Stick a fork in them: 2012 Tennessee Titans
- By Marc Sessler NFL.com
- Around the League Writer
- Published: Nov. 6, 2012 at 06:48 p.m.
- Updated: Nov. 6, 2012 at 08:16 p.m.
Let's start at the top. Tennessee Titans owner Bud Adams is watching. Closely.
His team is floundering under a second-year coaching staff coming up short on both sides of the ball. Forget the postseason down on old Rocky Top. At 3-6, coaches and players in Tennessee aren't sure where they'll be a year from today.
What went wrong
It's interesting that the uneven play of running back Chris Johnson receives more attention than the failures of this Titans defense. No ground game can thrive when your defense allows a league-worst 34.2 points per game. The Titans are on track to become just the fourth team in NFL history to surrender 500 points in a single season.
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With the floodgates open, the Titans offense is held hostage, forced to abandon the game plan before a player like Johnson has a chance to settle in.
The problems on defense are immense. The Titans rank 30th against the run and 27th against the pass. They've allowed 30 or more points in seven of nine games. And here's the killer number: The Titans rank 31st in stopping opponents on third down. Opposing quarterbacks are extending drives and seeing zero heat from Tennessee's soft pass rush.
With fantasy football ruling the day, the focus on Johnson's troubles are unavoidable, but he's improved on last year with a string of high-octane performances. Johnson fails too often to hit the hole with purpose, but when he does, he still has the elusiveness and speed to inflict major damage.
To the quarterback position: Matt Hasselbeck can't be blamed for this mess. He's an aging veteran passer who's incapable of carrying a team on his shoulders the way he did with the Seattle Seahawks. The Titans went into the season knowing Hasselbeck might play. He's playing, and the ho-hum results are unsurprising, and that's on Tennessee's front office.
What went right
The Kendall Wright pick worked. When the Titans chose Wright 20th overall, they hoped for a reliable burner to match with Kenny Britt and Nate Washington. Wright leads the team in catches and might be a more dependable weapon than Britt, considering the veteran's shaky health and off-field drama.
Wright -- like CJ2K -- has suffered on this hamstrung offense, but the Titans have passed more than they planned to because they're often playing from behind. Rookie wideouts rarely produce consistently, but Wright is a pleasant surprise and figures into this air attack for years to come.
Jake Locker. It's hard to talk about the Titans taking a step forward when the young quarterback isn't on the field. Locker showed promise last season. He was off to a solid start in 2012, but the separated left shoulder now leaves Locker as a second-year passer with just a handful of starts under his belt.
What still matters
It's important for the Titans to make core decisions about the offense. Is Chris Palmer the right guy at offensive coordinator? Whispers this season suggest players aren't happy with his leadership, and we imagine the fans aren't excited about the product midway through.
What else matters? How about this coaching staff and every player on the roster playing for a job in 2013
What changes are coming
The Titans, in days past, seemed almost content to go 8-8. They won't come close this season. Not with that defense. Not with an offense that can't hold on to the ball or sustain drives while playing from behind.
The Titans showed little direction in Sunday's outrageous loss to the Chicago Bears. Mr. Adams isn't happy, and we expect the transition to cut wide and deep down south.