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2014 Tennessee Titans: Year In Review

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Hint: It wasn't pretty...

Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Jimmy recently posted an article grading the Titans season; resulting in, deservedly so, a resounding "F". And while I wholeheartedly agree with that assessment, it's time to pick apart what went into this season, from free agency, the draft, the coaching staff changes, etc.

The 2014 Draft

2014 NFL Draft

School

1st

Taylor Lewan, OT

Michigan

2nd

Bishop Sankey, RB

Washington

4th

DaQuan Jones, DT

Penn State

4th

MarQueston Huff, DB

Wyoming

5th

Avery Williamson, ILB

Kentucky

6th

Zach Mettenberger, QB

LSU

The past NFL draft was a productive one for Tennessee, and one of the primary bastions that defenders of Ruston Webster have flocked to. There is no denying that it was a successful group, but you have to take into account the lack of talent across the Titans roster before chocking up the amount of starting snaps this group racked up in 2014. Lewan, Williamson, and Mettenberger were slam dunk picks (it appears), but the jury is still out on Bishop Sankey, who was arguably the most exciting add from the past year. Huff and Jones also look like good players after this season, so this has to be a fairly positive aspect of Tennessee's year. While you can't really get a good grade on a group until they've been around a few years, this facet of the Titans 2014 season looks good early on.

Free Agency

As I elaborated earlier, Ruston Webster's free agency performance this past year was polar to his draft. Almost all the additions were flops; including Michael Oher, Welsey Woodyard, Dexter McCluster, Shaun Phillips, and Al Woods. Not only did this group perform poorly, some (Phillips) didn't even warrant keeping around until the end of the season. Tennessee needs a strong free agency crop this coming off-season to counter a year of bad to kick off the Whisenhunt-Webster marriage.

Roster Management

The Titans' roster didn't change all that much from 2013 to 2014, but the new regime have come under some fire for their roster management this past year. The decision to let Alterraun Verner walk in free agency, as well as the release of Akeem Ayers when the position group was depleted of talent and healthy bodies, calls them into question. As I mentioned above, the team also decided to release Shaun Phillips immediately after learning that Kamerion Wimbley would be out with an injury. Was Phillips that bad that you would rather have Donte Moch and Quentin Groves play instead? Worse yet, was he bad enough that he needed to be released from the squad, despite that fact that the Titans would have to pay him his salary for the rest of the year anyway? Besides the curious and ultimately unsuccessful adds to the roster, this group has a long way to go to wipe the stain of the 2014 season off.

Coaching

With a new regime came new hope for the Titans as far as the play calling and game-plan scheming. What actually transpired was a mess. We can criticize Mike Munchak and his management of the offensive coaching staff all we want, but the sad fact is that the offense under Whisenhunt was no better. Even questionable personnel groupings in relation to down and distance surfaced, such as 3rd and 1 with jumbo personnel, and then running Leon Washington up the middle, ignorant of the masses of injuries along the offensive line. This is but one example (that re-occurred more than I care to research) of the question marks that have to be addressed in Ken Whisenhunt's first season. Perhaps that statement is an indictment alone; shouldn't we be talking about Jason Michaels...you know, the actual offensive coordinator?

The defensive side of the ball holds a little more hope. In my mind, Ray Horton has a better track record than Whisenhunt does, and it's easy to forget that he has been considered for head coaching gigs recently. His 2014 Titans were a mess, a "failure" in his own words. Whether he had the personnel to run his scheme effectively or not, you can't have a group go out there and be as fundamentally flawed as this one was. The lack of gap responsibility was especially disappointing, and is something that the Titans will need to fix for 2015. This should coincide with a massive personnel overhaul on that side of the ball. More guys that fit the 3-4, including a NT  and some true dynamic OLB's, would go a long way. At OLB specifically, Derrick Morgan can't be the answer on his own as he was this past year.

Outlook

The Titans devolved on both sides of the ball in 2014, winning a scant 2 games and going 1-5 within the division, and getting blown out by just about everyone. Even teams like the Giants, who had a terrible year, treated the Titans like a walk in the park. More than this, the squad seemed to have lost any semblance of identity; they couldn't run the ball, they certainly couldn't pass the ball, and they couldn't display the basics of NFL run defense.

The team has never been in a state like it is now, with big questions at every level of the organization. The Titans are coming off by far the worst season in franchise history, and are now tasked with remedying their many ills. Whether Tennessee and their coaches/players/front office can accomplish this in one year (or at all) is a big ask, but it only took them one year to break it, right? Here's to better things in 2015.