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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Titans still in good shape without Peyton Manning signing

The dust has finally settled from the two weeks period coined as Peyton watch and after a serious flirtation with the Tennessee Titans the Denver Broncos emerged to have a new sheriff in town. Titan’s owner Bud Adams threw out every conceivable thing he had at Manning to see what stuck and in the end Manning said thanks but no thanks. Tennessee now has to pick up the pieces and go on about completing the roster for a team that was 9-7 last year just a game away from the playoffs.

So now without Manning coming to town, the money that would have been in his bank account has to go somewhere and with the Titans needing several upgrades on both sides of the ball it would be conducive for them to venture into the free agent market to shore up some of their holes. The Titans have already signed two players in OG Steve Hutchinson and DE Kamerion Wimbley. Both will serve a position of need as Hutchinson, a former All-Pro guard will help open up holes for Chris Johnson and should be an upgrade over the departed OG Jake Scott. In Wimbley they get a 28-year old pass rushing specialist who had 16 sacks over his last two years in Oakland. The Titans ranked next to last in sacks last year with 28 so he adds some needed beef and explosiveness to the defensive line.Tennessee also re-signed Jordan Babineaux and franchised Michael Griffin which help the continuity of the defensive backfield.

Those signings will help but they won’t put this team over the top as a Super Bowl contender. Tennessee still needs to add a few more pieces to put this team over the top especially after losing Finnegan and DT Jason Jones. Undoubtedly the Titans will draft well as they did last year but they also can add a few more players in free agency. There are still a few names out there like WR Braylon Edwards or they could make an even bigger splash by pursuing Steelers WR Mike Wallace. The Titans also are reportedly planning to meet with a pair of cornerbacks in Tracy Porter and William Gay so it appears they are trying get that defense some help

Will it be Hasselbeck or Locker?
The offense is more adjudicated then the defense and should be even better then last year now that Matt Hasselbeck and Jake Locker have experience in Chris Palmer offensive scheme. The one question is who starts at QB next year and from early reports it appears it will be an open competition with Hasselbeck being the favorite to win but Locker could surprise and earn it. Chris Johnson looks to rebound off a disappointing season that saw gain only 1,047 yards on the ground after never rushing for lower than over 1,200 yards his first three seasons. Hutchinson will help in that department as well as the Kenny Britt coming back from injury. He will be able to take the top off the defenses and make sure they don't drop eight or more in the box to stop Johnson.

Furthermore, the AFC South division will be up for grabs this year with last years’s winner Houston appearing to take a step back after losing two of its defensive stalwarts in Mario Williams and Demeco Ryans. Matt Schaub is also coming off an injury and he hasn’t shown to be the most durable guy throughout his career so you have to wonder can he stay healthy all season. The Colts shouldn’t be a factor with Peyton trading one horse for another going to Denver. They will be rebuilding with Andrew Luck for the next few seasons so they shouldn’t be a factor in the immediate future. Jacksonville isn’t a team that strikes fear in anyone’s heart these days. New coach Mike Mularkey has to figure out what he has in Blaine Gabbert and to see if he is the QB of the future for that team. Maybe they swing a trade for Tim Tebow but that won’t affect much besides the buzz factor for them.

In Summarizing, the Titans have a great shot at taking back the AFC South division. The prodigal son Manning decided Denver was a better choice but the Titans are still settled at the QB position. Manning would have been great but without him coming to town the Titans can use the money they have on other key free agents to plug the holes they need. They have already made two solid signings in Hutchinson and Wimbley and are actively pursuing a few other names. If things fall into place and the Titans are able to shore up the defense, then I think they will battle the Texans for the division especially with the Texans taking a few steps back this off-season. We missed out on Peyton but everything still is within reach for this team to make a playoff run with a few upgrades and additions.

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