What a long, strange season it's been.
We started off strong at 5-2, feeling like we could be at least 6-1. We followed up the strong start with our second 6 game losing streak in two seasons. There are lots of things that contributed to this losing streak, including a locker room drama involving the coach and star QB and the loss of one of our best offensive weapons at WR. That said, another collapse and another long losing streak make it clear that this team needs some serious restructuring. We all have an opinion about changes to the coaching staff that need to be made, but we need more than that. While I think the core of this team is talented, some changes HAVE to be made at the player level.
Here is my take on each position:
QB: In a perfect world, Vince Young and Kerry Collins both need to go. Vince Young is clearly very talented, but after this whole debacle following the Redskins game, it's my opinion that he needs to be gone. I realize how controversial this opinion is, and it has been WELL discussed on MCM, so let's just leave it at that. Kerry Collins has played well enough the last few weeks, but he is too old to make it in the NFL. He is the antithesis of mobile, and his arm strength seems all but gone. Without Kenny Britt bailing him out in some key situations, some of his best games this year look much less stellar. Is Rusty Smith the QB of the future? The distant future, maybe. He doesn't seem like he's ready to play, but I do like his attitude. I think Vince Young will be here next year, but it's time to start looking for the QB of the future in earnest, if it's not Rusty Smith.
RB: This is one of the few positions that I wouldn't touch. CJ is the best in the league, Ahmard hall is a good blocking fullback, Javon Ringer is a very serviceable backup. We'll also get another look at Stafon Johnson, assuming his recovery goes well. I wish we had get Blount around, but who doesn't?
WR: Justin Gage has to go. Is there any question about that? I think he's actually contractually obligated to have two big drops per game. It's a shame that we aren't using Randy Moss more, and I would be surprised if we kept him, but at this point, this is one of the most talented groups of receivers we Titans fans have ever seen. Even without Moss, Kenny Britt, Nate Washington, Damian Williams, and Lavelle Hawkins have a ton of upside and talent.
TE: Bo Scaife has to go. He is way overpaid, and has been next to useless this season. Let's give Jared Cook a year to work on his blocking, and make him the starter. He's too explosive in the passing game to keep him off the field any longer. Paired up with our talented young receivers, we have the potential to be a nightmare to opposing defensive coordinators if we can find a QB we can trust.
OL: The offensive line has been bad this year. They were one of the biggest problems, in my mind, during the 6 game losing streak, and why CJ has had such an "off" year, if you can really call it that. The biggest problems occurred in the interior offensive line, and changes have to be made. Eugene Amano is not a usable Center to me, and Jake Scott's play has really dropped off at times, too. Leroy Harris hasn't exactly been good, either. There's not a lot of good to say, here. There needs to be some restructuring here, at least. Hopefully Matthews can develop into a good Center and we can draft another interior lineman.
DB: Chris Hope is the obvious choice to go, here. He is having a horrible year. Think Nick Harper circa 2009. Griffin's play took a step in the right direction this year--let's hope he continues to improve. I was a little disappointed with Finny's play a times this year, too. I think the trouble he got into early in the year messed with his head. I hope he can bounce back and have a better year next year, and at the least, I don't think it's time to dump him. The bright spot this year has been the play of the young corners. McCourty has been good ,and ATV is the surprise of the year to everyone outside of MCM. If he keeps it up, he could be a starter for years to come.
LB: I’m not sure who needs to go here, but something’s got to give. This group seems good, but they can’t cover a TE. Tulloch is a very good MLB, I think, but he is a liability in coverage. McGrath has a lot of upside and has played very well at times, but again, looks lost in coverage a lot. Witherspoon was a huge surprise early in the season, and has been a nice player for us, but is probably a stopgap for our next young LB. I'll be looking for Tennessee to fix this position in the draft, most likely on the first day, if possible.
DL: I like the unit as a whole, when they’re healthy, but that’s seemingly so rarely the case. No one necessarily needs to be dumped, but the team needs to add some pieces to work long term. If the current staff sticks around, the defense goes the way of this unit. When they are playing well, the whole defense plays well. When they are beat up, tired, and not getting to the QB, the whole defense suffers. The return of Captain Morgan will help, but the more bodies the better, in our current system.
ST: Bironas is one of the best, Kern has been a good punter this year, Mariani was one of the best return men in the league this year. No huge problems with ST this year.
Feel free to agree, disagree, call me stupid, etc. My one request is that if there is any significant amount of discussion, let's try to NOT make it centered around Vince Young and Jeff Fisher. We've had that debate.