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Are the Titans a viable long term asset worthy of investment or a scarlet letter around everyone's necks?
With the 2012-13 season ending with a thrilling and noteworthy Super Bowl, it's time to look at the state of the franchise in a similar vein to the President's annual state of the union address every January. This is just a preamble to the long and arduous offseason process that will get going in a few short weeks. Let's begin with the front office.
The front office as a whole did a good job of identifying talent in the draft and free agency. Their biggest and most blatant failure was giving Michael Griffin that big bucks contract extension during training camp when clearly they weren't in danger of losing him. The second move they made in free agency was to bring Steve Hutchinson, which was a highly praised signing at the time, turned out to be a bust of decent proportions. Of course, the Bud Adams ordered Peyton Manning saga played a factor in the front office's inability to get anyone else of note (i.e a competent, breathing, living center) but not as much of one as many think. Perhaps the drama was a fortuitous blessing in disguise as Kamerion Wimbley was signed instead of Mario Williams for a significantly lower cap hit (certainly a wise move given the cap troubles of some teams) and better production. The center problem worked itself out when the targeted free agents went down hurt elsewhere and Fernando Velasco played better than expected. The firing of Bud spy Mike Reinfeldt surely sent a shot across the bow that complacency won't be tolerated nor failure to adhere to Bud's wishes. GM Ruston Webster and company have their work cut out this year to find the necessary talent to turn around a rudderless and arguably captainless ship.
In short, they were a miserable failure. Mike Munchak has shown why he's no better than an interim coach much like Romeo Crennel. My comparison of Munchak to Art Shell is very apt and on the money. They both have similar Hall of Fame resumes and distinct lack of emotive capability nor the intestinal fortitude to make changes on game days. The indictment of this inability to make in game adjustments is a far reaching one, not just Munchak, but it's on the coordinators as well. Departed OC Chris Palmer and newly promoted Dowell Loggains showed a staggering amount of failure and repeatedly went away from what worked to force unsuccessful plays down the players' throats. It was almost like they were pushing the agenda that they forced the players to assimilate instead of tailoring to their strengths. Jerry Gray for all his warts, was the most successful in turning his unit around based on schematic changes. Ultimately I have zero faith in this staff to turn it around. Making changes to this failure of a staff is like putting lipstick on a pig. It's long past due to clean house completely and start fresh.
Unfortunately the injury bug struck the Titans at an unprecedented catastrophic rate, robbing them of much valuable reps together. The indirect root of the issue is how the training staff prepares the players during OTAs and training camp. Many don't give credence to this but it plays a vital part in how the season goes. Jake Locker, clearly hampered by injury and absurdly turrible playcalling, regressed to his poor college form. It's unpredictable that if he can be rescued or deemed a bust of the Joey Harrington caliber. Based on recent trends and this incompetent joke of a staff, the latter seems more likely than the former. Chris Johnson rebounded somewhat after a horrible 2011 but had a hell of a time getting there thanks to injuries to the OL and lack of any threatening passing game. Kenny Britt was well, not on field Kenny Britt but as per annual tradition, the off the field moron Britt came back to play (allegedly). Defensively, there were flashes of something good there with the pass rush being improved immensely with the addition of coach Keith Millard, Kamerion Wimbley and the return of Derrick Morgan. The defense was done in by the fact that alleged defensive general Colin McCarthy was always battling injuries and the secondary was beyond awful. I can see some flashes of what could be special with the younger players but as a whole, it's not looking good.
This offseason is the most crucial in many Titans' careers, be it the coaches, front office, and players. It will determine if the 2013-14 season is a similar disaster to years past or something new and progressive. Bud isn't getting any younger and the playoffs much less winning the division are nothing but a pipe dream at this point. I want to believe in the Titans but the coaching staff makes me feel so pessimistic and apathetic to the cause (Titans fever, I know). The front office should have fired the coaching staff and started anew. It will truly be sad to see LP Field devoid of Titans fans and instead a virtually empty wasteland where opposing fans can enjoy victory after victory over the hapless Titans.