PFT Preseason Power Rankings No. 19: Tennessee Titans

AP

If the Titans don’t finish the season ranked higher than this, owner Bud Adams is probably going to have a double-barreled middle finger salute for a few more people.

The Titans spent a pile of Adams’ money this offseason on free agents this offseason, and he’s made it clear he’s expecting results.

But the questions about whether or to what degree they’ll improve over last year’s 6-10 record remain.

While there are some talented pieces in place, they’ve placed their fortunes (and future jobs) into the hands of quarterback Jake Locker and first-year coordinator Dowell Loggains.

If those two can get on the same page and perform, there are reasons to believe the Titans can be solid.

But to put it simply, if they’re not good, the Titans won’t be either.

Strengths.

The Titans should have an exceptional offensive line, once the new parts blend in.

Already solid on the edges with Michael Roos and David Stewart, they made a huge move for free agent guard Andy Levitre, and used their first-round pick on guard Chance Warmack.

That should help on multiple levels, giving running back Chris Johnson room to move, and protecting Locker to allow him a chance to make plays.

They also have plentiful threats in the passing game, with a deep receiver group and new acquisition Delanie Walker at tight end. While some of the wideouts haven’t completely earned the trust of coaches, there’s no doubt that the addition of rookie Justin Hunter to go with Kenny Britt, Kendall Wright, Kevin Walter and Nate Washington give them a talented group to choose from.

Weaknesses.

Of course, all the parts on offense won’t matter much if Locker can’t get it to them.

He became more accurate last season, but still isn’t to the point he needs to be (55.5 percent career completion percentage). And while his mobility can be an asset, he needs to make better decisions when he’s on the move for this thing to work.

If he falters, they brought in former Bills starter Ryan Fitzpatrick to take over. If that happens, it’s effectively a disaster signal. Fitzpatrick has been acceptable at times, but he’s simply a younger version of the old Matt Hasselbeck, and if he’s playing, the Titans are going nowhere fast.

The Titans also aren’t terribly blessed with pass-rush talent, and should be in the market for a veteran before the start of the regular season. Unless Derrick Morgan continues to progress into a star, or they add someone with proven credentials, their pass rush is going to be a question.

They tried to sign interior linemen hoping to help the problem around the edges from the inside, but without some more personnel, it’s hard to see how it’s going to be enough.

Changes.

Knowing this was a make-or-break season for many in Nashville, head coach Mike Munchak was willing to bring in veteran defensive assistant Gregg Williams when many would not have touched him in the wake of his bounty related suspension. It’s easy to call it a desperate move.

But while Williams has been trailed by controversy, he’s also been able to get results out of varied personnel in his career.

Much of that comes from the personality he teaches as much as the technique. And while Jerry Gray is still the de jure coordinator, it appears that Williams’ voice is the loudest.

Between his addition and Bernard Pollard’s mouth, the Titans will certainly have a more forceful approach to defense. Whether it translates into wins remains to be seen, but they’ve certainly created a new atmosphere. And when you’re a moderately talented fringe team, a change in attitude can make more of a difference than any change in personnel.

Camp Battles.

While the Levitre deal was huge, the Titans bought in bulk as well, and some of those free agents are competing to shore up some thin spots.

Former Colts and Eagles linebacker Moise Fokou was working in front of Colin McCarthy in the middle. McCarthy was very good as a rookie, but injuries limited him, and they’re making him win a job back against a solid player rather than simply handing it to him.

There’s also some competition in the middle of the offensive line, with incumbent Fernando Velasco needing to hold off fourth-round pick Brian Schwenke. That’s a good sign, as the lack of depth up front was one of the things that derailed them last season. Schwenke was regarded as a pro-ready prospect, and if Velasco isn’t sharp early, he could lose a job. Either way, the Titans have the chance to be solid in the middle for years to come.

Prospects.

The money the Titans spent was significant, over $100 million worth of total value.

But other than Levitre, many of the guys they signed were just guys, possibly upgrades over players already there, but not impact players.

While that could make the whole of the 53-man roster more competitive, which certainly has a benefit, it also might not make a huge difference in the fortunes of a team.

Hiring Williams was a tacit admission by Munchak that his own job was on the line, one of the last buttons you can push before you’re no longer allowed to push buttons.

If it works, the Titans could conceivably rise to the fringes of the AFC playoff picture.

Of course, that assumes Locker raises his own level, which is the first step toward them becoming respectable. That’s a lot of hope staked to one player, making the margin of error very thin.

25 responses to “PFT Preseason Power Rankings No. 19: Tennessee Titans

  1. Please make my Giants 18. The worse our pre-season rankings, the better we always end up. thanks.

  2. Still no idea why the Titans are ranked this high…I don’t see them as better than 7-9 and I would have put them behind the Chiefs and Tampa.

  3. I feel like there should be something mentioned here about the team adding Shonn Greene.

    The Titans had a terrible backup RB situation last year, and the addition of Greene should go a long way toward keeping Chris Johnson fresh.

  4. Bud Adams will pull the plug fast if the Titans don’t make the playoffs this year…no excuses, heavy pressure to succeed or get the boot

  5. Considering Jake Locker is the QB, how can you justify the Titans being better than 13 teams? Better than the Bucs and the Dolphins? I doubt it

  6. Locker’s biggest problem last year was the reps he missed when he was out for six games with that shoulder injury. The more reps he got the better he got.

    The collapse of the Titans O-line and overall defense last year was shocking; I think they’ll be a lot better in 2013.

  7. If Fitzpatrick is playing they’re going nowhere? Dude, he’s better than Jake Locker.

  8. Wow. 19? This team shouldn’t be ranked higher than 22, and that is being generous. No way this team is better than the Chiefs, Dolphins, or Buccaneers. Nate Washington has been there since 2009, no upgrade there, Kenny Britt has great talent but won’t play half the season because he can’t stay healthy, and Kevin Walter is another makeshift receiver. He’s not a playmaker. Jake locker hasn’t proven anything, other than being over hyped. Chris Johnson can barely break 1,000 yards. Where do you guys come up with this “sheet”?

  9. I laugh at this new Seahawks/49ers rivalry. You guys just won’t quit. I am not a huge fan of either team, but despite being a bit dorky, at least Harbaugh runs a clean camp. Pete the cheat Carroll brought his PED program from USC to the NFL, and it has become quite apparent. I use to root for the seahawks, but the team has become tainted under Pete, so I hope they lose now. Too bad for Russell Wilson, because he seems like a great guy, and I admire his perseverance being drafted later than he should have just because of his height.

  10. Locker and Fitzpatrick …. a dual threat that should scare the entire league!!!! Not !!!! Who is making these rankings? The Titans will be bottom dwellers this year

  11. Freeman>Fitzpatrick>Locker (Buffalo was stupid to let him go in the first place). Bucs>Titans.

  12. Locker has some intangibles, and hopefully the improved OL and new addition of a player who’s been there for four years in Nate Washington (sarcasm) will help.

  13. Wow! So a team with a new OC, an inaccurate QB, 2 new Olinemen who need to mesh, an average WR group, a new defensive specialist who will cause innumerable headaches for their DC, and an underachieving defense that hasn’t changed that much is in line #19?

    Considering the Dolphins, Bucs, Chiefs, and even Chargers should be better….good job?

  14. Horrible gawdawful D and a question mark at QB, and they treaded water at best during the offseason. I more than half expect them to be 32nd in the league in more than one statistical category, when all is said and done.

    I’d power-rank the Titans below the Dolphins and Chiefs and Lions (who each have some actual consistent heavyweight playmakers on at least one side of the ball), upper 20s/low 30s is more like it.

  15. glazerh8er says: Jul 15, 2013 9:54 PM

    Freeman>Fitzpatrick>Locker (Buffalo was stupid to let him go in the first place). Bucs>Titans.
    ==========================

    Way to set the bar high Bucs fans…

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