NFL Analysis: No Air Support In Tennessee

It seems like the Tennessee Titans were a lot worse than 6-10 in the 2012 NFL season. This was a team that did very little well, save for running the ball. But when you have a team that falls behind constantly, a power running game can’t be utilized all that often. Is there any hope things can turn back upward for 2013?

I wasn’t sold on Jake Locker in college, wasn’t sold on him as an NFL draft pick, and now entering his fourth year at the pro level, I’m no closer to getting sold. Locker throws too many interceptions, can’t complete a decent percentage of his passes, nor can he make plays down the field. That covers…well, pretty much everything in the job description.

Any defense of Locker would have to be premised on the fact that his receivers are average at best—Kenny Britt and Nate Washington are okay on the outside, but there’s no good third receiver and no viable target at tight end. Nor are the Titans all that good at keeping Locker upright.

Tennessee finished 10th in the league in yards-per-carry, and Chris Johnson has looked good in the preseason. But the Titans were only 26th in rush attempts, a direct consequence of having to play from behind. That’s the problem with building an offense around the run when you can’t defend the pass.

The Titans have some good playmakers on the defensive end, and that includes in the secondary. Jason McCourty on the corner and Michael Griffin at free safety each have a good nose for the ball, but it’s primarily in run support. I like players like this, but I am also reconciled to the fact that they came into the league about four decades too late.

Any hope for better defense has to be premised on a better pass rush. The Titans have a coalition of above-average pass rushers in ends Derrick Morgan and Kamerion Wimbley, along with linebacker Zach Brown. But they need a lot more to cover for a substandard secondary.

Tennessee’s expectations are modest in Las Vegas, where the Over/Under win prop is posted at 6.5. I’m still going Under. I can’t see this team exceeding last year’s win total. There are decent individual pieces to work with, but given that TheSportsNotebook’s NFL analysis is not sold on Locker, head coach Mike Munchak or anything associated with the passing game on either side of the ball, that points to another poor season. 

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