For Titans fans it's not hard to relive the days of the past, back when the defense was stinging, our offense was tough, and we dominated the AFC Central. Everybody always points to Steve McNair and Eddie George as the catalyst of those teams, but really it started up front. Guys like Brad Hopkins, Fred Miller, Jon Runyan held down the tackle spots, while Benji Olson, Zach Piller, Bruce Matthews, and later Justin Hartwig all held down the fort for the Tennessee Titans in what many consider their heyday. The years of 1999-2003 were really quite magical for Music City's very own. But then the Titans fell on some considerably hard times, salary cap cuts were aplenty in the state capital, and everybody who had worked to make the Titans a dominating football team was now looking for new jobs.
The Titans were sent into a tailspin, having to rebuild all over again. For every solid piece they gained, your guys like Michael Roos, David Stewart, and Chris Johnson, they gained an equal player who was lazy, didn't want to work, and created a negative stigma about football in this town. We're looking at you Adam Jones, Vince Young, and now Kenny Britt. They played music chairs with the running backs, using guys like Chris Brown, LenDale White, and Travis Henry before finally settling on the explosive CJ2K. And when they had the great line combo and the great running back of Chris Johnson, they ran like they did in the late 90s. Unfortunately Vince Young tapped out at the top of his potential, and the Titans were sent falling back to earth, with a line that was aging for lack of a better term. Kevin Mawae was the main reason Chris Johnson was gaining those big chunks of yards, he held down the fort on the inside and the future Hall of Famer was a leader when the team needed it the most. When he was gone, so was the will to run...and so was Coach Fisher.
Enter Mike Munchak, a yes man who Bud Adams wanted to promote right away. A lot of people thought that with the new regime being a former offensive guard we would see the same smashmouth style we had become accustomed to seeing, alas that was not the case. Chris Palmer came in, talking about the days of the Run and Shoot and how passing centric the new Titans offense would be...it was starting to feel a lot more like the Houston Oilers than the Tennessee Titans. So the boys in two toned blue forgot where they came from, they forgot the hard hitting defense and relying on big plays. They forgot about controlling the clock and T.O.P. They forgot about Tennessee Titans football. Palmer's offense fell flatter than the land in West Tennessee, and he was quickly dismissed in favor of the younger QB coach Dowell Loggains, who promised fans a return to the old. Tight ends would matter again, and so would the running backs. Gregg Williams has returned home, where he will lead a hard hitting Tennessee Defense (along with Jerry Gray of course). So what was left? Free agency.
It came hard and fast, like a steaming locomotive. Insert Andy Levitre into the mix and the offensive line was starting to take shape after being dismantled last year. Roos, Levitre, Velsaco, and Stewart are locked into the fold, leaving only one more piece to be found. A lot of people believe Chance Warmack is the pick that will be coming down very shortly, myself included. Adding a piece like a Warmack would cement an offensive line that can compete for the AFC South Title again, a belt we've not held since the 2008 Titans did it. The defense will add some more pieces in the draft, perhaps a middle linebacker who isn't made of glass, maybe a corner who can lock down receivers, and a SS of the future. We're getting an extra 3rd rounder for Cortland Finnegan leaving us and going to the Rams, which means the pot will be heavy with young talent on the defensive side of the ball. The time is now Titans fans...now is the time to take our claim at the top of the AFC South. It's time to compete, with our in your face offense, and a bad mood defense.
I believe the Titans are back...and I believe they brought this new kind of smashmouth offense with them.