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John Clayton's Look Ahead

John Clayton is already looking ahead to the 2007 NFL season.  He has a blurb on all 32 NFL teams.  Here is his take on the Titans:

The Titans have the look of a playoff team next season, as Vince Young went 8-5 down the stretch. They have several free agents, including wide receiver Drew Bennett, halfback Chris Brown, defensive tackle Rien Long and defensive end Robaire Smith. Jeff Fisher has turned this team around. Young went to the Pro Bowl and should get better next season, as he will open the year as the starting quarterback. Plus, Fisher will try to improve the talent level at receiver. Fisher's biggest task, though, is improving the defense. This is a young unit still struggling for an identity. Young helped make the Titans competitive. It's up to the defense to take the team to the next level.
I agree that it is up to the defense at this point.  The offense will be there, assuming some WR help is added.  The real question marks come on defense.  The defensive line must be improved.  This should be priority #1.  

What should they do?

It has to start with an improved pass rush.  There needs to be a presence opposite KVB.  Last year he was double teamed on virtually every pass play.  A good rush end on the other side would free up KVB to make plays like he did in 2005.

The Titans should re-sign Robaire Smith.  He doesn't put up numbers that jump off the stat sheet, but he is a good veteran presence to have in the middle of the line.

Improving the pass rush will help the secondary immensely.  Don't get me wrong, Reynaldo Hill and Lamont Thompson are not very good, but their problems wouldn't be as glaring if the opposing QB didn't have all day to throw.  

Having said this, it is never a bad thing to add a shut down corner.  If the Titans could line up with a Nate Clements or Asante Samuel, both of whom are free agents, opposite Adam Jones the defensive possibilities would be endless.  It would free up LBs and safeties to do a lot more blitzing than in the past couple of years.  

Free safety is obviously a position that needs to be upgraded.  If the Titans spend a lot of money on a shut down corner, Calvin Lowry or Vincent Fuller should be able to fill the void.  With two shut down corners and Chris Hope already in the secondary, the responsibilities of the free safety are diminshed quite a bit.  

If I were the GM, I would focus on signing one of those corners, and not spend a lot of money or an early draft pick on a FS in the offseason.