AFC South: Kenny Brott
|Kyle Terada-US PRESSWIRE|
|Tennessee Coach Jeff Fisher stayed with Kerry Collins at quarterback until owner Bud Adams put in a call to switch to Vince Young.|
Where they stand: They’ve been as surprising as any team in the league, and not in a good way. Before these Titans, no team in history had ever followed up a season where it started 10-0 with an 0-6 start in the next one. Things have gotten better in the last two weeks. Even if the turnaround continues, it’s going to wind up being too little too late for a team that came into the season with what seemed like reasonable Super Bowl expectations.
A 59-0 loss at New England qualifies as rock bottom and prompted owner Bud Adams to call for, and get, a change at quarterback from Kerry Collins to Vince Young.
Disappointments: The Titans and Jeff Fisher completely overestimated what they had at the season’s start in terms of the return game and in depth at cornerback. Ryan Mouton’s trouble fielding punts killed them. When a struggling veteran secondary was hit by injuries, rookies Jason McCourty and Mouton were not close to ready to substitute.
A receiving corps including Justin Gage and upgraded with a free agent (Nate Washington) and a first-rounder (Kenny Britt) dropped way too many passes. A Pro Bowl selection in 2008, safety Michael Griffin’s play dropped off substantially.
Surprises: Young had lost the faith of the coaching staff and Fisher fought to keep Collins in the lineup. Still, Young’s been efficient and effective in two games as the starter.
Young’s work, and everybody’s, has been made easier by Chris Johnson. The second-year running back’s been remarkable. Through eight games he is the NFL’s leading rusher, on pace for a 2,000-yard season. And if he maintains it, his 6.7 yards per carry would be the highest by the league’s rushing leader since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970.
Outlook: A 6-10 record now seems possible, and that would be more than enough to ensure Fisher’s job safety as well as a high draft pick. The remainder of the season amounts to an audition for Young, who’s got a $4.25 million roster bonus and a 2010 cap number of more than $14 million pending. They need to decide where they are heading at quarterback.
The team is loaded with free agents to-be like Kyle Vanden Bosch, Keith Bulluck, Nick Harper and Kevin Mawae. Odds are major roster turnover and a big youth movement are on the horizon.
Tony Pierce in Muncie, Ind., writes: Paul, Please remind everyone that the birth of the Colts as we now know them did not occur under Tony Dungy and that his departure while sad does not automatically mean they will miss the playoffs. Bill Polian is the mastermind here and this team actually started down this path of dominance under Jim Mora. Mora took this team to the playoffs twice going 13-3 and 10-6 until the year Edgerrin James went down and then it was 6-10. Jim Mora failed to fire the D coordinator which led to his release and the hiring of Tony Dungy. Yes Dungy continued the winning and helped to build the team to what it is, but they are built to win and Jim Caldwell would have to completely incompetent to mess this up.
Paul Kuharsky: You're right, Tony. The three staples for a successful team are GM, coach and quarterback and while Polian is more than a GM, he and Peyton Manning are in place and that should ensure stability. Also, it's not like Caldwell is some outsider with a dramatically different philosophy.
Rahul in Houston, Texas, writes: I've been hearing that Rex Grossman has looked better than Schaub and Orlovsky in the opening days of training camp. While I know Schaub's job is safe, the comp between Rex and Dan has to be favoring Grossman at this point. What have you been hearing and seeing?
Paul Kuharsky: I've not been seeing anything yet; I won't be in Houston until Aug. 18.
Orlovsky got three years for $8.5 million. That's a pretty good investment. I don't have the guarantee in front of me, but they like him enough to set the market for backup quarterbacks with that contract. I believe it would take a very poor camp from him and a great preseason from Grossman for them to flip the two on the depth chart.
Robert Vega in Melbourne, Fla., writes: Paul, regarding the Titans wearing the Oilers logo, I think it's an insult to the fans. None of the current Titans fans bled Columbia Blue and filled the House of Pain (with the exception of those who sold out their city to follow the team to Tenn). The majority of the Luv ya Blue fans are now Texans fans and it's a slap in the face to see those jerseys in another city. While it's been a while, the wounds that Bud Adams inflicted on the city of Houston still hurt. While I have since moved away, I still keep an Oilers helmet in my living room, but I will take it down on the days the NFL allows the Titans to desecrate those beloved uniforms.
Paul Kuharsky: I understand your feelings on the matter. But like it or not, it's not about the cities, it's about the owner.
Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky
- A Richard Justice tweet from about 10:30 a.m. CT: "Texans appear to have suffered first significant injury of camp this morning when C Chris Myers was helped off the field with a leg injury." I've seen nothing further. (He's @richardjustice.)
- Jerome Solomon looks at the story of long shot cornerback Mark Parsons.
- Andre Johnson can get even better, says Jordan Godwin.
- With Chester Pitts recovering from a shoulder issue, Kasey Studdard is getting a chance to show he can play with the starters, writes John McClain.
- Clifton Dawson and Aubrey Bell were cut, says Alan Burge.
- McClain on Glover Quin.
- Bob Kravitz believes while national people predict a fade, the Colts are actually a better team than they were a year ago. I'll co-sign that sentiment.
- Mike Chappell runs down the competitions to watch at camp.
- Big contact this morning beat heavy rain, says Chappell.
- Peyton Manning didn't look left enough for Reggie Wayne at an early practice, writes Chappell.
- John Oehser reviews the first day of camp.
- Chappell takes questions on Raheem Brock, Donald Brown, Mike Hart and Antoine Bethea.
- Phillip B. Wilson writes about Tuesday's morning practice.
- Jack Del Rio has a survivor mentality, says Gene Frenette.
- The Times-Union's camp observation deck is open.
- John Henderson intends to re-emerge, says Vito Stellino. "I remember it was fun," Henderson said. "We were out there running and jumping and dancing and doing all that great stuff. That's what it was about. I really want to get back to it." Good first steps: hearing him say the right things and reporting at the weight the team wanted.
- The development of the core players will tell the Jaguars' story according to Del Rio, writes Michael C. Wright.
- Vic Ketchman sees Mike Ditka in Tim Tebow.
Texans brass deserves credit for getting the rookie deals done, says McClain.
Bob McNair talks, and Alan Burge links to it and comments.
Chris Brown has tried to get his body ready, says Jordan Godwin.
Bob McNair says he's pleased with the work Gary Kubiak is doing, writes Godwin.
Up close with center Chris Myers, from John McClain.
Burge's Day 2 practice report.
Peyton Manning is looking forward to getting back to a training camp routine that was interrupted by his knee injury last year, says Mike Chappell.
Fili Moala and Austin Collie are signed, leaving only Donald Brown without a deal, says Chappell.
A Colts camp guide from Phillip B. Wilson.
Five keys to Colts training camp.
The Colts to-do list, from Tom James.
Michael C. Wright ponders the Jaguars post Fred Taylor.
The Jaguars prefer "retooling" to "rebuilding," says Vito Stellino.
If the Jags bounce back, the rookies will have a lot to do with it.
Wright looks at the team's three new veterans.
New assistants help change the vibe, says Wright.
A look at Jacksonville's undrafted rookies, from Stellino.
A look at the subtraction part of the addition by subtraction equation, from Stellino.
Embrace the freshness, says Gene Frenette.
Less LenDale White could mean more production for the Titans run game, says Jim Wyatt.
Kenny Britt has a contract, says Wyatt.
Highlights of Day 2 in Titans Radio's podcast.
David Climer looks at an older Jevon Kearse.
McClain's blog on Casey, which includes some good links.
Reliant Stadium's name appears to be safe for now, says Alan Burge.
A rundown on the Colts' undrafted free agents, from Mike Chappell.
Jim Caldwell says it's about more than size on the interior defensive line, writes John Oehser.
Caldwell's first impressions of the rookie class on the field, from Oehser.
Freddy Keiaho's role is TBD, says Oehser.
Rookie uniform numbers, courtesy of Oehser.
Gene Frenette says the Jaguars must repair their defense first.
Some at minicamp don't even rank as undrafted rookie signees yet. They are just vying for a spot, writes Wright.
On first impression, Cook was as impressive as Britt, blogs Wyatt.
Learning the system is a rookie's major hurdle, writes Gary Estwick.