Oh, what a difference a CBA makes.
The Tennessean's John Glennon has a lengthy piece up about the eagerness sweeping through Baptist Sports Park for an offseason where players, coaches and trainers can actually speak, workout and instruct in a way the lockout prevented them from doing last offseason. After a nearly 100% turnover in the coaching staff, schemes and QBs, the Titans had to jump headlong into 2011 scrambling to get players as acquainted as possible with their new assignments and responsibilities. On top of all of that internal shuffling, you had free agents and rookies thrown into the mix without any chance to build chemistry and familiarity like they normally would.
Now, there are a lot of great things said by some of the major Titans figures in this piece, but one comment by Mike Munchak went down like ipecac:
Titans Coach Mike Munchak said he's most eager to see the impact a full offseason will have on the team's linemen. The offensive line excelled in pass protection this season but took part of the blame for a poor rushing attack, while the defensive line finished second-to-last in sacks.
"When people always ask me who the lockout hurt the most, to me it was the linemen, especially when you have offensive linemen that together play very well," Munchak said. "I think when all of the sudden they are not together anymore and they are not working out together and are not doing plays together in April, May, and June, it makes a big difference and I think that affected us as a group. Even with the defensive line, it's the same way."
Deep breaths, people.
Now, Jake Scott has to be gone no matter how Munchak and Bruce Matthews evaluate him. I don't think I've ever seen an NFL player take the level of pay cut Jake Scott would need to take to stay with the Titans. He made $4.7 million in base salary last year, and lord knows how much in bonus money since it was the last season of his 4-year $19.5 million contract. The problem is, I still seriously believe that we have to change more than just Scott.
You have to remember that Munchak's constant refrain while Fisher was here was about the benefits of continuity when it comes to offensive linemen. The more they play together, the fewer mistakes are made. So when I see a statement like this I get scared that Munch won't make the changes in personnel that group needs to get back to dominating in the running and passing phases of the offense. I get that Amano isn't going anywhere... other than maybe back to guard if a better Center lands in Nashville. Leroy Harris is the guy whose play continues to hold the unit back. He was a little better this season than he was last season, but that's not saying a damned thing considering how awful he was in 2010.
Could I be overreacting out of fear? Sure. But am I really that crazy to be worried?
Whether it's via the draft or free agency, an improvement must be made, but that's going take willingness on Munch's part to give-up on a player he's essentially built from scratch. Will he do it?