Despite of just falling short of making the playoffs this season, Titans fans should feel pretty good about going into next season. Many analysts didn’t even think the Titans would have a shot at making the playoffs, but if it wasn’t for a handful of missed opportunities and maybe the worst loss in Titans history to the Peyton-less Colts, the Titans would have been the sixth seed in the playoffs. However, the Titans did not make the playoffs, so all fans can do is look forward to next season. Although the negatives are magnified, there are plenty of positives for Titans fans to take away from this season. Let’s not forget that this season marked a new era in Titans football with a new coach and a new starting quarterback, along with many other new faces and new additions to the team.
Going into the offseason Titan fans have plenty of reasons to look forward to the 2012 season:
1. Full Offseason and Training Camp
Of all 32 teams, the Titans probably could have benefited the most from a full training camp last year considering the team was basically brand new, ranging from the coaching staff to the players on the field. For the Titans, it seemed that for the first half of the season the team was still learning how to play together. With many new faces and schemes put in place, and the lack of a full training camp, the Titans were just thrown out into the season and forced to pretty much “wing it” for much of the first half of the season. Now this year, the Titans will have the benefit of a full offseason and training camp together. This should help out tremendously in all areas of the team, but hopefully for Titan fans the biggest improvement will be seen in the run game.
2. Young Defense with Experience
One of the main positives from this season comes from the play of the rookies on defense. Karl Klug, Akeem Ayers, Jurrell Casey and Colin McCarthy all played big roles for the Titans defense this season. These rookies saw significant playing time all season long making in impact on the field. Titans’ coaches and fans witnessed the emergence of rookie linebacker Colin McCarthy who seems to get better and better every time he steps on the field. McCarthy’s potential seems to have no limit at this point and there is no reason to think that he won’t keep improving and becoming the leader of this defense. McCarthy may be the next Brian Urlacher, or even better.
3. Offseason Acquisitions
Now that Coach Munchak’s first season under his belt he and his coaching staff should have a good idea of what they have in the locker room. Now they must figure out what they need in order to compete for the division and make a run in the playoffs. Look for the Titans to make some moves on their roster in the offseason, more so in the secondary, defensive line and the offensive line, through both the draft and free agency. Safeties Chris Hope and Michael Griffin will probably not be in a Titans uniform next season according to some sources. This will allow the Titans get a couple younger upcoming safeties to go along with Jordan Babineaux. Hopefully the Titans can acquire the necessary pieces to get them back to the Titans defense of old. On the offensive side of the ball the Titans will make some changes to the offensive line in an effort to boost the run game and open up some holes for Chris Johnson.
4. Kenny Britt and Upcoming Receivers
This season Titans fans witnessed a style of play that was different than most Titans teams seen in the past. Because of the ongoing struggles of the run game, the Titans had no choice but to try and win games through the air and they did have quite a bit of success doing just that. This allowed young receivers like Damian Williams, Lavelle Hawkins and tight end Jared Cook the opportunity to prove themselves in the passing game. All of the receivers improved significantly from last year, but most importantly the players and coaches feel that the overall improvement is huge for the confidence of this young receiver group. Oh yea, Titans will have a healthy Kenny Britt too. That alone will have fans excited about next year, especially if he can stay healthy and out of trouble.
5. Full Season under their Belt
Now that the Titans have completed a full season fans should have more hope going into next season than they did coming into this season. Hasselbeck has proved he can still play and he obviously has the leadership skills needed at the quarterback position. It seems to be a great fit for Jake Locker to learn and grow under the veteran. Titans fans have already seen Jake step up when his number was called and one could only imagine that Locker will just keep getting better. Having a complete season in the books will allow the coaches and players time to evaluate their performances as individuals and as a team, ultimately finding ways to get better as a whole in all 3 phases of the game.