AFC South: Shonn Green
It’s a lot more believable when it happens early in free agency, when he was choosing from a much bigger list.
The Tennessee Titans have traditionally sat back, let the market set itself, then reacted as members of the second phase of player acquisition.
Not this time.
General manager Ruston Webster and coach Mike Munchak introduced four players signed within a day of the start of free agency at a news conference Wednesday evening -- guard Andy Levitre, tight end Delanie Walker, defensive tackle Sammie Lee Hill and running back Shonn Greene.
A bit after that ended, Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean reported that the team had a deal with linebacker Moise Fokou as well.
The low-key Webster said he has been thrilled with the way things have played out.
“Coming off that 6-10 year, we needed to be aggressive,” he said. “[Titans owner Bud] Adams gave his blessing and allowed us to be aggressive. It was actually fun to set a plan and just go do it. We had a lot of meetings just setting this plan together, and these are the guys we targeted. To be able to go out, set your plan, go be aggressive and then get the guys that you targeted, that feels real good.”
I’m going to guess all four of the guys at the news conference accepted contracts with the Titans in part because they offered the most money. But beyond money, guys love to feel loved. And Webster did a good job with that.
Levitre, Walker, Hill and Greene all indicated that the Titans were first to express interest, and didn’t back down or disappear like some other teams might have.
“When I talked to coach on the phone, he sounded very sincere in everything he wanted me to do here,” Greene said. “I just think it’s a perfect fit, not to mention that they were the first people to reach out during free agency, and when you get that, you can’t describe it. A lot of teams say this, that and the other, and then you don’t hear from them. But Tennessee stuck with me, that was my main thing.”
Tidbits from Munchak on his new guys:
- He said a good guard such as Levitre generally plays his best around years five, six, seven and eight of his career; Levitre will be entering his fifth season.
- Hill can cave the pocket in, and Munchak said based on first-hand experience as a guard, that is incredibly frustrating. That sort of push creates problems for interior linemen and making edge rushers more effective.
- While Greene will clearly have a narrow role in an ideal game plan, Munchak emphasized he can play all three downs.
- In Walker, Munchak said in a not-so-veiled shot at departed Jared Cook, the Titans get a tight end who can move around, shifting from the backfield to inline to the slot as needed.
Thoughts on the Jacksonville Jaguars' 17-10 loss to the New York Jets at EverBank Field:
What it means: The Jaguars allowed Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez to end a stretch of 17 scoreless possessions he quarterbacked en route to a loss that dropped them to 2-11. They remain contenders for both a postseason front office shake-up and for the first overall pick in the upcoming NFL draft.
What I didn’t like: The Jets are far better rushing the ball on offense than passing it, and the Jaguars allowed them to do just that. Bilal Powell turned 19 carries into 78 yards and a score and Shonn Greene took his 20 carries for 77 yards and a touchdown. That meant Sanchez only needed to manage things and he did well enough, completing 12 of 19 passes for 111 yards. Chad Henne had to throw it 43 times and while he made a of couple of big fourth-down conversion throws in the Jaguars' last-ditch drive, the last one resulted in a game-sealing interception when he threw it long and receiver Kevin Elliott broke off his route.
What could have been: Derek Cox forced a Jeremy Kerley fumble after a second-quarter, 7-yard gain and it appeared Dwight Lowery recovered it, got up and went 60 yards up the sideline for a touchdown. But the replay review showed Kerley touched Lowery while he was down. Instead of a touchdown, the Jaguars got four plays and then had to punt.
Impact play: Jason Babin produced a pass-rusher’s trifecta with a sack of Sanchez that forced a fumble that Babin recovered himself. It’s just the sort of thing Jacksonville was looking for when it claimed Babin off waivers from Philadelphia a couple of weeks ago.
One good sign: The Jaguars gave up one 37-yard pass play. Beyond that, they really made the Jets drive the ball, as the second longest play was 14 yards. The Jaguars got only three plays over 20 yards themselves, nothing bigger than Montell Owens’ pretty 36-yard touchdown run.
Big differential: The Jets committed just one penalty for 15 yards while the Jaguars were flagged for seven that cost them 54 yards.
What’s next: The Jaguars travel south for a game at Miami.
And they are about done.
"Other than depth, I don't see anything else happening in free agency," coach Gary Kubiak told reporters over breakfast at the owners' meeting this week. "Obviously, finding a complement to Steve [Slaton] is important. We went the Cedric Benson route [in free agency] and it didn't work out. It's a little nerve wracking, but you can't force something. At least we know we have a good, young one in Slaton. Hopefully, something good will happen there, but, obviously, we have to improve there."
A bigger back should help the Texans in the red zone -- where they ranked 26th in the league in TD production -- and in short-yardage situations, where they need to convert better in crucial spots and would like to limit the pounding on Slaton.
The 5-foot-9 Slaton was listed at 203 last season.
"Obviously, a bigger, more physical guy from a short-yardage and red zone standpoint would make sense," Kubiak said. "But at the same time, I expect Steve to continue to step forward and get better. He ran hard, broke tackles and moved the pile. But, ideally, we'd still like to have a larger back."
Kubiak said in a perfect world, the lead back would get 22 touches, the second guy about 10 or 12.
Where to find the second guy?
"Well, you don't know that until you evaluate the draft and set your board and see how many good ones you have rated to go in what round," Kubiak said. "Then you try to figure out who ahead of you wants one, too. If there are eight backs you really like, then you know you'll probably have to go in the first three rounds to get one. If there are 15, then you might be able to wait until the fourth or fifth rounds."
But to find a guy that fits the "big back" role -- assuming they aren't taking Ohio State's Chris "Beanie" Wells (6-1, 235) at No. 15 -- the Texans may need to spend their second rounder -- No. 46.
Here are the top candidates who fit the bill: