Tennessee Titans season wrap-up
January, 2, 2014
By Paul Kuharsky | ESPN.com
Arrow indicates direction team is trending.
Final Power Ranking: 22
Preseason Power Ranking: 16
Biggest surprise: A team that revamped its interior offensive line and added a free-agent back in Shonn Greene to supplement Chris Johnson pledged a dedication to the run game. But the identity never developed and the Titans finished 14th in the NFL in rushing and didn't have a running back who averaged even 4 yards per carry. Greene got hurt and missed time and threw things off, but that shouldn't have undone the offense. There were too many times when the team needed a tough yard against a good team and declined to do what it said it would: run for it, even against a defense that knew what was coming.
Biggest disappointment: This team did well to stock the roster at receiver, so the combination of pretty good health and pretty good depth meant the free fall of Kenny Britt didn't hurt as much as it could have. But coming out of camp, he looked poised to have a giant year in the final season of his rookie contract. Instead, per ESPN Stats & Information, he dropped 15.2 percent of the 33 passes thrown toward him. That's the highest drop rate in the league for a wide receiver targeted more than 14 times. He said there was a double standard by the team regarding his drops. Maybe it was more like a quadruple standard, considering his drop rate was nearly four times that of Kendall Wright and Damian Williams.
Biggest need: This team overrated its ability to rush the passer. Defensive tackle Jurrell Casey was a force, with 10.5 sacks in 15 games from the inside. But the outside guys were insufficient. They'll talk all day about how close Derrick Morgan gets on a regular basis, but he got only six sacks. The project with strongside linebacker Akeem Ayers moving forward to rush the passer as an end in situations was a failure. He got one sack. The Titans need to sign or draft an edge rusher who can be a difference-maker.
Team MVP: Casey. While there is a good case for Wright, the receiver who was a consistent threat, it's Casey by a nose. He produced 10.5 sacks from a position where double-digit sacks are a rarity. They were especially big considering the lack of help from other rushers. Casey has a swagger and an attitude that the team doesn't have enough of, and he established himself as a lynchpin who needs to be a long-term piece of this defense. His contract runs through 2014, but the Titans should talk extension with him this summer.