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Tennessee Titans: Five Players Who Will Decide The 2014 Season

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A look at five players who will likely shape the Titans 2014 fortunes.

Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports

Firstly, before we begin, I would like to clarify what this list is. It is not a shortlist of the Titans best players, but rather a look into those players who have the X-factor that could send the team over the edge, or heavily aid in their failure. There is always a few figures, each season in the NFL, that decide the fortunes of their franchises for good or bad. We'll start by counting down from five, and reveal a new player each day.

# 5 Zach Brown

Zach Brown will end up playing a major role in the fortunes of the 2014 Titan. While he has been pegged as "under the gun" by the new coaching staff due to what they saw on tape from late last season, Brown opened camp as the starting ILB next to Wesley Woodyard. The Titans simply don't have a defender on the roster who can do all the things Brown can do. His borderline freakish size and speed combination gives the Titans defense a new dimension, especially when factoring in his abilities as a pass rusher. When he's "on", he's maybe the most athletic interior linebacker in football. There's no denying that fact.

The Titans need his ability to play as a sideline to sidelines defender, who can play coverage as well as blitz the quarterback. When Brown is playing well, the defense responds. During the late stages of the 2012 season and early 2013, Brown helped the Titans to big victories with him play. During that span Brown was employed effectively as a pass rusher, notably in wins over the Jets in late 2012, and the Steelers in 2013. When Brown faltered later on in the year due to, what I believe, was a total trust breakdown with the coaching staff, the defense as a whole suffered and the Titans failed to notch important late-season wins.

Career Stats

Year

Tackles

Sacks

Interceptions

Fumb

Misc

Year

Team

G

Solo

Ast

Total

Sack

Yds

Yd/Sk

Int

Yds

IntTD

Rec

TD

Frcd

Pass D

2012

TEN

16

68

25

93

5.5

28

5.1

3

156

2

2

0

1

5

2013

TEN

16

72

19

91

4.0

26

6.5

1

3

0

1

0

1

5

As I mentioned earlier, Brown was inconsistent as the year went on. He was employed as a pass rusher more infrequently, leading to his freelancing. This in turn ended up with his immediate benching. Brown has apparently showed up to camp with an improved attitude, and why wouldn't he? He has an entirely new, and few would argue, more qualified coaching staff, and has been bumped inside in Horton's new 3-4, which is a marriage made in heaven from the outside looking in.

Brown has made a strong impression early on in training camp, snagging an interception and delivering plenty of hits. For a guy who came into the league attached at the hip to questions about his physicality, Brown has done plenty to shed that image.

One thing that is evident is that Brown is capable of winning football games for the Tennessee Titans. The biggest question will be if the Titans get the Brown from early 2014, or late 2014. Because what they get may well decide if the Titans win a crucial game or two and sneak into the playoffs, or miss the post-season for yet another year.