David Boston (for you young kids, Boston was a stud WR for the Cardinals one year, and then he showed up looking like Dolph Lundgren on steroids the next year. For you young kids, Dolph Lundgren was like an 80s version of John Cena. Him on additional steroids is comical because he was already so big.) and can use that bigger frame to his advantage against the physical cornerbacks.
With Gage and Washington being uninteresting, Williams has a chance to step up and be the #2 WR opposite Britt and he does have breakout potential. He'd be the guy I'd most keep an eye on throughout pre-season and early on in the year. If you see "Damian Williams, 100 yards" during the season this year, don't take it with a grain of salt because it might be a genuine sign of things to come.
If you were allergic to fish, would you be a sushi chef? If you were allergic to platinum, would you wrap yourself in it like you were on the Jersey Shore? Well, Jared Cook is allergic to grass. The things kids do for money.
Cook could be a breakout tight end option this season. He was a 3rd round pick in 2009 and with Bo Scaife out of the picture, Cook has every chance to be the #1 TE on the depth chart. He started college as a wide receiver, then moved to TE, and Hasselbeck compared his ability to jump and grab the ball to Antonio Gates. He's another one to keep an eye on this year.
If he doesn't establish himself as the guy, then Daniel Graham and Craig Stevens will get looks... but I am more interested in the career path of Justin Bieber than I am in the career path of those two. (I am not interested in said career path)
follow me on twitter @casetines