The new Titans Head Coach, Ken Whisenhunt sat down recently with Jim Wyatt of the Tennessean. He spoke about the current state of the team, gave us fans some insight into the directions and opinions of some of the players, and also gave us an idea of his goals to improve the team.
First, Whisenhunt addresses the depth concerns. While QB is always going to be a tough position to recover from after a major injury, there are other spots to improve going into next season. Tight End Delanie Walker as well as Brian Schwenke (before week 1) suffered injuries that put the Titans behind the 8-ball. Without Walker the Tight End position was dormant, and without Schwenke, the Titans were left to toil behind the disaster that was Rob Turner.
"Overall, we’ve got to improve the depth of the football team. You’ve got a couple of injuries and it can compromise your season. We’ve got a good core group of guys, but you’re always trying to get better. There’s a few positions where we have to play better."
The former Arizona decision-maker also gave us an insight (that I am sure you have all already read since it was plastered all over the internet) regarding Jake Locker. While Jake was far from perfect last season, when he was on the field, he showed immense growth from the 2012 season, and that is hard to ignore when going back and reviewing tape. Even when hampered by injury, he made some nice throws to help the team win.
Whisenhunt also chimed in on the artist formerly known as CJ2K, mostly on how the Front Office has yet to come to a decision on what to do with him. The best case scenario would be a restructured deal for the speedy back, but that seems unlikely since it inevitably means taking a pay cut, something CJ has already stated he will not do.
"We’ve looked at both (Chris Johnson and Jake Locker) on tape. A lot of things I’m encouraged about on Jake. I’m very encouraged on how he played before he was injured last year and then in my discussions with him. I know he has the mentality that I like...CJ, I have a lot of respect for him as a football player and what he’s done in this league. That process, we’re in no hurry. We don’t have to make a decision, there’s no deadline. We’re in the process of building our team. No decisions are going to made where we are right now."
I share Whisenhunt's optimism for a strong season next year under Jake Locker. In fact, the head coach has his eyes on the prize, and why shouldn't he? Both the Texans and Jaguars are is a state of disarray, falling well short last season and picking far ahead of the Titans in this upcoming NFL draft. The Colts remain unpredictable and uneven, the dramatic last minute rallies come back to bite teams eventually, no matter how much ESPN loves your QB.
"I’ll never concede the fact, or make a concession that our goal is not to be (in the playoffs) this year. Our focus has got to be improving in a lot of areas, playing better as a team. What I really want to do is get a home playoff game. Win the division and get a home playoff game."
A home playoff game at LP Field...It's beautiful isn't it? I sincerely hope that Whisenhunt and the fine staff he has assembled will be the guys to take us to that dream. With the 2014 season still taking shape ahead of free agency and the draft, I feel an optimism I never felt under Munchak and his rag-tag co-workers, nor even coach Fisher during the latter years of his Tennessee tenure.
Can Whisenhunt get this team to the promised land? I don't know, nor will I know at the end of 2014 (unless we are already there of course!). Building an annual-contender takes time, so I am not expecting any Music City Miracles any time soon, but maybe, just maybe, this team finally has the tool-set needed to build the castle, so to speak. Post-season football seems so very far away, but it all starts here for the Tennessee Titans, and all eyes will be trained on the moves of this first-year staff as they try to get the team into winning form.