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06 Jun 2007

O Bennett Where Art Thou?

by Bill Barnwell

The 2007 season will bring the Tennessee Titans a new number-one running back and receiver by default. The loss of Travis Henry to Denver and Drew Bennett to St. Louis means that their team-leading yardage totals in 2006 will have to be made up elsewhere. Surely this can't be a good thing for the rapidly-developing Vince Young, no? Well, ten teams since 1966 have seen their top rusher and wideout move elsewhere in the off-season. Here are those teams, along with the effect the defections had on their offensive rank by points scored as well as yardage.

    NFL Rank, Points NFL Rank, Yards
Year Team Prev Next Dif Prev Next Dif
1971 St. Louis Cardinals 20 23 -3 12 23 -11
1977 Baltimore Colts 6 27 -21 11 24 -13
1992 New England Patriots 27 22 +5 27 24 +3
1993 San Diego Chargers 10 5 +5 20 11 +9
1994 Arizona Cardinals 27 28 -1 28 18 +10
1994 Houston Oilers 28 15 +13 27 25 +2
1997 Baltimore Ravens 16 26 -10 13 19 -6
1997 Chicago Bears 28 25 +3 29 20 +9
1997 San Diego Chargers 26 29 -3 27 28 -1
2001 Carolina Panthers 29 30 -1 31 31 0

While the differences shown above are wildly disparate, the averages are mild and mundane -- the average scoring rank was -1.3 places below their previous performance, while their yards rank actually went up very slightly. In other words, there appears to be no real discernible pattern. Each of the teams made its moves for different reasons:

1971 St. Louis Cardinals (4-9-1)

The Cardinals were an awful passing team, with quarterback Jim Hart yet to approach a completion percentage of 50 percent in six seasons. The only receiver of any note was John Gilliam, who caught a mediocre 42 passes. Leading rusher MacArthur Lane rushed for a respectable 3.9 yards per carry, but only got the ball 150 times; he split time with Cid Edwards, who averaged a yard per carry less. Gilliam, Lane, and Edwards all left for the NFC Central after the season, with Donny Anderson coming over from Green Bay in exchange for Lane in a challenge trade. Anderson performed slightly worse than Lane, but backfield mate Johnny Roland played much better than Edwards in an increased role. Meanwhile, Gilliam was replaced by former Chargers first rounder Walker Gillette and rookie receiver Ahmad Rashad. Hart got hurt and missed half the season, but when he came back in 1973, he completed 55 percent of his passes and made four consecutive trips to the Pro Bowl.

1977 Baltimore Colts (10-4)

Unlike the Cardinals, the Colts were a playoff team at the time they made the switch. Lydell Mitchell, who ran for nearly 1,200 yards and caught 70 passes, went to San Diego in exchange for 1976 first-round pick Joe Washington. Washington put up similar rate numbers but didn't get the ball as often. While Mitchell led the team in receptions and yards in 1977, the top receiver who didn't come out of the backfield was tight end Raymond Chester, who had 63 fewer yards than Mitchell. He went to Oakland to backup Dave Casper. The '78 team tried to replace him at tight end with rookie Reece McCall, but the youngster wasn't up for the challenge until 1979. Meanwhile, slot receiver Roger Carr returned to a role of big-play prominence in the offense, catching 30 passes for 629 yards. The real difference between the two teams, though, was the play at quarterback. The fantastic Bert Jones only played seven games between 1978 and 1979 because of injury, and backup Bill Troup dropped off in an ugly way, losing five percent from his prior completion percentage and throwing 21 interceptions against 10 touchdowns.

1992 New England Patriots (2-14)

The Patriots organization underwent a massive overhaul between '92 and '93, replacing Dick McPherson with Bill Parcells and drafting Drew Bledsoe with the first overall pick. Bledsoe replaced the quarterback hydra that was Hugh Millen, Tom Hodson, Scott Zolak, and Jeff Carlson, with only Zolak sticking around to throw two incomplete passes in '93. Leading rusher Jon Vaughn, the Patriots' fifth-round pick in 1991, was cut and out of the league by 1994. Leonard Russell, who had struggled with injuries in 1992, returned to the fold and ran for 1,088 yards. At receiver, though, the Patriots took a huge hit with the loss of Irving Fryar to the rival Dolphins. Fryar immediately raised his game to a new level despite Dan Marino's season-ending injury, while the Patriots expanded Michael Timpson's role and drafted Vincent Brisby in the second round. In addition, while 1992 saw tight end Marv Cook catch 52 passes and backup Ben Coates 20, the following year Coates grabbed 53 and Cook 22. Coates would begin a run of five consecutive Pro Bowls the next season.

1993 San Diego Chargers (8-8)

The '93 Chargers were seen as a disappointment after an 11-win campaign in 1992, so changes were made to try and inspire a return to form; Stan Humphries was named the starting quarterback, with John Friesz gone to Seattle. Marion Butts headed to New England, while star wideout Anthony Miller made his way to the Broncos. Improvements came across the board. Humphries' rate statistics increased dramatically, with Miller's loss replaced by a balanced attack featuring undrafted free agent Mark Seay, former Dolphins receiver Tony Martin, and an expanded role for Shawn Jefferson. The real upgrade, though, was the replacement of Butts with backup Natrone Means, who rushed for 1,350 yards in his only real season of prominence. The changes pushed the Chargers back to 11 wins and a Super Bowl appearance in '94.

1994 Arizona Cardinals (8-8)

The Cardinals collapsed in 1995, but it wasn't because their offense got much worse (as it went from 27th in points scored to 28th); instead, their defense went from being fourth in the league to dead last, which ended Buddy Ryan's term as the resident defensive genius in the desert. Perhaps buoyed by the Chargers' success, the Cardinals made wholesale changes on offense: Dave Krieg replaced Jay Schroeder and Steve Beuerlein at quarterback, while running back Ronald Moore went to the Jets in exchange for new number-one wideout Rob Moore. The rushing slack was picked up by 1993 first-round pick Garrison Hearst, who ran for 1,070 yards in his first season as a starter. The Cardinals replaced both starting wideouts, as Ricky Proehl and Gary Clark were replaced by Moore and rookie second-rounder Frank Sanders; the player who led the team in yardage, though, was the drastically underappreciated Larry Centers, who caught 101 passes for nearly 1,000 yards out of the backfield in 1995.

1994 Houston Oilers (2-14)

The basement-dwelling Oilers were also making wholesale changes, as 1994 saw Jeff Fisher enter the fold in midseason as an interim head coach. He hasn't budged since (although the whole team picked up and left town). With Warren Moon gone, the '94 team was a mix of bad ideas (Bucky Richardson/Cody Carlson) and bad jokes (Billy Joe Tolliver) at quarterback. 1995 saw Chris Chandler come in and perform admirably while Steve McNair slowly developed behind him. Leading rusher Lorenzo White went and finished his career in Cleveland, while rookie third-rounder Rodney Thomas rushed for 947 yards before being replaced in 1996 by Eddie George. Starting wideout Webster Slaughter went to Kansas City, with his performance replaced by third-rounder Chris Sanders and the newly-acquired Frank Wycheck. You'll note how the pieces of what ended up being an excellent team came into place over the course of these two seasons, a development pattern Tennessee hopes that Fisher repeats in 2007.

1997 Baltimore Ravens (6-9-1)

Ted Marchibroda swapped out all of his offensive parts and managed to score 57 fewer points; that's a good way to lose your job. That being said, he didn't actually make too many awful moves. He replaced the reasonably effective Vinny Testaverde with the similarly-productive Jim Harbaugh, giving Eric Zeier more of a chance in the process; Zeier would be frozen out when Brian Billick arrived in '99, but put up solid numbers as a pro and probably could've been more useful than he was given credit for. At running back, Bam Morris' substance abuse troubles led to his being cut and replaced by an obscure undrafted rookie by the name of Priest Holmes; Holmes ran for 1,008 yards as a rookie, averaged 5.7 yards per carry in a part-time role while struggling with injuries in 1999, and then lost his job to Jamal Lewis in 2000 before going to Kansas City. At wide receiver, Derrick Alexander went to Kansas City, while number-two receiver Michael Jackson's performance dropped by a third playing with Harbaugh. Most of the leftover passes went to aging veteran Floyd Turner, in his final NFL season. Tight end Eric Green's performance also dropped in half in 1998.

1997 Chicago Bears (4-12)

Despite Raymont Harris' running for 1,000 yards, the Bears drafted Curtis Enis in the first round and acquired longtime Packers running back Edgar Bennett, with Harris going to Green Bay. The significantly underrated Ricky Proehl left to become the Rams' slot receiver, replaced by the even more significantly underrated Bobby Engram. Erik Kramer was the starting quarterback, and Rick Mirer (who I'd forgotten was ever a Bears quarterback) backed up. Next year, something named Steve Stenstrom got to throw 196 passes. The Bears wouldn't get their offense right until 2001, by which point Dave Wannstedt had lost his job.

1997 San Diego Chargers (4-12)

Noted offensive guru Kevin Gilbride couldn't get the offense right, and '98 saw him replaced halfway through the season by June Jones. The Chargers used the second overall pick in the 1998 draft on Ryan Leaf, which should give you clue one as to why they actually got worse. Gary Brown went to New York and was replaced by the returning Natrone Means, who put out his last competent season in response. Unfortunately, the Chargers couldn't find a replacement for Tony Martin, with Wendell Davis being pulled out of mothballs after five years out of the NFL. In addition, the following anonymous men showed up at receiver: John Burke, Tony Gaiter, Frank Hartley, Latorio Rachal, and Ryan Thelwell. All were playing in their final NFL season.

2001 Carolina Panthers (1-15)

You might imagine that it's hard to get worse than being 1-15, but the Panthers offense managed to do it in between '01 and '02. New coach John Fox took the defense from 28th in the league to fifth, but the changes on offense were unproductive. Chris Weinke was swapped out for Rodney Peete, while 2001 leading rusher Richard Huntley was cut and replaced by Dolphins running back Lamar Smith. At wide receiver, Donald Hayes went to New England (where he quickly washed out), with an expanded role given to a cocky third-round pick by the name of Steve Smith. By 2003, the addition of Jake Delhomme pushed the Panthers into the playoffs, where they made it all the way to the big game.

It's hard to find a team that really compares to the Titans; record-wise, the 1993 Chargers and 1994 Cardinals would be closest, but both replaced their quarterback as well and the Titans won't be doing that. The 1992 Patriots had their personnel at similar development and investment levels, but they were really bad and the Titans were average; in addition, saying that Drew Bledsoe and Vince Young are in any way similar stretches credibility. What can be said is that losing the top rusher and receiver from the previous year is by no means a death knell for a team's offense.

Posted by: Bill Barnwell on 06 Jun 2007

43 comments, Last at 14 Jun 2007, 9:37pm by DolFan 316

Comments

1
by Martin (not verified) :: Thu, 06/07/2007 - 12:42am

In fact, sometimes there are no direct correlation between any teams, but you have to wonder who will rush the ball (except from Young)... Lendale "can't wait to top 300 pounds" White or the workout warrior. Can't wait for the season to begin!

2
by Kuato (not verified) :: Thu, 06/07/2007 - 1:00am

Quick thing.

As a Colts fan, I must point out that in 1977 they were not the Indianapolis Colts. I say so quickly before an old Baltimore Fan shows up and starts compaining about how Indy has done everything in their power to steal Baltimore's glory.

3
by Bill Barnwell :: Thu, 06/07/2007 - 2:19am

Doh. That's what I get for writing about teams seven years before I was born. Fixed.

4
by Theo, Holland (not verified) :: Thu, 06/07/2007 - 8:26am

"What can be said is that losing the top rusher and receiver from the previous year is by no means a death knell for a team’s offense."

It could become ugly if those players are replaced by a receiving squad that had 49 reception combined last year and a HB who's not exactly de definition of a fantasy stud.

5
by James C (not verified) :: Thu, 06/07/2007 - 9:44am

The problem that the Titans have is that they not only have to replace their leading rusher and receiver, but their best player also managed to get himself suspended for the year (Jones). Add that one in and they may be a bit goosed.

6
by Mr Shush (not verified) :: Thu, 06/07/2007 - 10:13am

And while they may not be planning to replace their quarterback, no amount of faultlessly reasoned Madden Curse de-bunking is going to keep Kerry Collins off the field this season . . .

I'd back the Titans to be up there challenging the Dolphins ('cause their quarterback isn't staying healthy either), Chiefs, Vikings, Raiders and Joey Harrington's Falcons in the all-NFL offensive futility stakes.

7
by Joe T (not verified) :: Thu, 06/07/2007 - 10:24am

Give Joey Harrington some credit. He's a smart guy. He knew that he'd get a chance to start once Michael Vick shoots himself in the foot. Backing up Michael Vick is a great opportunity for a 2nd-stringer who would like to (re)prove himself.

8
by ammek (not verified) :: Thu, 06/07/2007 - 11:32am

"The Bears wouldn’t get their offense right until 2001."

Or indeed ever.

Bears' 2001 DVOA: -6.8 (ranked 23rd out of 31). Or about as good as last year's Cardinals.

9
by beedubyuh (not verified) :: Thu, 06/07/2007 - 11:38am

Stenstrom!

10
by ammek (not verified) :: Thu, 06/07/2007 - 11:41am

I'm not sure what this article is trying to say. The premise is odd already, since a clean slate was ordered in most of the cases described because the team's offense was already horrible. That's not the case with Tennessee 2006 - as others have pointed out, the Titans ought to be more concerned about their defense.

It's probably more interesting to note that all but two of the teams in your study finished in the bottom quarter in offensive points the season after the clearout. In other words, lots of bad offenses stayed bad. As that's not the case in Tennessee I don't see what this piece can tell us about the Titans' offensive prospects this upcoming season.

11
by Alex (not verified) :: Thu, 06/07/2007 - 12:13pm

#6: "And while they may not be planning to replace their quarterback, no amount of faultlessly reasoned Madden Curse de-bunking is going to keep Kerry Collins off the field this season . . ."

Need I point out that the Titans are immune to the Madden Curse? Eddie George played all 16 games and had one of the best seasons of his career when he was cursed. Vince Young should be fine.

12
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Thu, 06/07/2007 - 12:23pm

"It’s probably more interesting to note that all but two of the teams in your study finished in the bottom quarter in offensive points the season after the clearout. In other words, lots of bad offenses stayed bad. As that’s not the case in Tennessee I don’t see what this piece can tell us about the Titans’ offensive prospects this upcoming season."

But thats EXACTLY the case. Tennesee was ranked 25th last year. They were an awful offense.

13
by Alaska Jack (not verified) :: Thu, 06/07/2007 - 2:12pm

The 1994 Oilers are an interesting case, as I mentioned in the long-ago thread about the Run-and-Shoot offense.

The year before, the team looked awful at first. Then they not only rallied, they won their last 11 straight. Heywood Jeffires, Warren Moon, Bruce Matthews, Mike Munchak and Webster Slaughter made the pro bowl. The offense finished third in the NFL. The immortal Gary Brown ran for 1,002 yards, and Lorenzo White chipped in almost 500 more. And all this despite the fact that Warren Moon threw as many INTs (21) as TDs.

After that year, Kevin Gilbride was fired, Moon traded to Minnesota and the Run and Shoot junked.

The following year, as the article notes, the Oilers finished 2-14. The offense finished 22nd. A single offensive player (Bruce Matthews) made the Pro Bowl. And it wasn’t a defensive collapse: the Team’s defense actually improved, from 15th to 7th.

To their credit, the team rebounded behind the foolproof combination of excellent coaching and top-notch drafting.

Just think it's interesting, that's all.

- Alaska Jack

14
by Jacob Stevens (not verified) :: Thu, 06/07/2007 - 2:18pm

The loss of Pac-Man Jones (happy for the hyphen, Aaron?) might not end up making a huge impact. Certainly some, and it's a near guarantee his absence will prevent them from otherwise possible improvement. He played well, including punt returning, but wasn't decisive in a lot of games, and Nick Harper was a good pickup for them.

The difference is going to be felt, OK. But the impact could end up being well overstated.

15
by AlexDL (not verified) :: Thu, 06/07/2007 - 2:19pm

#11 - Alex,
You are just taunting the all powerful Madden Curse.
You need to remember that since EA acquired the exclusive NFL licence the curse has only gained strength and don't think that it doesn't remember "the one that got away"

16
by Jacob Stevens (not verified) :: Thu, 06/07/2007 - 2:21pm

#13 -

Heywood Je-WHAT?

17
by Joe T (not verified) :: Thu, 06/07/2007 - 3:06pm

Vince Young will receive Eddie George's overdue misfortune. The best thing that could happen to VY this offseason is for Eddie George to get hit by a truck, because when the Madden Curse bites back at the Titans it will be vicious.

Of course, VY could try brushing some lamb's blood over the locker room door in hopes the Madden Curse would pass him by.

18
by AmbiantDonkey (not verified) :: Thu, 06/07/2007 - 3:17pm

The curse knows full well that Tomlinson is the rightful recipient of its wrath.

19
by NewsToTom (not verified) :: Thu, 06/07/2007 - 4:04pm

Re #13
The team's defense improved from 1993 to 1994? They allowed 114 more points, falling from 4th in scoring defense to 21st. They gave up a half yard more per carry, and .7 yard more per pass attempt. The '93 Oilers were a very good team with a lot of talent on both sides of the ball. The '94 Oilers were a very bad team, with a lot less talent.

It's a little off to refer to the '94 to '95 Oilers as a team that lost their leading WR; both Jeffires and Slaughter had 68 catches, and only Slaughter (who did have more yards) departed. Jeffires had 61 catches in '95 to lead the team. I'd be interested in seeing a list of teams that lost their top 2 pass catchers, and how they fared the next year. I'd also be interesting in seeing a list of teams where the QB entered the year with more career carries than everybody else on the team put together.

Re #14
No, he wasn't decisive in a lot of games. The Week 3 loss to Miami, where his PR TD was called back for a penalty. The Week 5 loss to the Colts, where his 1 play injury allowed the Colts a TD. The Week 8 win against the Texans, where he had a PR TD. The Week 12 win against the Giants, where he had 2 4th quarter interceptions to key the comeback. The Week 14 win over HOU, where he had a key solo tackle on Andre Johnson to force a 4th down and an FG try. The Week 15 win over JAX, where he had a long KOR to set up the Titans' only offensive points and a pick-6, accounting for 10 of the team's 24 points. The Titans would probably have won the Philly game without his PR TD, and would still have lost the Pats game without that PR TD. But, really, he only undoubtedly played a key role, by making plays he could make and Nick Harper couldn't, in 4 of his team's 8 wins. Pshaw, hardly any impact at all.

20
by bravehoptoad (not verified) :: Thu, 06/07/2007 - 4:46pm

Don't you guys know it's bad luck to be superstitious?

It's really the only superstition you need. Repeat after me: It's bad luck to be supertitious.

21
by DolFan 316 (not verified) :: Thu, 06/07/2007 - 6:22pm

#6:
I'm beginning to think the Madden Curse has extended itself to players who appear in ads for the game, after what happened to Culpepper last year...

But let's look at this rationally. The Titans have one RB who's getting closer to being the size of an offensoive lineman every day, and another one who's the epitome of "workout warrior" but has never done much of anything on the field. Is it really going to be that much of a shock if their running game undergoes a dropoff? And can anyone name a Titans WR off the top of their head without looking it up? I can, but only because I live in Tennessee and see every one of their games on the local affiliate. And even THEN it's a challenge.

I'm not even throwing in the fact that Young's playing style lends itself to a bigger injury risk than most QBs.

22
by Joe T (not verified) :: Thu, 06/07/2007 - 6:52pm

Vince Young will probably wind up throwing to himself on more than one occasion, a la Brad Johnson. His low release is just inviting a deflection, but he's athletic enough to snag his own deflected passes. Should make for an interesting offense.

I think more than a WR, VY needs a good receiving TE to help him out.

23
by NewsToTom (not verified) :: Thu, 06/07/2007 - 7:44pm

Titans WRs, off the top of my head:
Brandon Jones. One of the trio of WRs the Titans drafted in 2005, out of Oklahoma. Looked good his rookie year, before being injured (torn ACL, I think). Coming off such a serious injury, he looked very good in 2006, finishing 3rd among WRs in receptions. Frequently lined up over the TE as a true Flanker, not unlike an H-back position.

Courtney Roby. Like Jones, a 2005 3rd round selection, out of Indiana, where he set all sorts of school records. Also suffered a season-ending injury in 2005. Did almost nothing in 2006.

Roydell Williams. The 3rd of the 2005 WR draftees, in the 5th round out of Tulane. Ended up with a few receptions in 2005 after the other two rookies were injured. More production than Roby in 2006, not that that's saying much. Has not shown more than 4th/5th receiver ability to date.

David Givens. One of the Titans' big free agent acquisitions before 2006, and the biggest disappointment among them. Injured in training camp, he never looked particularly good, then suffered a torn ACL halfway through the year. At least report, was not walking unaided. Will not be available for the start of 2007, and may not be available at all.

Jonathan Orr. 2006 6th round pick out of Wisconsin. Spent the entire year on the 53-man roster, but inactive.

Justin Gage. The big free agent acquisition from the Bears this offseason. Had 4 receptions in 2006.

Paul Williams. 2007 3rd round pick out of Fresno State.

Chris Davis. 2007 4th round pick out of Florida State.

Joel Filani. 2007 6th round pick out of Texas Tech.

Clinton Solomon. Former Iowa Hawkeye. 2007 offseason signee.

I can't remember if they signed any UDFA WR's or not.

Yes, I'm a Titans fan.

24
by Mr Shush (not verified) :: Thu, 06/07/2007 - 10:58pm

"Tennesee was ranked 25th last year. They were an awful offense"

We-ell . . . Yes. Their unweighted full-season offensive DVOA was an icky -8.9%. But their weighted offensive DVOA was actually very slightly above average - 0.9%, good for 16th in the league. Now in general unweighted DVOA is a better predictor for the following season than weighted, but in this specific case it seems reasonable to view this as a case of genuine improvement stemming from a personnel change which will not (Madden Curse notwithstanding) be reversed. For predictive purposes, assuming Young is going to stay healthy, the DVOA ratings from the games Collins started should just be thrown out. I suspect that the Titans would not then come out as a horrible offense.

Perhaps the more relevant point is that while the offense as a whole wasn't too bad last year once Young entered the lineup, the wide receivers were horrible and the starting RB wasn't anything special. Bennett is a good #3 and a viable #2, but a horrible #1. Henry is a marginal starting calibre back. The good bits of the Titans offense - the quarterback, the line and the tight ends - are still in place.

And I say all this as a Texans fan, who would really, really like the Titans to suck. Go, Madden Curse, go!

25
by John (not verified) :: Thu, 06/07/2007 - 11:55pm

Out of idle curiosity, since Titans and now Texans fans are bumming around on a quiet thread: what are your realistic expectations for overtaking the Colts in the division? Or are you resigned to waiting for Manning to start getting old?

26
by Yaguar (not verified) :: Fri, 06/08/2007 - 12:15am

23: Why do the Titans have such a fixation on drafting WRs?

25: I think the Texans and Titans are miles away from the Colts at this point, and they'll stay that way for a while. The Jags, on the other hand, could take the division any year now with a little bit of luck.

27
by Oily Harry (not verified) :: Fri, 06/08/2007 - 12:37am

"Unfortunately, the Chargers couldn’t find a replacement for Tony Martin, with Wendell Davis being pulled out of mothballs after five years out of the NFL."

That was not the same guy.

The Wendell Davis who played for the Chargers in 1998 was a tight end from Temple.

The Wendell Davis who played for the Bears from 1988-93 was a wide receiver from LSU. His career ended on October 10, 1993 when the turf monster got him at Veterans Stadium. He leaped for a ball and blew out both knees while airborne after his feet got stuck to the turf. It remains the most disgusting injury I saw in an NFL game and that includes the Theismann, Krumrie, and McCallum injuries.

28
by NewsToTom (not verified) :: Fri, 06/08/2007 - 12:00pm

Well, the reason the Titans drafted so many WRs in 2005 was because they needed to. Their only returning WRs were Drew Bennett and the injured Tyrone Calico. As they had in 2004 with the DL, they addressed their depth needs by throwing lots of draft picks at the position, and hoping some of them stuck. Because they were still in Cap Hell (tm), they couldn't sign any better than marginal at best free agents, so they addressed the position through the draft. Note that in 2005 TEs ranked 2nd, 3rd, and 4th on the Titans in receptions, and RB Chris Brown was 5th.

As to why they drafted Jonathan Orr last year, or took 3 WRs this year, your guess is about as good as mine.

29
by Tom (not verified) :: Fri, 06/08/2007 - 1:15pm

as a Bear's fan I can give a scouting report on Justin Gage.

He is very talented, he has excellent jumping abilities and body control. He had an amazing catch in the 2005 Bears-Panthers game (regular season, not playoff), where he did like a 180 in the air within inches of the sideline. He is also a good run blocker. However, he is the most inconsistent player I have ever seen. This was attributed to lack of effort in Chicago. So, if Jeff Fisher fisher can properly motivate him, you may be pleasantly surprised. He could be very good possession receiver.

30
by NewsToTom (not verified) :: Fri, 06/08/2007 - 4:34pm

Re #25
Six months ago, I was saying 6-10 for the Titans in 2007. That was before the late season run, but a fortunate spate of wins do not mean a team is actually better. With the FA losses and Pacman suspension, my projection has been revised downward to 4-12. VY at least provides optimism for a decent offense, which may happen if people emerge at the "skill" positions, but I'm more concerned about the defense. I think it'll take at least two years to come up with a decent defense, and three to be good. So, looking forward, 8-9 wins is my hope for 2008, and 10+ and a playoff berth in 2009. I don't know that Bud Adams would be happy missing the playoffs 5 straight years again, as happened from 1994-98, but it wouldn't surprise me to see it happen.

31
by zoinks (not verified) :: Sat, 06/09/2007 - 2:32pm

Call me a homer, but I'm less pessimistic about the 2007 Titans.

First of all, the Titans have a pretty good O-line, and they're returning all five starters. Going into last year, everyone thought Travis Henry was washed up, and he ended up with 1200+ yards. A big part of this was the O-line.

I believe they'll re-sign Chris Brown at RB. He's not a franchise caliber RB, but he's very effective with blocking. Brown is faster than Henry, a better receiver, and more of a home run threat. He'll look much better now that he finally has a decent O-line. (The biggest challege will be keeping him healthy; limiting his reps with a RBBC approach should help with that.)

This article explains my thoughts on the Titans WR situation....not great, but not as bleak as people think.

Finally....a big part of their defensive woes last year was the result of horrible play by FS Lamont Thompson, and below average play by CB Reynaldo Hill. Expect both players to be replaced this year.

Am I expecting another postseason run this year? Maybe, maybe not. Losing Pacman Jones' playmaking ability hurts. However, I think the group as a whole will be more solid. I'm guessing they end up around 8-8 again, give or take a game. But if the so-called "VY effect" kicks in, they could end up winning 9-10 games, and be in contention for a spot in the postseason.

32
by DolFan 316 (not verified) :: Sat, 06/09/2007 - 6:12pm

Okay, I'm calling you a homer :-)

All I know is, the last two AFC teams to finish the season with a mad rush and barely miss the playoffs ('04 Bills and '05 Fins) were 5-11 and 6-10 the next season.

Not to mention the Titans had a boatload of incredible luck last year (Giants and Jags games anyone?) that I don't see them duplicating. If the offseason's any indication their luck not only won't be that great again, it'll be horrible.

33
by Parker W. (not verified) :: Sat, 06/09/2007 - 10:40pm

24 has a great point. I would love to see the DVOA for the Titans offense starting with the Cowboys game, when VY took over the starting job (I would have said given the job, but with the way Collins had been playing doing absolutely nothing justified taking over the job; Peter King had done enough to earn the job as of that point).

34
by NewsToTom (not verified) :: Sun, 06/10/2007 - 12:31am

Just for the record...

Titans' record with both Robaire Smith and Albert Haynesworth: 6-4
With both Smith and Haynesworth, VY starting: 6-2
Without either Smith or Haynesworth: 2-4
Without either Smith or Haynesworth, VY starting: 2-3
Robaire Smith is now gone. Yes, Rien Long comes back from injury, we hope, and they drafted Antonio Johnson, but I don't consider those an even trade. And they failed to add a second competent defensive end to play opposite Kyle Vanden Bosch (don't mention Jacob Ford as a counterargument to this point). The defensive line will quite likely be an even bigger weakness than it was in 2006. When combined with a LB corps that had probably no more than a marginal upgrade at MLB, and a secondary that'll be at best just as good, I can't see the Titans moving up in the defensive rankings. And until the Titans have a defense that's average or better, the playoffs are not a realistic expectation.

35
by zoinks (not verified) :: Sun, 06/10/2007 - 5:14am

re:#34

Valid points.

However, the Haynesworth/Smith info is a bit misleading. Most of the games in which both players appeared came in the second half of the season...which was also the point at which Vince Young finally hit his stride and started making plays. This contributed a great deal more to the team's improvement than anything Haynesworth or Robaire did.

As a matter of fact, I thought both Haynesworth and Robaire slipped a bit in 2006. Both of them were largely invisible for long stretches, and at no point did either player have a significant impact on the defense.

You're absolutely right about the defense; until it's fixed, the Titans have no business even thinking about the postseason. However, just as I believe you've overestimated the value of Haynesworth and Robaire, I believe you've underestimated the impact of keeping Lamont Thompson and Reynaldo Hill off the field. They were a constant Achilles' heel last year, and between the two of them, they probably allowed for 70% of big plays and scoring strikes given up by the defense. The way I see it, replacing them is an immediate upgrade....that alone could improve their ranking by ten spots.

Re: #32....Correct me if I'm mistaken, but I believe the two teams you mentioned (Bills and Fins) struggled with poor performances from their respective QB's. A team is only going to go as far as their QB takes them.
It's no secret that the Titans' hopes rest on the shoulders of Vince Young. If Vince plays well and progresses as a passer, the Titans could have a good chance of making another run. However, if Vince stumbles, then he takes the team's hopes with him.

36
by GBS (not verified) :: Mon, 06/11/2007 - 8:59am

Instead of injury, I believe the Madden Curse will contniue to live on after this year as Vince Young plays exactly as well as he did last year but things don't break as well for the Titans. Suddenly, Young will no longer be the guy who "just wins games" and people will blame Sophomore Slump, Madden Curse, or some other malady.

37
by Dean (not verified) :: Mon, 06/11/2007 - 10:01am

Yo Aaron or FO guys, any ballpark idea of when this years fantasy projection database is going up to be up on the website this year? Helped a lot last year, thanks!

38
by Mr Shush (not verified) :: Mon, 06/11/2007 - 11:35am

#25 - I think the Texans are one of the hardest teams to call accurately this season, largely because there is not really any sensible way to estimate how good Schaub will be, partly because we still don't know whether or to what extent Spencer will recover from injury or whether his strong play at the start of last season was a reflection of his true ability, and partly because Williams could play at the same mediocre level as last year, have a colossal break-out season, or anything in between.

I think it's not inconceivable the Texans could win as many as 8 or 9 games this season, if the front 7 plays at a high level and Schaub turns out to be a top 10 QB. I think it's far more likely that they'll win 5-7 games again, while posting a somewhat higher DVOA than last year. I think there is no possibility whatsoever of them passing the Colts this season or next, but like Yaguar I think the Jags have a real chace to do it any year you care to name.

39
by NewsToTom (not verified) :: Mon, 06/11/2007 - 3:43pm

Re #35
I'd feel a lot better about keeping Hill and Thompson off the field if (a) I was sure that was going to happen and (b) I had confidence their replacements would be better. With the signing of Herndon now to go with Harper, I can see Hill not being on the field as often, though I still think he might be the nickelback over Finnegan (I suspect Finnegan's good FO numbers are the product of the nickelback effect). The downside of this is, of course, there's nobody teams will avoid the way they did Pacman most of the time last year.

This also raises the question of what the heck they're going to do with Griffin. Now that they have Herndon, do they still plan to move him to CB, or will they have him work at S and occasionally cover slot guys like Schulters did? That would make the most sense to me, but I don't like the Keystone Kops-style feeling that gives me from the organization. If you do keep Griffin at S, and he does win the starting job (perhaps a tall order with Fisher, the coach who started Greg Favors over Keith Bulluck for two years), then I'd expect rookie mistakes, the same sort of thing Titans fans have seen far too often from Thompson.

So, even if the secondary is about as good as it was last year (16th in pass D DVOA), that still leaves the league's 28th best run defense (by DVOA) to improve. -Robaire Smith +Antonio Johnson +Jacob Ford +Rien Long from injury net(+Fowler/Tulloch -Sirmon) doesn't give me much confidence that's a problem that will be fixed.

So how, often can the Titans score 24+ points? I suspect they'll need to do that a lot to win many games, and I don't think they have enough offensive weapons to do it. The revision down to 4-12 may be overly pessimistic, but I believe 6-10 is a realistic expectation for the Titans' 2007 record.

40
by krugerindustrialsmoothing (not verified) :: Tue, 06/12/2007 - 11:20am

threadjack alert:
Just pre-ordered my PFP on Amazon. I feel like a kid counting down the days to Christmas. Plus, I find myself anticipating the end of summer with great glee.

41
by NewsToTom (not verified) :: Tue, 06/12/2007 - 5:40pm

Threadjack rejection!

It was announced today that Pacman Jones has dropped the appeal of his suspension, and will serve all 16 games. The obvious question is why the heck he would decide to do this, because it doesn't seem like it gets him anything at all. I actually think, as a Titans fan, this is good news. I believed his chances of having the suspension reduced were slim at best, but the appeal did pose a threat to the league and its relationship with the NFLPA. Additionally, what concerned me the most about Pacman's suspension was that it was for 1 year, plus until whenever Goodell decides to grant reinstatement. When that came down, I thought it more likely than not Pacman had played his last NFL game, a feeling exacerbated when I read about Goodell's strip club-related motivation. My guess is that the deal to drop the appeal of the suspension included some guarantee that Pacman would be reinstated for the 2008 season, contingent upon satisfactory resolution of the pending Georgia case (for which a plea deal may be already in place, at least in principle) and the Las Vegas investigation (for some definition of satisfactory resolution).

If I'm right, this notably reduces the future uncertainty from Pacman's perspective, while allowing Goodell to still look like the strong commissioner cracking down on player conduct.

42
by Brooklyn Bengal (not verified) :: Wed, 06/13/2007 - 11:33am

RE: #27

I was just a wee pup when I witnessed the Krumie injury, but I still remember the entire bone-shattering play vividly. It's tough to imagine a worse-looking injury than that. Much sympathy to Wendell Davis for grabbing that unwanted distinction.

43
by DolFan 316 (not verified) :: Thu, 06/14/2007 - 9:37pm

#40:

I anticipate summer's end with great glee every year as well. Not just because I'm a football fan, but because I just can't stand summer. I never did, not even when I was in school. The heat, the bugs, the lame "summer blockbuster" movies and endless re-runs on TV, who the hell needs it?