- Ken Moll, Scouts Inc.
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As the NFL draft approaches, "SportsCenter" is putting every NFL team with a first-round pick "On the Clock," and Scouts Inc. will break down each team and look at what questions still need answering.
The Titans clearly overachieved in 2007 with an unlikely late-season run, winning four of their final five games, to reach the postseason. Veteran head coach Jeff Fisher isn't content with his recent success, and the team will have a different look in 2008. There has been much discussion about whether or not Vince Young is the best QB to lead the Titans, and despite the public's backing Young, this position may be unsettled until there's some consistency attached to it. There is an obvious need for playmakers on both sides of the ball and the need of an explosive athlete to return kicks for an otherwise solid special teams unit. Second-year general manager Mike Reinfeldt and Fisher have had some time together, and it appears they will be proactive in trying to improve the franchise.
Reinfeldt and Fisher were aggressive in the offseason; the Titans brought in three offensive players who are instant upgrades for new offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger to work with. The additions of tight ends Alge Crumpler and Dwayne Blakley and wide receiver Justin McCareins give Young a few weapons and should improve the passing game. The signing of G Jake Scott strengthens the offensive line. But the Titans' other important transactions involved keeping together the team's core players. Franchising defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth was a key, and re-signing WR Justin Gage helps the offense. Veteran defensive end Jevon Kearse was acquired to help fill a void as a pass-rusher, but it remains to be seen how much he has left in the tank.
There was a huge departure of Titans from last season's roster with four offensive and three defensive players leaving for other clubs. Tight ends Ben Hartsock and Ben Troupe, guard Jacob Bell and running back Chris Brown are gone, but the Titans moved quickly to fill -- and improve -- those slots. Losing a pair of ends and a tackle on defense (Antwan Odom, Travis LaBoy and Randy Starks) maybe reason for concern; Odom and LaBoy combined for a third of the Titans' sacks in 2007. One of the biggest surprises in the offseason was the unexpected firing of highly regarded offensive coordinator Norm Chow. Chow was known as a coach who could adjust to his personnel, get the most out of his players and still be innovative enough to keep defenses off balance. It will be interesting to see what changes are made in this offense heading into 2008.
There still appear to be some holes to fill at wide receiver, and the void left by Odom's and LaBoy's departures needs to be filled. With the best players in free agency all but signed, the Titans will look to the draft to find an explosive playmaker for Young. They will also look defensive end to go opposite Kyle Vanden Bosch. Another question: Will Young bounce back in his third season and show marked improvement from his inconsistent sophomore season? Young threw twice as many interceptions as touchdowns. With a new offensive coordinator, his development remains arguably the biggest question surrounding this team. There has been a lot of activity in Tennessee since the end of the 2007 season. It will be intriguing to see how the club looks once the dust settles.
Scouts Inc. watches games, breaks down film and studies football from all angles for ESPN.com.
16hEric D. Williams
2dSharon Katz & Hank Gargiulo