|Locker will have to play better next season. (US Presswire)|
As each NFL team is officially eliminated from postseason contention, the Eye on Football crew will whip up a review of that team's 2012 season. Today, we look at the Titans.
What Went Wrong
More than we might have expected. We would have expected Jake Locker to establish himself as a legitimate NFL starting quarterback in his second season in the league. We would have expected running back Chris Johnson to rediscover his form on a more consistent basis. We would have expected receiver Kenny Britt to overcome his legal problems and become the No. 1-type receiver he could be.
Instead, Tennessee got a Locker who couldn't stay healthy and, when he did play, was underwhelming. We got a Johnson who was better than last season but who probably won't ever be CJ2K again. We got a Britt who has been surpassed by rookie Kendall Wright. And now we've got questions about coach Mike Munchak -- who has been the coach for two seasons and has slipped to a 4-9 record in 2012 after a surprising 9-7 mark last season.
Then, there's the defense that ranks 26th in the league (and 31st in the league in points allowed). Munchak fired offensive coordinator Chris Palmer a few weeks ago, but Jerry Gray has stayed in charge of the defense. You have to wonder for how much longer that will be the case.
What Went Right
First-round pick Kendall Wright has had an impressive season, gathering 59 catches for 555 yards and four touchdowns, and though the defense wasn't very good this season, there is young talent all over the defensive line and in the linebacker corps.
And it's nice to see owner Bud Adams engaged. In case you thought the nearly 90-year-old was sort of halfway paying attention to his team, that thought was extinguished when he ripped the Titans after a 50-21 loss to the Bears by saying, “At this time, all aspects of the organization will be closely evaluated, including front office, coaches and players, over the next seven games. If performance and competitiveness does not improve, I will look at all alternatives to get back to having the Titans become a playoff and championship football team.” At least he's still got his passion.
It's unclear at this point, but I imagine Munchak is safe. But already, he's fired Chris Palmer, and you have to wonder if other assistant coaches' jobs are on the line, especially if Adams is motioning for change.
Tennessee actually does have plenty of talent throughout the first team depth chart. The biggest question marks in my mind are the quarterback position -- we still don't really know whether Locker is going to be a guy who can carry that organization to new heights -- and the interior offensive line play. Guards Steve Hutchinson (now on the IR list), Leroy Harris (also on IR) and Deuce Lutui haven't been great, while Fernando Velasco has been shuffled from center to guard and Kevin Matthews has gone the opposite way. The Titans need interior linemen, because what they have right now could be improved.
NFLDraftScout.com gurus Rob Rang and Dane Brugler are projecting that Tennessee will try to improve its defensive line in the first round of the 2013 draft. Rang has the Titans picking 10th and selecting Georgia defensive tackle John Jenkins while Brugler thinks it'll be LSU defensive end Sam Montgomery. It's true that Tennessee could use some help with its defensive ends, but I think getting a quality interior lineman is just as important. Of course, that's not to say that the Titans couldn't bulk up their defensive line AND their offensive line in the first couple of rounds.
2013 will be...
Where Munchak really has to make a move with this team. The Titans have young talent. Munchak needs to be careful with whom he hires to take over the offense in 2013, and it wouldn't be a great situation if Locker and Matt Hasselbeck continue to have to split in-game snaps next year. It's probably too early to give up on Locker, but if next year's season goes as badly as this year's season has been, Munchak's job might be on the line. Especially if Bud Adams deems it appropriate.
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