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Preseason Power Rankings No. 30: Tennessee Titans

Jake Locker AP

The Titans have been decidedly solid yet uninteresting the last several years, floundering between six and nine wins for each of the last five.

They responded by firing the solid coach, and perhaps the most interesting player in franchise history.

While they’ll get a shot of energy from new coach Ken Whisenhunt and his staff, there are serious questions about how much he can do with this offense.

Running back Chris Johnson might not have been Chris Johnson any longer, but his absence still leaves a big hole, and there’s no way to have enough confidence in quarterback Jake Locker to fill that void.

With that much uncertainty, our PFT panel voted the Titans close to the bottom, at No. 30. They could end up better than that, but we’ll delve into the reasons why below.

Strengths.

Nothing against former coach Mike Munchak, but the Titans traded up in coaching staff.

Former Cardinals boss Ken Whisenhunt brought a good staff with him, as well as a reputation for working well with talented quarterbacks.

If he can get Locker to resemble a first-round pick, there’s a chance for the Titans to surprise people. But the first step will be keeping Locker on the field, and that’s been difficult.

With new defensive coordinator Ray Horton comes some new responsibilities for guys who were settled into a 4-3 scheme.

How he works Derrick Morgan, Kamerion Wimbley, Shaun Phillips and Akeem Ayers into the mix could define how successful their defense can be this year.

It’s a deep group of players who have shown they can rush the passer, and the shift could benefit Ayers, who has never lived up to his draft status.

The good news is they might be able to get by without him, as Phillips is the kind of solid veteran addition they made several of this offseason.

Their offensive line should be solid, and they have a good first three wideouts in Nate Washington, Kendall Wright and Justin Hunter. Coupled with a versatile tight end in Delanie Walker, there are options on offense if the run game stabilizes.

Weaknesses.

The Titans figure to play aggressively up front on defense.

Which should help, as their secondary could be a bit of a mess.

They never really replaced free agent departure Alterraun Verner, and have a committee of young players with chances to shine.

A solid group of safeties headlined by Bernard Pollard (who frankly had more in the tank than we expected last year) should help, but there are many question marks around the edges.

Of course, if Locker falters (or gets hurt again — what are the odds?), the Titans are in a mess. They brought in veteran clipboard-jockey Charlie Whitehurst, and drafted rookie Zach Mettenberger, but there’s no reason to think it will be anything other than a disaster if Locker’s not well.

Changes.

Whisenhunt should help move the Titans’ offense into the 21st century, bringing an up-tempo passing game which should mesh well with Locker’s abilities.

Getting the ball out quickly and allowing Locker to take advantage of his athleticism should help a team with a good group of pass-catching options.

It’s a bit of risk with Locker, now running his third offense in four years (while coming off foot surgery).

On the other hand, the simple act of changing things should help an organization that had gotten into a significant rut in recent years.

Munchak was a good solider, and probably got more chances than his record would have indicated because of his track record with the late owner Bud Adams.

But they’re entering a new era now, and unless Locker flourishes, there will be more changes on the way.

Camp Battles.

There are many, which is part of the reason it’s hard to peg the Titans this year.

Perhaps the most interesting will be to see what they do at offensive tackle.

In a problem few teams have, the Titans have three legitimate options to start.

Veteran left tackle Michael Roos is clearly nearing the end of a very good run with the team, but should have one good year left in him.

But then they went out and signed free agent Michael Oher to replace David Stewart, and used their first-rounder on Taylor Lewan, putting a lot of resources into the position.

While Lewan is the future at left tackle, and they’ll like that pick a year from now, his selection casts a different light on giving Oher guaranteed money.

Without Johnson, Shonn Greene will go into camp as the de facto starter at running back, but there’s an opportunity there for someone to earn some serious time, because Greene is Greene.

Bishop Sankey is an exciting prospect. While he might not have the potential to run for 2,000 yards, it’s easy to see him as a quality back.

They also need to find a new kicker, after parting ways with long-time Titan Rob Bironas.

For now, they have two guys named Maikon Bonani and Travis Coons, but this could easily be a revolving door that doesn’t stop until other veterans hit the street in September.

Prospects.

It’s not an overstatement to say the entire season, and the next few, hinges on Locker.

If he can earn the trust of Whisenhunt, they’ll have an expensive decision to make this offseason. They didn’t use the fifth-year option on him, leaving this year as a carrot for him.

And while Mettenberger is an interesting prospect, he’s hardly the next franchise passer, so if Locker fails, look for a high pick next year as they hit reset at the position.

At the same time, Whisenhunt has some parts to work with, and the defense has sufficient parts to keep them in games.

If they can keep Locker on the field and playing well, they have a chance to be competitive — which they were on the fringes of already.

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60 Responses to “Preseason Power Rankings No. 30: Tennessee Titans”
  1. wydok says: Jul 8, 2014 9:01 AM

    Again, someone is ahead of the Browns and Jaguars?

  2. oggreengold says: Jul 8, 2014 9:08 AM

    gone through the bottom three teams and the vikings still are not listed? into the trash these rankings go.

  3. robigd says: Jul 8, 2014 9:12 AM

    No Jags yet??

  4. reesesteel23 says: Jul 8, 2014 9:19 AM

    You’re damn skippy the Vikes still aren’t listed. Still sweatin bullets?

  5. bassplucker says: Jul 8, 2014 9:19 AM

    So three teams (at least) are worse than the Browns. Really?

  6. hodous says: Jul 8, 2014 9:25 AM

    Jaguars, Vikings, Browns have all been mysteriously elevated to heights not understood.

  7. gayforbrady says: Jul 8, 2014 9:28 AM

    Someone should sign Josh Freeman. He won’t take less than 3 million.

  8. southpaw2k says: Jul 8, 2014 9:32 AM

    “Whisenhunt should help move the Titans’ offense into the 21st century…”

    Only about 13 years behind the times on that one, if true. Why start now?

  9. bitw44 says: Jul 8, 2014 9:32 AM

    Please stop doing these rankings.

  10. jtowndolfan says: Jul 8, 2014 9:35 AM

    these rankings are so bad, theyre not even funny.

  11. youpeopleareallthesame says: Jul 8, 2014 9:36 AM

    I Disagree with these power rankings. #29 the New England Patriots?

  12. marc68 says: Jul 8, 2014 9:36 AM

    Wow,,, so many people crying about these PRE SEASON rankings. This isn’t based on LAST YEAR….. It’s for THIS YEAR.

  13. politicallyincorrect says: Jul 8, 2014 9:41 AM

    gee… all the bad teams are AFC so far… LOL

    AFC is turrible, just freaking turrible

    I don’t believe AFC had a single top 5 team last year

  14. bbeachler says: Jul 8, 2014 9:44 AM

    Most likely result of Titans being below (gasp: Browns and Jaguars) is due to lacking upgrades in the offseason. At least the 3 typical bottom feeder (Browns, Jags and Vikes) all SIGNIFICANTLY upgraded QB and other key positions of need from 2013. What did the Titans do aside from adding two re-tread coaches (DC from the Browns…)??

  15. vikesindividual says: Jul 8, 2014 9:44 AM

    Wow,,, so many people crying about these PRE SEASON rankings. This isn’t based on LAST YEAR….. It’s for THIS YEAR.

    ——-

    THANK YOU. my goodness, some of you just don’t get it. why on earth would you expect the final rankings THIS YEAR to be EXACTLY like they were last year? when has that EVER happened in the history of time?

  16. tennesseeoilers says: Jul 8, 2014 9:50 AM

    When the Titans were off to their 3 and 1 start last season (at which point Jake Locker sustained his hip and knee injuries on the same hit), it was Locker carrying the offense, not Johnson. In fact, in those first four games, Johnson never had 100 combined yards from scrimmage (rushing and receiving) or even scored a single touchdown.

  17. misterpositivity says: Jul 8, 2014 9:50 AM

    This could be the season Locker explodes!

  18. darkneptune73 says: Jul 8, 2014 9:52 AM

    I will never understand the hatred of the Vikings. If you want to hate someone, hate yourself for being bitter for no reason.

  19. politicallyincorrect says: Jul 8, 2014 9:59 AM

    I believe the NFC had a non playoff team better than the best AFC team last year!

  20. billyjaguar says: Jul 8, 2014 10:00 AM

    Jags Laughing At Ya!!

  21. nflgiant says: Jul 8, 2014 10:03 AM

    5-11 at best…2-14 at worst……..

  22. kylexitron says: Jul 8, 2014 10:08 AM

    Lets get mad at power rankings when 0 games have been played.

  23. 1973to1991packerssuckedbigtime says: Jul 8, 2014 10:09 AM

    No one seems to remember that the Vikings lost what, 5 games at the last second last year. To some decent teams. Not great teams, but decent teams.

    They have upgraded their defense, lost a couple older players but I feel they get better on D.

    They had such a stupid QB situation this year and they have some good young talent returning.

    So no matter how much you think they should be last packer fans, they are not as bad as you think and are closer to the top of the NFC North than you think.

    Skol

  24. leafsfins says: Jul 8, 2014 10:18 AM

    I hope Jack Bauer tortures these guys for pretending to be football analysts

  25. brutus9448 says: Jul 8, 2014 10:18 AM

    this just shows how much pft folks know about the NFL. Nada!

  26. doob187 says: Jul 8, 2014 10:24 AM

    You lost us at 32…

  27. jetsmmt says: Jul 8, 2014 10:26 AM

    Vikings or Redskins are next.

  28. southpaw2k says: Jul 8, 2014 10:34 AM

    politicallyincorrect says:

    “gee… all the bad teams are AFC so far… LOL

    AFC is turrible, just freaking turrible

    I don’t believe AFC had a single top 5 team last year”

    Are you trying to tell me that the NFC had 5 teams better than the Patriots and Broncos?

  29. thefiesty1 says: Jul 8, 2014 10:50 AM

    These rankings are bogus. Cleveland, J’ville and Oakland should be 32, 31, 30, in that order. You an cancel the rest of the rankings if they are as bad as the bottom 3.

  30. wiley16350 says: Jul 8, 2014 10:55 AM

    I’m pretty sure this one is wrong. The Titans have more talent than people realize and Locker is better than the majority know. Their schedule isn’t that tough either. I believe they are a playoff team, especially if Locker can stay healthy. This is the kind of team that comes out of nowhere because the media doesn’t watch them and can’t recognize the players names, so they assume they’re not that good. This team is better than you think and the fact you don’t realize it, only shows you haven’t done your homework.

  31. jwilliamsspf says: Jul 8, 2014 11:03 AM

    All mid-offseason rankings are junk. But I think that these rankings are trash. Just quit it.

  32. ctiggs says: Jul 8, 2014 11:06 AM

    Why cant i ever speak the truth about locker on my comments, the guy blows

  33. tjacks7 says: Jul 8, 2014 11:11 AM

    Is Kurt Warner coming with Whisenhunt? Otherwise, I think you’re overestimating how good Whisenhunt is at working with QBs.

  34. Marshawn Lunch says: Jul 8, 2014 11:12 AM

    The Whiz went to San Diego and Rivers saved his reputation. Why was it exactly that Whisenhunt got booted out of Arizona? Oh, right, it was how he handles BAD quarterbacks.

  35. thegenoatkinsdiet says: Jul 8, 2014 11:17 AM

    doob187 says:
    Jul 8, 2014 10:24 AM
    You lost us at 32…

    yet you took the time to comment…

  36. jamesefallen says: Jul 8, 2014 11:18 AM

    If your reason for posting these rankings was to provoke conversation, you certainly did. If it was to make people question your analytical skills, you’re 2 for 2. If it was just to tick people off … congratulations, you hit the trifecta.

  37. wydok says: Jul 8, 2014 11:22 AM

    My RSS feed showed an article indicating Jaguars were 29, but the link doesn’t go anywhere. So it was probably accidentally posted early and then deleted.

  38. yesrowntreeyesgrosvener says: Jul 8, 2014 12:24 PM

    Love the site, but I’ll be passing on numbers 29-1. The first three are blatant trolling.

  39. NFLisnotreality says: Jul 8, 2014 12:50 PM

    …and in at #29 the Seattle Seahawks…that’s how bad these rankings are…

  40. jagsfanugh says: Jul 8, 2014 1:28 PM

    Pre Season rankings. What part of that do you uninformed posters not understand? Woosh

  41. udontknowjaq says: Jul 8, 2014 1:37 PM

    Nothing brings out the whiners like preseason rankings! When I think of the bottom feeders in the NFL today these teams come to mind…

  42. bluenose1965 says: Jul 8, 2014 1:37 PM

    #30? That may be a bit high.

  43. jagsfan2012 says: Jul 8, 2014 1:42 PM

    Things are looking up! Signed-JagsFan2012

  44. tennesseeoilers says: Jul 8, 2014 1:51 PM

    I’m a Titans fan and I actually like this ranking. … Just like I liked ESPN’s Mike Sando recently ranking Jake Locker the next-to-worst starting QB in the league. (That’s good comedy.)

    Setting these sorts of expectations in the other 31 NFL cities will make what the Titans do this year all the more entertaining to watch. Under the radar doesn’t even begin to describe this team’s relationship with the national media.

    Love it!

  45. voiceofreasonsays says: Jul 8, 2014 1:51 PM

    Sadly, PFT will put teams that actually improved like the Jaguars, Redskins, Bears, and Giants behind the Factory of Sadness.

  46. voiceofreasonsays says: Jul 8, 2014 1:55 PM

    thefiesty1 says:
    Jul 8, 2014 10:50 AM
    These rankings are bogus. Cleveland, J’ville and Oakland should be 32, 31, 30, in that order. You an cancel the rest of the rankings if they are as bad as the bottom 3.
    ———————————————————————————–
    Oakland should be in the low 20s currently. Still much better than Gordon and Manziel-land.

  47. sweetnlow44 says: Jul 8, 2014 1:59 PM

    This coaching staff mostly underachieved in Arizona, so there’s no reason to expect them to be any better than the previous staff. Still baffling that the Vikings haven’t been listed yet. If we’re all being honest with ourselves, it should be a list of 31 teams with the Vikings left off altogether. They’re nowhere near an NFL caliber team.

  48. jjackwagon says: Jul 8, 2014 1:59 PM

    Jokeland hopes they can get this high in the power rankings by season’s end.

  49. jprcox says: Jul 8, 2014 2:02 PM

    Rankings are meant as a filler – if you dont like them, dont read or comment on them.

    As for Tenn being 30, I personally would have put them in the 24-28 range. I can think of worse teams.

  50. dawn of food says: Jul 8, 2014 2:05 PM

    Michael Oher a legitimate starting contender? 6 years of, let’s be charitable here, mediocre performances. He was pretty much a turnstile last year.

    Also, are there that many teams out there that can succeed if their quarterback goes down? I’m pretty sure that last sentence could apply to most (but not all, there is potentially at least one famous exception) of the NFL teams on this list.

  51. htowntexan says: Jul 8, 2014 2:14 PM

    the texans are worse the titans (and i’m a texans fan)

  52. titansbro says: Jul 8, 2014 2:19 PM

    Back in 2008 the Titans went 10-0 & were called the worst 10-0 team in history, even though they beat the major players in the AFC (Colts, Steelers) that year handily. They never get respect for how good they truly are, I’m used to it & I really couldn’t care less what the numbnuts on PFT think when they probably haven’t heard of half the players.

    These Titans are not the 2008 Titans, for sure. But they are probably closer to 20 than 30 in rankings.

    But there really is only 1 question when it comes to the Titans. Can Jake Locker stay healthy? There is enough talent on this team (including Locker) that they can be a playoff team if he stays healthy. But our backup QB is so awful that they probably will wind up at around 30 if Locker gets hurt.

    These rankings are pointless & are just here to fill the dead news times. It’s not worth getting worked up over.

  53. cybersqueak says: Jul 8, 2014 2:25 PM

    If Locker gets hurt again, then #30 will be too high of ranking for this team, but if he stays healthy look for the Titans in the Top 15. #TitanUp

  54. horsepedlr says: Jul 8, 2014 2:42 PM

    get ready for the same speech after every game from wiz “We just have to work harder.” horton isn’t as great as you think and wiz has no clue on an offensive line. just be glad you didn’t get Russ Grimm for o’line coach.

  55. christine5014 says: Jul 8, 2014 2:54 PM

    I love how whiny fans get about rankings. Is he stating facts? Does he back up his opinion? If the answer is yes, then stick it because it’s an opinion. New head coach and questionable qb situation. . Of course they would be towards the bottom of the rankings. Haven’t won a playoff game since 2003 I think??

    And for everyone whining that my jaguars should be behind them grow up.. assuming he’s done proper research on them instead of regurgitating 5 year old articles, when he gets to them (which will be in the next couple of spots anyway) you’ll find out why the arrow is up.. but WHO CARES?? Does this ranking have any bearing on what is going to happen?

  56. thephinatic says: Jul 8, 2014 3:01 PM

    So three teams are worse than the browns and jags? One of them who is actually a contender to make the playoffs?!?!?!

  57. teambolt5000 says: Jul 8, 2014 3:13 PM

    I didn’t think Whisenhut was the best choice for the Chargers OC. He’s more of HC and with him the Titans should be playoff bound.

  58. clbrwns says: Jul 8, 2014 3:29 PM

    LOL… I guess my Browns will be number 1 then.

  59. djscottyb says: Jul 8, 2014 4:57 PM

    Even though the Dolphins still make me, Hootie and the rest of the Blowfish cry – this team deserves to be ranked below Miami – rebuilding with a good corps of coaches, retraining Jake Locker and losing solid vets like Verner and CJ2k.

  60. banlarson says: Jul 8, 2014 7:09 PM

    This is about where Green Bay would live without Superman at QB. Keep talking trash Packer fans, everyone knows you have a one player team.

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