Now, before we go any further, know this: there are few things I detest more than the annual "well there's always next year!" mantra. It is a stigmatic phrase attached like an urchin to the worst teams in the NFL. Residing in SW Florida, I know that it is basically the law of the league for Buccaneer fans. These guys are so jaded from years of failure, made worse by the odd signs of resurgence (see early 2012), only to again endure the plummet to the bowels of futility. This old adage is an acceptance of failure, and I won't allow the same mindset to infect the mindset of Titans' fans here at MCM.
That aside, what can Titans fans look forward to going into the future? That future has gotten a whole lot more cloudy over the last month and a half. While I am more than ready for an entirely new staff, I don't know yet whether the new ownership is on board. So therein lies question number 1: who will be coaching this squad next year? To me, this mystery alone conjures some sliver of hope that things can change. As has been said many times over the past few weeks, this roster has far too much talent to be losing the games they are.
While many fan bases around the league will always complain that their team's coaches "don't use the players right," or are too old-fashioned, I believe that is true with this particular group. There is little doubt that the Titans coaches are trying to mold a team in their Oiler image without the personnel to fit that style, instead of the other way around. I would have loved to see the offense that Loggains rolled out against the Colts with Jake Locker in the lineup. Fitz did an excellent job, but I think it goes beyond that; this team has the players on offense to run that wide-open attack and it showed. Wright and Walker thrived, and if they committed to running more out of the shotgun, I feel the rushing attack would have been much more potent and less telegraphed. That is a different story altogether though, this is about looking to the future and the reasons Titans fans should be optimistic, and seeing the Titans run an offense that looked like it was borne from this decade did that for me.
Titans fans can also look forward to the future with a roster that is packed with talent. I know some have questioned our evaluation of the players on this team, but there is no doubt that young players like Casey, Verner, and Wright are already playing at very high levels, tops in the NFL as far as ATV and Casey are concerned. On defense, the team also has young guys like Zach Brown, Mike Martin, and Akeem Ayers, as well as talented veterans in Jason McCourty, Derrick Morgan, and hopefully Bernard Pollard and Ropati Pitoitua too. On offense, there is no doubt Delanie Walker is an important piece of this team, and an offensive line featuring Roos, Levitre, Schwenke, Warmack, and Stewart should be much improved in year 2 together. Throw in CJ, Shonn Greene, and Justin Hunter to the mix and it becomes clear that the new staff (fingers crossed) is going to have plenty of shiny toys to work with, and it will be fascinating to see what they come up with. I look to the Chiefs, who most definitely had the talent in past two seasons, but now, with the right staff under Andy Reid, are getting the most out of it.
While the 2013 playoffs is still technically within reach, I am not going to hold my breath. Instead, I am going to look for the individual growth of the players on this team, especially the young guys like Hunter and Warmack, and even Zach Brown and Coty Senabaugh. Then there is Locker's return next season to look forward to as well. I am not giving up on this franchise, and while I am beyond pessimistic at this point in regards to this season and this coaching staff, I hold hope at heart that this team can make a quick turnaround. After all, "there's always next year."