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AFC South Analysis - Tennessee Titans

Posted Feb 28, 2014

Tennessee finished with a 7-9 record in 2013, good for a second-place AFC South finish. It was a one-game improvement from 2012, but Tennessee changed coaches and has Ken Whisenhunt at the helm. Colts.com looks at the Titans.



INDIANAPOLIS – Tennessee had a second-place finish in the AFC South in 2013 with a 7-9 record.  It came after a third-place finish in 2012 and second-place finish in 2011. 

 

The one-game jump in record did not stop off-season changes, and Ken Whisenhunt replaced Mike Munchak at the helm.

 

The Colts swept the Titans in 2013, winning 30-27 in Nashville on November 14 in a game where Tennessee zipped to a 14-0 lead (click here for film breakdown).  Indianapolis took a 22-14 home win over Tennessee on December 1 (click here for Andrew Luck's clutch run late in game).

 

A look at the Titans:

 

2013 Record:  7-9, Second in AFC South

General Manager:  Ruston Webster

Head Coach:  Ken Whisenhunt (49-53, 2007-12 at Arizona)

Offensive Coordinator:  Jason Michael (1st season with Tennessee; 1st NFL coordinator role)

Defensive Coordinator:  Ray Horton (1st season with Tennessee; previously coordinator at Cleveland and Arizona)

 

2013 Pro Bowlers:  CB-Alterraun Verner

 

Pending Free Agents:  UNRESTRICTED – RB-Jackie Battle, WR-Kenny Britt, NT-Antonio Johnson, WR-Marc Mariani, C-Kevin Matthews, OT-Mike Otto, DE-Ropati Pitoitua, S-Bernard Pollard, QB-Rusty Smith, OG-Chris Spencer, C-Robert Turner, DB-Alterraun Verner, WR-Kevin Walter, RB-Leon Washington, WR-Damian Williams.

 

Rounds with Draft Picks:  1st round-11th overall, 2nd round-42nd, one pick in rounds 4-7 (rounds 4-7 overall choice not available until compensatory picks awarded)  

 

Estimated Salary Cap Space:  $8.6 million

 

Off. Rank (AFC/NFL):  Total – 336.9 (11/22); Rushing – 118.4 (7/14); Passing – 218.5 (11/21)

Def. Rank (AFC/NFL):  Total – 337.9 (8/14); Rushing – 112.2 (8/20); Passing – 225.8 (6/11)

 

Key Decisions:  After reaching a Super Bowl in Arizona with Kurt Warner, Whisenhunt spent three subsequent years searching for a quarterback.  There may be a need at that position with the Titans. 

 

Whisenhunt has Jake Locker (fourth year) and Ryan Fitzpatrick (tenth year) at his disposal now.  With a number of teams ahead of Tennessee that are looking at that position, some top choices may be off the board at 11th.  With the unpredictable nature of the draft, one prospect could slide that far.

 

The status of Chris Johnson is a possible situation to watch.  Johnson has been very productive in bursts during his career, but a coaching change could alter the dynamic.

 

Safety Bernard Pollard and corner Alterraun Verner both are set to be UFAs.  Verner is coming off a Pro Bowl year, while Pollard enters a ninth season. 

 

Under Ray Horton, look for Tennessee to shift from a 4-3 to a hybrid-type 3-4.  In such a scheme, observers wonder if a nose tackle of that description is on hand.


QUOTE-UNQUOTE:  Ruston Webster (on how difficult it is to evaluate Jake Locker’s progress) “The only thing we can really evaluate with Jake is how he has been in practice when he’s been healthy and how he has played when he’s been healthy, and he’s played well.  Last year, I think we were 4-2 with him as a starter and we were playing pretty well before he got hurt.  From that standpoint, the view we have is good.  It is really about him just staying healthy and he knows that.” Webster (on making a decision on Chris Johnson) “I think you just work through the process and go through all the pieces of the puzzle, one of them being (the combine), seeing what is out there at that position.  Ken (Whisenhunt) has to take some time because he has never coached Chris Johnson, so he is going through the evaluation process himself.  We are not going to push it.  If we did make a decision, it would be whenever we felt comfortable.” Ken Whisenhunt (on if he is optimistic Johnson will remain with Titans) “It’s a process that you go through with everybody on the team.  This is a part of it, the draft, the combine, and then free agency.  Putting together the team is not an exact science.  We’re under no deadline to do it.  We still have a lot of things that we have to evaluate going forward.  Chemistry is a big piece of it.  We haven’t even spent any time with our team yet.  There’s no rush to make a decision.” Whisenhunt (on if working with Locker reminds him of doing it with Ben Roethlisberger and if that can help to aid Locker’s skill set) “Jake exhibits a lot of qualities that you can get excited about.  One of the strengths that we’ve done is trying to tailor what we do to fit the player and until we get on the field with Jake and see some of the things he can do, we don’t know.  You don’t know which direction it’s going to go, but I’m excited about what I’ve seen as far as those qualities that he’s exhibited.  I think the arrow is definitely going up, and I’m looking forward to working with him on the field.”
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