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Tuesday, January 4, 2011

2010 Tennessee Titans Year In Review

The Titans ended their disappointing roller-coaster season with a loss to their bitter rival the Indianapolis Colts, on a last second field goal. The win vaulted the Colts into the playoffs as the division winner of the AFC South and sent the lowly Titans home for the season. The Titans had a reversal of fortunes this year as they started hot out of the gates at 5-2 and leading the division. That is a stark contrast from last season’s 0-6 debacle. They also landed hall of fame talented but mercurial wide receiver Randy Moss off waivers from Minnesota. Even after losing to San Diego before their bye week, all signs pointed upward as the Titans. Vince Young was playing his best football ever in a Titans uniform as his stellar 103.1 QB rating trailed only Michael Vick in that department. Kenny Britt’s breakout performance against the Eagles (7 catches 225 yards and 3 touchdowns) had everyone gushing and projecting him on a path of stardom. Chris Johnson wasn’t on pace for his self projected 2,500 prediction but still was 5th in the league with 721 yards. The defense was boasting a league leading 25 sacks and was overachieving as a unit.

Be that as it may, No one could have predicted the way the wheels would fall off in the second half of the season. The Titans started what would turn into a six-game losing streak by losing to San Diego. The game that changed the team dynamic though would have to be the loss to Washington. Vince Young’s meltdown overshadowed the game as he would loss his cool with Head Coach Jeff Fisher and the fans at LP field. Fisher would not give in to Young’s request to go back into the game after seeing him make throws on the sidelines. Young responded was seen waving his arms at the crowd, throwing his helmet and shoulder pads in the crowd after the game and mumbling words at Fisher post game speech just to name a few things. Young would later apologize for his actions but the damage was already done. He was also put on injured reserve due a tore ligament in his thumb. In my game review I recognized that this incident could only lead the team in one or two directions. It could have galvanize the team and bring them together like never before or Young’s insubordination could cause a rift with teammates taking sides. It’s not hard to see which of the two that happened.

The team never seemed to recover from the Young-Fisher fiasco and things went from bad to worse. The newly acquired Randy Moss could never seem to find a rhythm with his new team. There is no way a player of his caliber should have only 6 catches for 80 yards no touchdowns and not even TARGARTED in some of those games. I’m just not sipping that Kool-Aid Jeff Fisher was making as he stated that Kenny Britt and Moss played the same position. It has to be a way to get both of those guys on the field. After rushing for over a hundred yards in the first two games after the bye week, Chris Johnson’s numbers declined and he had his worst game ever as a pro rushing for just 5 yards against a relatively soft Houston Texans squad. That game also featured the Finnegan-Johnson fight that ended up with both players being ejected. The incident was yet another sign of the team unraveling right before your eyes.

Despite racking up losses, the Titans still had an outside chance at winning the division. The Thursday night showdown with Peyton “The Sheriff” Manning and the Colts would be Tennessee last realistic chance to make a stand for the season. The Titans came out and showed some of life but were not able to come out with the win. The lost put them at 5-8 and with no real chance of making the playoffs. The Titans would finish out the season going 1-2 over their next three games, including the nail-biting loss to the Colts. If there was ever a season for the Titans to win the division, this was it. The Colts struggled and the Jags did their inevitable last season swoon but the Titans were no where to be found in the race.

To put this season in perspective is a complicated thing to do. It will be a season defined by turmoil and unrealized expectations. This was suppose to be the year it all came together for Vince Young but it quickly turned into a nightmare for him. Jeff Fisher future is up in the air and owner Bud Adams has to make some tough decisions moving forward. Talent wise, this should have been at least a playoff contending team at worst. The Titans never seemed to be able to move forward after the Young-Fisher confrontation. In a year of defining moments, that will definitely characterize Tennessee’s 2010 year. The Titans walk away from this season with more questions than answers, which is never a good thing. For the longest tenured coach in the league this had to be Jeff Fisher toughest year. He bore the look of a man defeated at the end of the season and maybe he will make the decision for Adams and just walk away. Vince Young’s tomfoolery has to be accounted for in some way as well. Bud Adams never chose sides in the incident and many believe that those actions created a wound to Fisher’s locker room authority that can never be healed.

Change is in the air for Tennessee and it’s quite obvious that some is needed. How much change will happen is another question. The Titans franchise has been one of the most stable in the league. Will Bud Adams roll the dice and shake up the redundancy and mediocrity that surrounded his team this year? How will the team respond if Vince Young or Jeff Fisher are let go? If Fisher is not retained, who takes his place? Do they go after a future QB in the upcoming draft? Speaking of quarterbacks, how much longer does Kerry Collins have left in the arm? Would Randy Moss even consider staying with the team, after being made a decoy for most of tenure? How healthy will offensive coordinator Mike Heimendinger be after his cancer diagnosis?

This much is for certain, the Titans in some form or fashion will enter next year with some changes in place. Those changes will take place right in front our eyes over the next few months. Hopefully those changes will make for better results next year. This should be considered a lost year for the Titans.

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