It seems to be easier to think of disastrous situations that we have avoided rather than think about golden opportunities that we've squandered. This one is actually way, way more drastic than my first installment ... this one is a real mover and shaker ..
What if the Tennessee Titans had hired Gregg Williams as defensive coordinator in 2009?
Jim Schwartz has left the Titans to take the head coaching position in Detriot. But in this alternate reality Gregg Williams gets a bit nostalgic and goes back to where he had great success earlier in his career. Here's how the dominoes might fall:
- 2009 - The Titans boast a formidable defensive scheme, run by a coach that knows what he's talking about and is able to get the most out of his players. A sound defense that is able to generate turnovers, in combination with an incredible rushing attack managed by Kerry Collins, allows the Titans to get into the playoffs. We're narrowly beaten by the Colts in the AFC Championship game even after knocking Peyton Manning out of the game*. The Minnesota Vikings go on to win Super Bowl XLIV in a romp over the Colts. Brett Favre retires and we never hear about his "cell phone activity."
- 2010 - The Titans are still engaged with their coaching staff as Fisher manages to stay effervescent coming off 3 consecutive playoff appearances. However, Vince Young and Jeff Fisher still clash in this universe; Vince wants to be a starter again, but Fisher has no reason to switch from Collins with his recent success. There is no midseason meltdown ... as a malcontented Young and a 4th round '11 pick are traded to the Eagles for Kevin Kolb before the trade deadline. Kolb will take over as QB1 following Collins' retirement after the '10 season. With a still stout defense, the Titans are able to match Indy's 10-6 record and sneak into the playoffs on a tiebreaker. We're knocked out in the 2nd round by the Patriots ... who then go on to beat the Steelers in the AFC Championship and lose to the Packers in Super Bowl XLV.
- 2011 - After 4 consecutive playoff appearances Jeff Fisher's thrown in Nashville is fairly well cemented. A season removed from a conference championship appearance and a "quarterback of the future" already on roster in Kevin Kolb ... the Titans look poised to compete again. But now this alternate reality is about to start unravelling, if not totally imploding. Looking to bolster his DL, the now autonomous Jeff Fisher drafts Nick Fairley at #8 in the 2011 NFL Draft. Some of you might remember what that universe looked like. After the passing of Mike Heimerdinger, Dowell Loggains is promoted to the offensive coordinator position. Wanting a steady vet presence at WR, Justin Gage is kept on roster while Lavelle Hawkins is given the boot. Once Kenny Britt goes out with a torn ACL, Gage is put back into the starting lineup opposite Washington. Kolb plays decently as he is kept clean and upright with the Titans superb pass blocking, but he's rarely called upon to pass more than 20-25 times a game as Jeff Fisher runs the living hell out of Chris Johnson following his 2011 holdout. CJ sets the NFL record 424 carries and another 1,400 yards to pad his career stats. The Titans miss the playoffs for the first time since 2006 with an 8-8 record.
- 2012 - Gregg Williams, Jeff Fisher and the Titans are caught up in the middle of a huge scandal involving defensive bounties that were operated from 2009-2011. Fisher is suspended a year, Williams is out indefinitely and Mike Reinfeldt is told that, due to his total lack of influence in the organization, he will not be punished. Because of his former experience as a head coach, Fisher appoints Dave McGinnis to run the show during his suspension. Good friend Chuck Cecil is promoted to defensive coordinator, and we finally get to see what his years of tutelage under Jim Schwartz and Gregg Williams has provided .... . ... . . . The Titans forfeit their 2012 first round pick due to the scandal. We go into the '12 season with Kevin Kolb and Rusty Smith at QB. Britt, Washington, Williams and Mariani at WR. Due to his record # of carries in 2011, Chris Johnson tears is ACL during training in the offseason and is out for the year. We feature a linebacking corps of Witherspoon, Barrett Ruud and Gerald McGrath. Cortland Finnegan is suspended for the season for his involvement in bank rolling most of the bounties ... including a $10,000 bounty on Peyton Manning in the 2009 AFC Championship game*. Jason Babin and Kyle Vanden Bosch are put on trial for manslaughter after a locker room video of them eating human flesh wrapped in what appears to be a Jacksonville Jaguars jersey starts circulating the internet.
So what happened with the Saints in the universe? Well they obviously never won the Super Bowl, and after missing the playoffs in '10 and '11 Sean Payton is fired. He lands quickly though, and is up in St Louis having some guy named Chris Palmer orchestrate the "run n shoot" with Sam Bradford, Steven Jackson and their 2012 first round pick, Kendall Wright.