The Tennessee Titans finished the 2011 season with a gutsy win over AFC South Rival Houston and did all they could in the final week to earn a playoff spot. However, too much help was needed and the Titans put themselves behind the eight-ball with questionable losses throughout the season.
Included in those losses was the first win for the win-less Indianapolis Colts. So where do the Titans stand now? What did we learn? And what can we expect moving forward in 2012?
1. Mike Munchak is the coach of the future
After troubles surrounded the Titans in the offseason including running back’s Chris Johnson’s holdout, Munchak was able to lead the Titans to their first winning record since 2008. At 9-7, the Titans showed signs of greatness along with signs of confusion as the entire staff became accustomed to working with one another.. Munchak made it very clear after that he is in Tennessee for the long haul after turning down a head coaching position from his Alma Matter Penn State.
“Who would give us a chance to be 9-7? Munch is building something great here, and everybody wants to be a part of that,” said fullback Ahmard Hall.”
The respect shown from players around the Titan organization exemplifies the character that Munchak has, and his understanding of the process that needed to take place this year and in the future. Munchak took over a 6-10 team that nearly lost it’s starting running back due to contract issues. The quarterback position was in question and he was able to bring in a veteran quarterback who thrived for most of the season.
Munchak looks to be the future, one that is getting brighter every day. It’s hard to see the light at the end of tunnel for many after missing the playoffs yet again, but an NFL franchise is no easy thing to turn around.
2. Jake Locker will compete with Matt Hasselbeck for the starting job
1st round draft pick Jake Locker was not expected to compete for the starting quarterback position at any time in this season but he shined when given the opportunity. In limited time in 2011, Locker was able to move the Titan offense consistently and now has a full offseason to learn the Titan offense. If Locker is ready to take the reigns of the starting position, says Munchak, it will become obvious during the offseason.
Chris Johnson came into camp late, the entire coaching staff was new, and it showed on the field early in the season. The Titans ranked 31st in run offense with under 90 yards per game. With Chris Johnson healthy and inspired, look for a complete turnaround in 2012. Also, a defense ranked eighth in points allowed per game will be able to put the pieces together with a full offseason and figure out how to stop the run.
“We were limited in what we could do because guys were learning it on the run,” Cortland Finnegan said. “That’d be huge for this defense.”
In 2012, the Titans will be coming off a long offseason that will allow defensive coordinator Jerry Gray to evaluate his talent and find the right pieces to fit into the scheme.
4. Kenny Britt was missed
In the first two games of the season, Britt led the team in receptions and hauled in three touchdowns and over 135 yards in both games. Britt is an explosive threat that will allow whoever is under center to stretch the field while giving more room for Chris Johnson in the box. Damian Williams emerged throughout the season and proved that he can be a comparable number two receiver. Tight end Jared Cook Jr. was also a bright spot late in the season as the rookie showed his speed and athleticism and the position that can provide a safety blanket for Hasselbeck or Locker.