Welcome to “Pretty Much Screwed,” our definitive guide to the upcoming NFL season. This team-by-team preview details why your favorite franchise might have to start looking forward to next year — but highlights at least one reason for you to be hopeful. Today: our Rick Chandler explains why the Tennessee Titans are screwed.
There is no head coach in the NFL who I want to see have success more than Mike Munchack. How often do you see a guy spend his entire NFL playing/coaching career with the same organization? Munchack was the No. 1 draft pick for the Houston Oilers in 1982, transitioned into coaching with the Oilers in ’94, and accepted the laurel wreath as Titans’ head coach in 2011. May God have mercy on his soul.
In case you didn’t know, the Houston Oilers became the Tennessee Oilers in ’97, and the Titans in ’99.
Plus, he was an offensive guard — the unsung heroes of any NFL team. It’s the offensive line who should be celebrating any time a “skill” player reaches the end zone, because no team is successful without a superior herd of beef up front. The problem is that OL players are usually too exhausted to dance, as they’ve been doing all the real work.
And speaking of that, the Titans signed the best free agent guard out there, Andy Levitre (Bills), and of course he underwent arthroscopic knee surgery this past Jan., and is reporting soreness this week. They also drafted OG Chance Warmack of Alabama, who many say was the best offensive lineman in the draft. But it’s tough out there for an NFL rookie, so we’ll see.
Reasons the Titans may be screwed:
Chris Johnson felt it necessary to race a cheetah
This occurred last month at Busch Gardens in Tampa, but neither Johnson or the cheetah will reveal who won. It was all for a TV special for Nat Geo Wild’s “Big Cat Week” in November (Devin Hester also participated, and I hear that Cedric Benson showed up and raced a tortoise).
Seeing that cheetahs are the fastest land mammals, capable of reaching speeds of up to 75 mph, and Usain Bolt tops out at about 23 mph over 100 meters, there seems to be little drama in Johnson’s stunt. And what if he were injured and lost for the season? “C. Johnson, PUP, sprained knee while racing cheetah.” But perhaps the cheetah was tranquilized, or made to wear shoes.
At any rate, Johnson is 27, and his speed and abilities are presumably waning. But, he’s never failed to rush for at least 1,000 yards in any of his five seasons with the team (1,243, 4.5 average last season), and the Titans added Shonn Greene and Jackie Battle to provide depth. And with QB Jake Locker’s ability to run, that should give opponents something extra to game-plan for.
The Titans are 0-2, and Akeem Ayers and Kendall Wright are both injured
Wright, who had 626 yards for the Titans in his rookie season last year, was carted off the field during Tennessee’s 27-19 loss to the Bengals last week. The team has not released the results of his MRI. Linebacker Ayers, the team’s leading tackler last season, was also carted off with an ankle injury. Colin McCarthy is nursing a hamstring injury, meaning the Titans might be without two of their starting three linebackers.
They put single-game tickets on sale, and one guy showed up
No, that’s not the fan in the photo just above — that’s the crowd that gathered to watch the fan, who had to be roused from slumber by a reporter after camping out all night to get those coveted tickets. “Excuse me, sir? Sir? SIR (bangs microphone on fan’s head).”
Reporter is Stephanie Langston of WKRN-TV, and the guy’s name is David Cline, who said that he wanted just one ticket to one game. Said he camped out because “I don’t have a credit card.” He was the only fan to show up.
Somewhat hilarious screencap of that moment in main photo above.
Reason they may not be screwed
Their schedule. The Titans play the Chargers, Jets, Chiefs, Rams, Jaguars (twice), Colts (twice), Raiders and Cardinals: fertile ground for seven or eight wins right there. And if they overachieve just a little, could we be talking playoffs? The Titans, after all, derive their name from the Greek elder gods, who ruled the cosmos.
Then again, according to Greek mythology, here’s what led to the Titans being deposed:
Ouranos and Gaia prophesied that a son of Kronos would eventually depose the Titans, and so the Titan-king, in fear for his throne, took to devouring each one of his offspring as soon as they were born. Only Zeus escaped this fate through the intervention of his mother Rhea, who deposited him in a cave on the island of Krete and fed Kronos a substitute rock.
Actual season prediction: 7-9, third AFC South.