Ah yes...it's almost here. You know the new NFL season is rapidly approaching when the annual pre season power rankings are released. Pro Football Talk, a credible source, just released it's rankings....and Tennesseans had to run their pointer finger way down the list before they landed on their beloved Titans.
30th to be exact. And for the casual fan, there are only 32 teams in the league.
Naturally, Titans fans flooded local sports talk radio stations today to voice their displeasure. After all, Tennessee hasn't had a top 5 pick in almost a decade. And sure, you won't mistake the Titans for the Patriots, but they certainly aren't NFL vulture food either. 30th is way too low right?
We have to remember, this a pre season ranking...for the 2014-15 season only. And coming into this season, the Titans have more question marks than the Riddler.
For starters, there has been a complete overhaul on the coaching staff. Tennessee will not only have to learn a new offense (again), but they are also changing from a 4-3 defense to a 3-4 defense. Yes, there has been a huge upgrade at the coaching position....on both sides of the ball. But that's not a tangible change to voters, that doesn't necessarily reap instant rewards.
New head coach Ken Whisenhunt will be given time to place his stamp on this team. But at this point, we really have no clue how...or if it will all come together this season.
Who are they?
They are the key skill position players for the Titans offense this year. Aside from locals, and fantasy football junkies, no one has ever heard of any of these names.
The Titans most recognizable face the past few years is now toting the rock in New York. Say what you want about CJ, but his name alone would've bumped us up to at least....28. And I'm not taking shots at Johnson, I'm just pointing out the fact that the starting offense is a question mark as well. Yes, the players are all talented and capable of getting it done on Sundays. But it's the unknown.
And it's a pre season ranking.
On defense, their best and most recognizable player (pro bowl cb Alturan Verner) bolted this off season via free agency. Which leaves the defensive unit in the same conundrum as the offense...a group of "no name" but talented players adjusting to an entirely new scheme. We have no frame of reference on whether or not a star is on that side of the ball.
Last but not least, the qb position. There is an injury prone starter returning from a season ending injury, and a free agent back up that hasn't played a meaningful down in....in.....
While we wait.
Third on the depth chart is a rookie sixth round pick...not exactly reassuring when your back up played in half the games last year.
People who closely follow the Titans know that we have some talented players, but we were grossly out coached last year. Something that should not happen with this new regime. We know we're going to improve...over time. We just don't know if it will be right away.
30th isn't disrespectful. It's the harsh perspective from an outsider looking in. But it's also an opportunity for Tennessee to play with no pressure, no expectations. Make no mistake about it, there is a rebuilding project going on in Nashville this fall. We're going to have to prove we're better than the third worse team in the league....on the field. And we will...just give it time.
Plus...it's just a pre season ranking.