With the Houston Texans and Indianapolis Colts on the rise, the AFC South has become one of the toughest divisions in the NFL. Though the Jacksonville Jaguars still seem hopeless, Houston and Indy look like annual contenders. So where does this leave the Tennessee Titans in 2013?
Following Chris Johnson’s least productive season (even though the 27-year-old still rushed for more than 1,000 yards) the Tennessee Titans knew they needed to make a change come 2013. By signing free agent guard Andy Levitre and drafting Chance Warmack, the Titans immediately bolstered their offensive line in hopes that Johnson would return to his CJ2K form of years past. Tennessee also signed wideout Kevin Walter from the Texans and tight end Delanie Walker from San Francisco to aid in the passing game.
The Titans not only improved offensively but signed several players on the defensive side of the ball as well. Pro Bowl safety Bernard Pollard left the defending Super Bowl Champion Ravens to bring his talents to Nashville while veteran tackle Sammie Hill signed with the Titans after four years in Detroit.
Additionally, the Titans have regained receiver Kenny Britt after several injury-plagued years which should really turn the offensive production, or lack there of, around. With a stronger front line and a relatively young defense, the 2013 Titans seem promising right? Wrong…
In the evolving NFL that has brought us high profile coaches and All-Pro quarterbacks, Tennessee has neither entering this season. Jake Locker has yet to impress in his first few years and Head Coach Mike Munchak is stuck with the guy he went out on a limb to draft in 2011 with the 8th overall pick. Both Locker and Munchak joined the Titans organization in the same year, which has linked them together until their time in Tennessee runs out which could be in the near future.
Munchak was hired after coaching on the Titans offensive line staff earlier in his career behind St. Louis Rams head coach, Jeff Fisher who led the Titans to the 1999 Super Bowl. No such success has stemmed from the Mike Munchak era. However, Munchak is the least of the Titans’ problems at the moment considering Jake Locker can barely spread the ball to the rest of his offense.
In Munchak’s defense, Locker looked promising after college due to his toughness, ability to run the football and leadership qualities. Coinciding with these positive attributes, his accuracy, arm strength and knowledge of the game have not allowed Locker to ease into the role of a starting quarterback in the NFL.
Even with a bright future for this tandem seeming almost impossible, it is difficult to rule out any situation in professional sports. Injuries do occur and teams have off years so who knows, maybe Tennessee will catch a break in 2013. Maybe even Chris Johnson will turn it around and have another 2,000-yard season but unless the stars align for this new-look Titans team, the future doesn’t look promising. This might be the last lap in Tennessee for Munchak, Locker, or both.