Half the NFL season has come and gone and the Titans are at an average 4-4. The good news for the Titans is that they have faced a tough schedule, and have only lost to one AFC team. They also have beaten teams like the New York Jets and the San Diego Chargers, who are also in the hunt for a wildcard spot.
The bad news is that every game is a must win now if the Titans want to assure themselves a playoff spot. If the Titans don’t manage a 10-6 record, it will be a tough in for Tennessee.
With that said, here are my midseason grades for the Titans.
Jake Locker is emerging as one of the better young quarterbacks in the league, but his past two games have hurt his stock a little. The Titans need to use the Week 10 game against the Jaguars to ease him back in to his efficient style of play, and an improved running game should help him there.
Offensive line: C-
The Titans are one Rob Turner away from a D here. Michael Roos has lived up to his level of consistent dominance at left tackle, but his counterpart David Stewart hasn’t looked 100% this year. Inside, Brian Schwenke is far-and-away a better center than the Titans have had since Kevin Mawae. Chance Warmack struggles as a pass blocker, constantly catching defenders instead of punching. Warmack has been dominant enough as a run blocker to give him a pass for now, but he needs to improve his technique in the future. Finally, Andy Levitre has been a let down this year, but I know the talent is there. Next year this Titans offensive line will be much better, after a year together, but right now they are not more than the sum of their parts.
Running backs: D
The only thing that prevents this from being an "F" is the game against the St Louis Rams. If the Titans can keep that level of performance up, this grade will probably end up as a high "B’", but injuries and bad play have led to a disappointing year for Chris Johnson and Shonn Greene.
Tight Ends/Fullbacks: A
Stevens has been an excellent blocker, and Delanie Walker has been the moveable chess piece that the Titans thought he would be when they brought him in. The most impressive player of the bunch, is Collin Mooney. Mooney has been an absolute wrecking ball in the backfield, and looks like the best fullback Tennessee has had in a decade.
Wide Receivers: C
Kenny Britt has been one of the biggest letdowns this year. In a contract year where Britt was finally healthy and out of trouble, he hasn’t put it together on the field. But, for every Kenny Britt there is a surprise player like Nate Washington or Kendall Wright. The combination of Washington and Wright have become go-to players for Jake Locker this year, and Kendall is on pace for a 1,000 yard season.
Defensive Line: A-
The Titans defensive line is lacking a premier outside rusher, but the combination of Ropati Pitoitua and Derrick Morgan has been largely effective in the running game. Jurrell Casey has been an "A+" player this year, and might be the first Titan DT in 21 years to tally double-digit sacks.
After a nice start to the season for Zach Brown (Three sacks and a forced fumble in four games) he and the rest of the Titans linebackers have faded into the background. The only thing I can say about the Titans linebackers right now is that they are average. They make the plays they should make, but when they are out of position, don’t expect anything special.
Defensive Backs: A+
Alterraun Verner and Jason McCourty have been the biggest surprises on the Tennessee roster this year. After an abysmal 2012 campaign, no one would have dreamed that the Titans would have two of the top three cornerbacks (according to PFF) both of which were on the Titans roster last year. Moving from the CB spot, the Titans have also made improvements at safety with George Wilson and Bernard Pollard.
Special Teams: C-
Aside from two dropped punts, Brett Kern has been able to pin opposing teams back in their own territory with his booming leg. Rob Bironas has been better than last year but not spectacular by any means, and his best years are probably behind him. Finally, return man Darius Reynaud was given the boot after a terrible year and Damian Williams has looked good in his place.