Sunday, April 29, 2007

2007 Draft-Titans Second Day Selections

#4-115 Leroy Harris, C/G, North Carolina State
Ok, I think Mike Reinfeldt read my offensive preview and decided to not do anything I thought they should. I mean, I realize they need to replace Kevin Mawae sooner or later. I guess this pick means Eugene Amano goes bye-bye. Yeah, Harris could play either of the guard spots, but Mike Mayock reports consistency issues. Ok, Amano is gone, but the Titans have too many holes to be making what appear to be marginal upgrades like this one.

UPDATE (5/3, 2300 CT): Thanks to SEMoBall for linking to this post. I point you also to this post expressing similar surprise, though Andrew is more conservative than I in predicting Amano's departure. Naturally, I think I'm right, but I've been wrong plenty of times before, and will be again. Two players who are expected to play almost exactly the same position, with very likely only one spot available for said player = out with the old, in with the new.

#4-128 Chris Davis, WR, Florida State
Another body at WR. He has some experience returning punts, but I'd have rather had Ryne Robinson, who went three picks after the Titans took Harris, and G Josh Beekman with this pick.

#5-152 Antonio Johnson, DT, Mississippi State
Hooray, the first pick I don't hate as soon as I hear it. Of course, that's because I don't know anything about him. I don't think I saw any Mississippi State this year (I missed the Egg Bowl, and they sucked), so read this and you'll know everything I do about him.

#6-188 Joel Filani, WR, Texas Tech
What the hell? Seriously, what the hell? I enjoyed watching Texas Tech, just because Mike Leach is awesome. Another body at WR. Filani caught a bunch of balls. Maybe he could develop into the Bobby Wade Role. But they drafted Chris Davis two rounds ago. This is now 10 WRs on the roster, 3 of them drafted this weekend. Unless they're moving to the run-and-shoot, and with Jeff Fisher still the head coach, I'd rate those chances as only marginally better than the chance I get drafted today, there's no way more than 6, 7 tops will make the team. Seriously, this is way worse than last year's draft, when VY and Nande were the only picks I liked.

#6-204 Jacob Ford, DE, Central Arkansas
I admit it, I didn't see Central Arkansas play once this season. As with Johnson, read his profile, and you'll know everything I do. Maybe a special teams guy, or he'll spend a year on the practice squad and see if he turns into something.

#6-206 Ryan Smith, CB, Florida
Ah, Ryan Smith, the old Utah player who followed Urban Meyer to Florida. He took advantage of the new rule that let players who already graduated play immediately, and had a nice impact. So, why's he a 6th round pick? As the profile notes, he's really physically limited. There's a serious concern he's a lot closer to maxxed out his skills and raw physical talent than most other players, and he'll be an athletic liability at the next level. Still, being a competent dime back should be enough to earn him a roster spot on the Titans. In case you can't tell, this is the first pick I liked.

#7-223 Michael Otto, OT, Purdue
I hate to repeat myself, but... What the hell? Seriously, what the hell? Did the Titans not start two guys under age 25 at the two offensive tackle positions, or did I hallucinate through most of last season? Otto was a pure LT at Purdue, and a fine one. He didn't look like a drive-blocking guard to me, and that's what the Titans need, someone to replace Olson. Otto looks he may be useful as an OT backup, but this team has too many holes to spend even 7th round picks on guys who won't play. You've had luck with 7th round DBs the last two years (toast or not, Reynaldo has outperformed 7th round expectations), why not try that again? Of course, it's 7th round, I don't have great expectations or strong feelings as to any specific player the Titans should have picked.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

2007 Draft-Titans First Day Selections

#1-19 Michael Griffin, S, Texas
Well, with Aaron Ross, Chris Houston, Alan Branch, Dwayne Bowe, and Robert Meachem on the board, I expected the Titans to take one of those players with the #19 selection in the NFL draft. And they cross me up. Griffin was a fine player in 2005 for Texas, but was much less impressive last year. And, as I noted in my defense preview, the Titans have a bunch of safeties already. Granted, only one of them is good, and the others looked really bad, but they're at least semi-competent. I'm not so sure they have 3 semi-competent CBs, and I'm pretty sure they don't have 3 semi-competent WRs, or 3 semi-competent DTs, but oh well. Just for the record, I wanted the top CB on the draft, and Griffin ain't it.

UPDATE: I had a dinner to go to, so I'll just do some quick thoughts on the Titans' second and third round selections, and update them later.

#2-50 Chris Henry, RB, Arizona
Chris Henry runs really fast in shorts. That's wonderful. He wasn't very productive in college, and is a classic case of somebody with better measurables than actual football performance. This is a dumb pick. The Titans needed an RB, and Henry's the kind of guy I wanted to see them draft, but not here, not with this pick. Before the Titans would pick again, there'd be a run on WRs and a run on DEs. Seeing what happened, the top DE would have been my pick.

#3-80 Paul Williams, WR, Fresno State
And the run of WRs ends. Between 73-80, 7 WRs were drafted, and the 8th guy was TE Matt Spaeth. Williams is ok, but I would have preferred pretty much any of the 6 previous WRs. I'm not sure he wouldn't have been around when the Titans picked in the 4th round, though, and the defensive line still hasn't been addressed. When I did my defensive draft preview, I said the Titans wouldn't win very many games if they couldn't stop teams from scoring. Well, so far this offseason, the Titans are worse at DT, worse at CB, a little better at MLB, and maybe a little better at S. That doesn't sound like a winning combination to me. The Titans currently have 7 picks for tomorrow, so there's room to add live bodies. With Tank Tyler, Charles Johnson, and Brandon Mebane all on the board, addressing the D-line would have been more to my approval. I guess we can do that with the Top 5 draft pick we'll have after we go 4-12 next season.

More draft content tomorrow, at least until I have to go to work. Best pick of Day One: Robert Meachem to the Saints at #27. Good player, perfect fit.

First Round Thoughts

I don't have much of particular value to say about most of the draft picks, which is why I'm not live-blogging it. From the Titans perspective, the first notable pick came at #9, when the Miami Dolphins bypassed Brady Quinn, the player they were expected to take, and pick Ohio State WR Ted Ginn Jr. Levi Brown to the Cardinals at #5 was a mild surprise, but most of the picks have gone largely as expected.

CB Darrelle Revis goes to the Jets at #14, right after DE Adam Carriker went to the Rams. That's two players on the Titans maybe list, but other guys are still available.

Tennesee DT Justin Harrell went to GB #16. I thought that was too early for him, and didn't want the Titans to take him at #19, so thanks. The Broncos traded up to #17 to draft Jarvis Moss. As I said in my defense preview, I didn't want the Titans to draft him, so I'm happy. Now, Bengals, please don't take Branch.

The Bengals take Leon Hall at #18. The Tennessee Titans are now on the clock. And they take Michael Griffin, S, Texas. Here is my preliminary take. I'm thinking WR in the second round.

The big story of the draft so far is Brady Quinn falling. Didn't go to the Browns at #3. Didn't go to the Dolphins at #9. Didn't go to Buffalo, or St. Louis... Reports now have the Browns and Lions interested in him, but I think that's his agent, Tom Condon, trying to create buzz. He's going to the Ravens at #29.

Ok, so he doesn't. The Browns trade their #2 pick this year and next year's first round pick to the Cowboys for the #22 pick and use it to select Quinn. This is an absolutely DREADFUL trade for the Browns, and a wonderful deal for the Cowboys. The thing about going to the Ravens is that he'd be on a decent team with a decent supporting cast. He's put in a position to fail with the Browns, and fail he probably will.

And San Francisco trades up to #28 with NE to move ahead of the Ravens to take Joe Staley. It cost them a #4 this year and a #1 next year, but he fills a real need for them. I think this was a good trade for both teams. The Ravens, not too disconcerted, take Auburn G Ben Grubbs. They'd have rather had Staley, likely, but Grubbs fills a need himself. And then we get our real 'Huh?' pick of the draft as San Diego takes LSU WR Craig Davis. Seriously, Davis isn't a bad player, but I thought he was a player the Chargers could have gotten with their second round pick. Bears on the clock now. TE Gregg Olsen was putting on a Bears hat with a smile on his face while the Chargers were on the clock, so it looks like he's the pick.

And Olsen the pick was, and the Colts didn't surprise me by picking Ohio State WR Anthony Gonzalez with the last pick in the first round. As Goodell noted, this was the longest first round in NFL history. 6:08, after 4:40-something last year. What a long freaking time. Anyway, enough with this post.

Pre-Draft Buzz

Over on NFL Draft Blog, Adam Schefter reports what others have said: the Titans are expected to trade for San Diego RB Michael Turner and Detroit WR Mike Williams. I referred to Turner in my offense review, but I thought I should address that topic more specifically. The problem with Turner is you'd need to sign him to a long-term contract for the deal to make sense. And LenDale White was drafted in the second round last year not to be a backup. Turner was signed to a 1st and 3rd round tender offer; now that he's signed the offer it won't take that, but San Diego might use it as a starting point for negotiations. Let's face it, the Titans aren't very good. To give up a Willis McGahee-type deal, maybe a second and a conditional 2nd-5th pick next year, doesn't make sense if the Titans have any faith in LenDale White's ability. They need a back, but not at that cost.

As to Mike Williams, well, he's certainly not worth a #1 pick. Mike Furrey's playing ahead of him. He barely outproduced Justin Gage last year. The Lions have reportedly been on the verge of cutting him. If Norm Chow, who coached him at USC, still believes in him, then I guess you can pick him up. He also has more experience at the NFL level than a rookie would. But I certainly wouldn't spend a first day pick for him... a 5th or 6th rounder, sure.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

State of the Titans, Pre-Draft: Defense

With the offense preview completed, it's time to look at the other side of the ball. One important thing in the NFL: if you can't stop other teams from scoring, you won't win very many games. And one of the things the Titans were bad at in 2006 was stopping other teams from scoring. Opponents scored 40+ points against the Titans three times last year, the same number of times they were held below 17. Using Football Outsiders' stats, the Titans ranked 24th in the NFL in defense. And that's with a pass defense ranked 17th, a pass defense there's good reason to expect will be significantly worse (disclaimer: most of those fine stats for Pacman are the product of my work). So, let's see how that situation can be addressed this weekend.

DE: Kyle Vanden Bosch, Travis LaBoy, Antwan Odom, Sean Conover, Josh Savage
KVB's sack totals dropped from 2006 to 2005, but he was still a very effective pass rusher. The problem came from everybody who lined up on the other side of the defensive line from him. LaBoy and Odom have both been severe disappointments since being selected in 2004. Conover was a UDFA out of Bucknell and practice squadder for a reason. Savage was a third year player on his third team, and looked like it. The Titans have a strong need for a quality DE to play opposite Vanden Bosch. This has lead some people to predict the Titans will draft Florida DE Jarvis Moss with the #19 pick. Despite my feeling that this is a strong position of need, I'm not in favor of Moss. I think there's likely to be better talent at other positions, and I think he's overrated. Kearse was a physical freak with production. Moss hasn't been as productive, and has a troubling injury history. Kearse was also a one-dimensional player for much of his Titans career; granted, it was a fine and important dimension, but the rest of the team was good enough they could camouflage his shortcomings in a way the current Titans defense could not.
DRAFT EXPECTATION: Drafting Moss wouldn't surprise me, though I'm not in favor of it. I expect one of the five picks in the first 4 rounds to be used on a DE.

DT: Albert Haynesworth, Rien Long, Randy Starks, Marcus White, Jesse Mahelona
Robaire Smith left for Cleveland, Rien Long returns from injury after missing all of 2006. When Smith and Haynesworth were both active and healthy, they could form a formidable pair in the middle, the best the Titans had had since, well, Smith and Haynesworth before Robaire left to join the Texans. Long is probably a better pass rusher, but hasn't shown the same sort of run-stopping ability. Starks has been another DL disappointment from 2004, Mahelona didn't show much as a rookie last year, and White hasn't appeared in a game in either of his first two years in the league. As with DE, the Titans could use a talent influx at DT. The good news is that Alan Branch is dropping down draft boards, and could be there when the Titans select in the first round. Assuming he checks out satisfactorily medically, I believe the Titans should draft him. I can't see him being there on Saturday, though, and there's not another DL I'd pick there (Carriker is a pipe dream, IMO). I'd like to see the Titans address this position, preferably fairly early.
DRAFT EXPECTATION: At least one, preferably in the first four rounds.

LBs: Keith Bulluck, David Thornton, Stephen Tulloch, Ryan Fowler, Rob Reynolds, Terna Nande, Spencer Toone, Colin Allred, LeVar Woods, Ken Amato (also LS)
Among the names I've seen connected to the Titans in mock drafts are Penn State LB Paul Posluszny and Florida State LB Lawrence Timmons. Tell me, when making a mock draft, wouldn't you think of what needs a team has? Behind QB, I can't think of a single position the Titans are less likely to draft in the first round than LB. Bulluck and Thornton are good to great OLBs, and between Tulloch and FA acquisition Fowler the Titans should have a pretty decent starting MLB. I expect this to be the best starting LB corps the Titans have had in at least three years and perhaps longer. Because of that, I can't see the Titans using a high pick on a LB. Based on how they feel their backups are, particularly on special teams, it wouldn't surprise me to see them use one of the later picks on a depth LB.
DRAFT EXPECTATION: One LB in the 6th round or later.

CBs: Reynaldo Hill, Nick Harper, Cortland Finnegan, Andre Woolfolk, Michael Waddell, Eric King
As noted in the intro, this position was the hardest hit for the Titans this offseason. Pacman was an immensely talented player who essentially took away one side of the field from the other team. His on-field contributions will be sorely missed. Nick Harper was brought in, but he's older and no better than adequate. Renaldo Hill showed us last year why he was a 7th round pick in the first place; seeing the same from Cortland Finnegan in 2007 wouldn't be a surprise. Woolfolk has been a severe disappointment since being selected in the first round. Waddell missed last season, and should be counted on as no more than a possibly adequate nickel back. There are players here; the problem is that none is known to be particularly good.
DRAFT EXPECTATION: If one of the corners the Titans have a good grade on is available at #18, he HAS to be the selection. If not, the second round pick could go for a CB, though I expect all the decent ones to be gone by then. If they don't pick a CB in the first two rounds, then the Titans would likely be better off looking for more of a body for depth purposes, and I'd wait until the 6th or 7th round for that.

Ss: Chris Hope, Lamont Thompson, Vincent Fuller, Calvin Lowry, Donnie Nickey, Bryan Scott
Hope is the starter at one safety spot. Thompson returns from his role as the other S starter, but should (will hopefully) be challenged for that job by Fuller and Lowry, and maybe even Scott. Nickey is an ace special teamer, and should be regarded as such more than as a safety. It wouldn't be a surprise to me to see 5 or possibly even all 6 of these guys make the final roster as the safeties. Maybe you could bring in a premium S, but the Titans have enough holes I'm not in favor of that.

And that's the draft preview. I plan to have more content tomorrow evening and/or Saturday morning, looking at specific players the Titans may take.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

State of the Titans, Pre-Draft: Offense

This is the first of a two-part series looking at the Titans' current roster as it stands before the draft. I'll be giving my opinions on the current players, and a look at what I might expect to see in the draft. For the Titans, this is a particularly interesting year at the draft, as they have a new General Manager for the first time in over a decade. When Floyd Reese was the GM, he was clearly the man in charge and had final say subject only to owner Bud Adams. With it being Mike Reinfeldt's first year as the GM, and joining the Titans after the end of the season when preparations for the draft were already well under way, it seems likely Head Coach Jeff Fisher and his staff will have more input than has normally been the case.

QBs: Vince Young, Kerry Collins, Kent Smith, David Koral
VY is The Man, and the face of the franchise. Collins should be a decent backup. The team will find a third QB, and whether it's Smith, Koral, or someone not currently on the roster shouldn't matter very much. The team is set at this position.

RBs: LenDale White, Quinton Ganther, Dontrell Moore, Ahmard Hall (FB)
Hall was a pleasant surprise as an undrafted free agent last season, and did plenty to earn himself another year as the FB. With both Travis Henry (Denver) and Chris Brown (no team) leaving the team, this is the thinnest position on the team. White wasn't very productive last year, showed no stamina, and the reported weight issues give cause for even greater concern. The Titans are reportedly in talks with the Chargers to obtain Michael Turner, and he would go a long way toward filling the whole. If the Titans aren't able to get a deal done with the Chargers, I'd like to see them draft a running back with speed and the ability to catch the ball in the 3rd or 4th round.
DRAFT EXPECTATION: One RB drafted in the first four rounds, or traded for using picks in that range.

WRs: David Givens, Brandon Jones, Roydell Williams, Courtney Roby, Jonathan Orr, Justin Gage, Clinton Solomon
Drew Bennett and Bobby Wade out, Justin Gage in. Yes, that sounds like a net negative to me, too. The cupboard isn't quite as bare as it was two years ago, when Bennett and Tyrone Calico were the only returning WRs, but not is it well-stocked. Between Bennett and Wade, the Titans lost a real split end and a flanker, so they could go in either direction with the pick. I expect them to pick a WR in the first three rounds. Many Titans fans would like to see a WR in the first round, particularly Robert Meachem of Tennessee. For reasons expressed in more detail here, I believe the Titans' needs are great enough, and WR depth present enough that the Titans should wait until the second round to address the wideout position. This is a need that might be better filled with a trade, given the learning curve of rookie WRs, but there are no rumors of any good WRs available for draft picks.
DRAFT EXPECTATION: At least one in the first 3 rounds.

OL: Kevin Mawae (C), Eugene Amano (C), Justin Geisinger (C/G), Benji Olson (G), Jacob Bell (G/T), Issac Snell (G), Michael Roos (T), David Stewart (T), Daniel Loper (T), Seth Wand (T)
For a change, all five of the Titans' starters for most of the year return. From L to R, that's Roos, Bell, Mawae, Olson, and Stewart. Compared to what was there in the recent past, that's not a bad grouping. There are two issues. First, Kevin Mawae is 36 years old. He was signed to a 4 year deal, so he's under contract through the 2009 season, but I don't expect him to start in 2009, and perhaps not 2008. If the Titans braintrust doesn't feel their next starting center is on the roster already, they may spend a late round pick on a center and let him develop for a year or two. Olson is another player on the older side of things, and I'd expect 2007 to be his last year with the Titans. This means the team needs to draft a replacement if they don't already have one. Daniel Loper may be judged able to fill that spot, but that would reduce the depth at tackle. Either way, there's use for another body on the O-line, and perhaps two.
DRAFT EXPECTATION: One pick on the second day, with the possibility of an earlier pick if the value is there.

Expect the defensive preview tomorrow (Thursday) night.

UPDATE (4/26, 2121 CT): I swear, sometimes I'm really silly. I realized on my way to work this morning I forgot tight ends. So, here they are:

TE: Bo Scaife, Ben Troupe, Ben Hartsock, Casey Cramer, Cooper Wallace
The Titans were less heavily TE-oriented in 2006 than they were in 2005. Erron Kinney missed the entire year, and that was a big loss, in terms of both blocking and Hartsock, acquired on waivers from the Colts and re-signed at the end of the year, Cramer, and Wallace were part of the cast to replace Kinney, and eventually also Troupe after he missed the rest of the time after he was injured in the Eagles game, and Scaife missed time too. Overall, the Titans have fairly good depth at the TE position, but no standout players. It's a position where a high pick could be very useful, but a low pick isn't likely to make much impact.
DRAFT EXPECTATION: The Titans have enough other needs I don't expect them to pick a tight end. But it wouldn't shock me to see them take one if they found the value there.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Judging Past Titans Drafts-2001

In honor of Football Outsiders' annual look at the draft from six years on, here's my review of how the Titans' 2001 picks went:

Thanks to their superb 13-3 record, the Titans ended up picking at the bottom of the first round. They then traded their first round selection, #29 overall, to the Rams for Kevin Carter. The Rams used the pick to take another defensive lineman, NT Ryan Pickett out of Ohio State. Carter was clearly a better player than Pickett over the next couple seasons. Of course, he also cost quite a bit more. Since #29 is in the range where NFL draft picks are most valuable in a bang-for-buck perspective, this is a traded that obviously contributed heavily to the salary cap woes the Titans faced in 2004 and 2005. From a purely results-oriented perspective, the Titans' failure to reach the Super Bowl in the 2002-04 era makes this trade an overall push at best for the Titans. For a team sorely lacking in offensive weapons, either of next two picks, Reggie Wayne and Todd Heap, would have been a good selection. The Bengals also took Chad Johnson 7 picks later.

#2-60 Andre Dyson, CB, Utah
Previous Pick-Oakland-Marques Tuiasasopo, QB, Washington
Next Pick-Detroit-Shaun Rogers, DT, Texas
Previous CB-2-45-Fred Smoot, Mississippi State (Washington)
Next CB-2-62-Gary Baxter, Baylor (Baltimore)
Man, did Dyson take a lot of heat from Titans fans. I didn't think he was nearly as bad as he got credit for being. It's probably a toss-up between him and Gary Baxter who has had the best career out of any CB left on the board at this point, though Anthony Henry has some defenders. While he left the Titans after his rookie contract, he started from near the beginning of his rookie season and really wasn't that bad. He's also part of an excellent run of defensive players. The next four picks were Rogers, Baxter, Derrick Burgess, and Adrian Wilson. For the #60-64 overall picks, that's a serious grouping of defensive talent.

#3-90 Shad Meier, TE, Kansas State
Previous Pick-Oakland-DeLawrence Grant, OLB, Oregon State
Next Pick-Indianapolis-Cory Bird, SS, Virginia Tech
Previous TE-3-66-Sean Brewer, San Jose State (Cincinnati)
Next TE-4-119-Jabari Holloway, Notre Dame (New England)
Uh, yeah. Casey Rabach, Jonas Jennings, Anthony Henry, and Rudi Johnson all were selected in the next 10 picks. Any of these would have been a better selection than Meier in the 3rd round, of course. I kept thinking of Meier as a low-round pick who stuck around, not somebody who once had actual expectations. It does take some serious talent to manage a 9 catch, 31 yard game, though. I guess Sean Brewer may have been even worse.

#4-124 Justin McCareins, WR, Northern Illinois
Previous Pick-Arizona-Marcus Bell, DT, Memphis
Next Pick-NY Giants-Jesse Palmer, QB, Florida
Previous WR-4-116-Milton Wynn, Washington State (St. Louis)
Next WR-4-131-Cedric James, TCU (Minnesota)
Repeat after me: you can get good WRs in the later rounds. McCareins was a very good complementary WR for the Titans, and ended up fetching a second round pick when traded to the Jets in 2004. 3 useful years + a 2 round increase = very good value.

#5-159 Eddie Berlin, WR, Northern Iowa
Previous Pick-Oakland-Raymond Perryman, SS, Northern Arizona
Next Pick-NY Giant-John Markham, K, Vanderbilt
Previous WR-5-154-Darnerian McCants, Delaware State (Washington)
Next WR-5-162-Jonathan Carter, Troy (NY Giants)
Corollary to the above: not all WRs drafted in the later rounds are good. I don't see much talent drafted right after Berlin, whatever small consolation that may be.

#6-192 Dan Alexander, RB, Nebraska
Previous Pick-San Francisco-Menson Holloway, DE, UTEP
Next Pick-Indianapolis-Jason Doering, FS, Wisconsin
Previous RB-6-175-Dee Brown, Syracure (Carolina)
Next RB-None
It helps when you make the team out of camp. The sixth round was pretty lousy this year. Highlights include Kevin Kasper, Cedrick Wilson, and David Martin.

#6-199 Adam Haayer, T, Minnesota
Previous Pick-Green Bay-David Martin, TE, Tennessee
Next Pick-New Engalnd-Leonard Myers, CB, Miami
Previous T-6-185-Mitch White, Oregon State (New Orleans)
Next T-7-201-Brandon Gorin, Purdue (San Diego)
The 7th round was better than the 6th, as the presence of Brandon Gorin shows. T.J.HousYourDaddy went 5 picks later.

#7-232 Keith Adams, OLB, Clemson
Previous Pick-Baltiimore-Dwayne Missouri, DE, Northwestern
Next Pick-Jacksonville-Marlon McCree, SS, Kentucky
Previous OLB-7-213-Anthony Denman, Notre Dame (Jacksonville)
Next OLB-7-239-T.J. Turner, Michigan State (New England)
Adams was a really good player at Clemson, and I thought he'd be a good NFL player. He ended up starting for the Eagles, but the Titans cut him in training camp. Marlon McCree would have been a nice pick.

OVERALL: the Titans had two nice picks in this draft in Dyson and McCareins. They also converted their first round pick into a good player, but at a substantial salary cap cost that probably wasn't worth it in the long run. The other picks were all misses, some part of the inevitable cost of drafting, some more of the sort you'd think would be avoidable. When looking to the Titans' current talent level, players from this draft would be the ones you'd expect to be the team leaders. By the time 2005 rolled around, everybody from this draft was gone. For a front office that built a remarkably talented team and then re-tooled on the fly to a certain extent, this draft marked the beginning of the end of the good times.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

2006 UFR Summary

Here's what I have UFR available for, in terms of the 2006 season. This page will be updated as I chart things, and is intended to serve as a handy reference.

Aug. 12v. New OrleansL, 16-19None
Aug. 19@ DenverL, 10-35PBP breakdown (through 3Q)
Aug. 26v. AtlantaL, 6-20None
Sep. 1@ Green BayW, 35-21None

Sep. 10v. NY JetsL, 16-23None
Sep. 17@ San DiegoL, 7-40None
Sep. 24@ MiamiL, 10-13None
Oct. 1v. DallasL, 14-45None
Oct. 8@ IndianapolisL, 13-14VY pass chart
Oct. 15@ WashingtonW, 25-22None
Oct. 29v. HoustonW, 28-22None
Nov. 5@ JacksonvilleL, 7-37None
Nov. 12v. BaltimoreL, 26-27None
Nov. 19@ PhiladelphiaW, 31-13Offense
Nov. 26v. NY GiantsW, 24-21Offense
Dec. 3v. IndianapolisW, 20-17Offense
Dec. 10@ HoustonW, 26-20 (OT)Offense
Dec. 17v. JacksonvilleW, 24-17Offense
Dec. 24@ BuffaloW, 30-29Offense
Dec. 31v. New EnglandL, 23-40Offense

This is definitely a work in progress, and I'm sure I'll tweak how it looks over the next couple days.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

UFR: Week 17, Second Half

[UPDATE (7/24/07 2043 CDT): This post previously contained Upon Further Review for the second half of the Titans' Week 17 loss to New England. I put up the second half in a separate post because it had been so long since I'd done the first half. Since we're now several months past that date, I've decided I don't need UFR for both halves of one game. Please see this post for the whole of UFR TEN v NE Week 17.]

Monday, April 16, 2007


Intimations of doom, football style: Vince Young will appear on the cover of Madden '08. Enter Madden curse, prediction of Titans' record switches from 6-10 to 2-14.

Intimations of doom, real style: Blacksburg, Virginia. RIP.

Thursday, April 12, 2007


A couple non-Titans items I'd like to point out.

First, SI's Stewart Mandel had a column looking at what I think may be the most important development in college football this offseason: Florida State's hiring of Jimbo Fisher as offensive coordinator. Let's be frank: lots of college coaches are coaches at least as much for their ability to run a program as their ability to coach football players. Bobby Bowden is a great example of that. A great game coach is a huge advantage in college football. With Fisher around, I expect Florida State to win the ACC within the next two-three years and play in the national championship game within five years. And, of course, that's Bobby Bowden's valedictory and Fisher steps in as head coach.

Also on the college football news front, the hated 3-2-5-e is dead. Typically, college football addressed a problem, namely that games were too damn long, and came up with one of the stupidest solutions imaginable. And, just to piss me off, fans complains when the cost of games that took longer was games that had fewer plays. Well, uh, duh. So, no more clock running on changes of possession. Instead, they moved the kickoff back to the NFL's 30 yard line, in an effort to have more kick returns and fewer touchbacks. Yeah, that'll really solve the slow pace of games. They also switched the play clock from 25 to 15 on plays after a TV timeout. Seriously. Ah, that might be interesting, but it can't replace the high comedy of coaches butchering the clock last year.

This is an interesting post looking at particular programs with "accursed draft histories."

P-F-R blog has been doing some interesting work lately on what a draft pick is worth. This is probably the best post on the matter.

This FO thread on the new schedules touches on one of my pet peeves: the NFL's strength of schedule calculation. It's a misleading and a little inane at the best of times, and even worse when applied to future events.

That's all for now. I'm going to try to post some material on a regular (read semi-frequent) basis. Between UFR, book reviews, and the upcoming NFL draft, I should have enough material to actually produce some content, so long as I bother to get the time in. I'll also be working on importing my football posts from The Other Blog, though most of those aren't really worth remarking on. As the draft nears, I'll have a post or two looking at select older Titans' drafts with the benefit of history. I've also updated the draft picks post with the supplementary picks to show where the Titans will be picking. As the draft nears, I'll move that to the top so it's available as a handy guide. I don't expect the Titans to actually make 10 picks come draft time, though.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

2007 Schedule

Ah, a break from the Pacman talk. Today, the NFL released the 2007 full-season schedule. I thought I'd chime in some some thoughts on the Titans' slate.

The highlights, speaking from a national perspective, come in Week 3, Sept. 24 at New Orleans, and Week 11, Nov. 19 at Denver, when the Titans make their first exclusive national broadcast appearances since the Christmas 2005 blowout loss to the Broncos. Both these games are Monday Night Football games, and will be the Titans' first MNF appearance since the 2004 loss to Kansas City.

The bye week is a little early, coming the weekend of Sept. 30, after MNF against the Saints. I liked last year's bye week timing, breaking up the season nicely, but you can't get that lucky every year.

In terms of travel, the roughest stretch is Nov. 19's MNF game in Denver, followed by Nov. 25 at Cincinnati. The other back-to-back road games are Tampa Bay and Houston Oct. 14 and 21, a much less intimidating pair of teams. Further, in between those two road trips, the Titans have a trio of home contests, against Oakland, Carolina, and Jacksonville. The Titans also luck out with the AFC West tour, playing at Denver and Jacksonville, and playing both San Diego and Oakland at home. The game that presents the best possibility for cold weather is December 16 @ Kansas City, but the other 4 December cames are 3 home and a dome game.

From a more personal perspective, that dome road game in December is the annual visit to Indianapolis in Week 17, Dec. 30. I guess I'll be returning from my Christmas destination earlier than I might otherwise have. Also a possibility for my presence is Nov. 25 in Cincinnati. I'll make it to Nashville one of these years, though I don't know if it'll be this one.

The biggest fear I have about the schedule is that with road trips to Jacksonville and New Orleans sandwiching a home date with the Colts, the Titans will go into the bye week 0-3, and face another uphill climb to make the postseason. Since I've already predicted 6-10 this fall, I guess it's not too big a concern. But, it's April 11, everybody's undefeated and everything from 16(19)-0 to 0-16 is a possibility. The preseason opener, at home against the Redskins, is only four months away, and I'm not sure it'll get here fast enough.

Before the preseason opener, we have the NFL draft, OTAs, and the beginning of training camp. Not much to say about OTAs and training camp, but I will say this about the draft: I don't have a ghost of a clue who the Titans should or will select with the 19th pick in the first round, and I doubt I'll have anything intelligent to say about that decision until about 4 PM CT on April 28th.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Pacman Suspension

So, today the NFL announced Bengals WR Chris Henry will be suspended for the first 8 games of the 2007 NFL season, and Titans CB Adam "Pacman" Jones will be suspended for the entire 2007 NFL season. I'd like to write a great deal about this, but work sucks this week, I'm tired, and it's depressing to think about. Still, I do have some comments. Before I launch into those, though, I want to point out Peter King's column, Len Pasquarelli's offering, and Paul Kuharsky's blog post.

As a Titans fan who runs a blog that focuses more on the Titan than any other team, losing Pacman is a huge blow to the Titans' defense. Nick Harper was an upgrade at cornerback, but Pacman at the end of the year was one of the top 5 CBs in the league. He was also a dynamic return man, leading the league in punt return average and also ranking high in kickoff return average. On a team that doesn't have that many very good players, losing a star-caliber performer like Pacman is a great loss.

These suspensions are about twice as long as I expected them to be. Pacman clearly violated the CBA for failing to report his two arrests, and deserved a suspension for that conduct. But on the scales of NFL justice, a 16 game suspension is only merited for a third failed drug test. In Peter King's column, he compares Pacman's suspension for an entire year to that of Rozelle suspending Alex Karras and Paul Hornung. Minor technicality: Karras and Hornung bet on NFL games. Baseball's punishment for this act is a lifetime ban, as was made well known from the story of the Black Sox and Pete Rose (later than the Karras/Hornung suspensions); comparing Rozelle's act to Goodell's decision announced today strikes me as nothing short of asinine.

One of the things that bugs me about the length is how Goodell will deal with future cases of suspension. The next one on the horizon is Tank Johnson, and that won't happen until after Tank Johnson finishes his 4 1/2 months in prison. Were I a fan of an NFC Central team other than the Bears, I'd be planting as many stories as I possibly could in the news media, trying to influence Goodell's decision. This gets to Pasquarelli's column, and what I feel maybe the most troubling aspect of the Henry/Jones suspensions. Here's the key part of Pasquarelli's column

The blindfold that often blurred the vision of commissioner Paul Tagliabue is gone. Tagliabue is a good man, but he also is an attorney and often fretted more over due process than enunciating a can-do policy of punishment against repeat offenders. Also gone, it seems, are any bindings that once tied the hands of the commissioner and limited the scope of his ability to maintain the integrity of the league.

Tagliabue's style was to allow such issues to dangle, to leave them unresolved by the NFL until they were first resolved by the court system. By comparison, Goodell, all too aware of a burgeoning problem and negative ramifications in the court of public opinion, is a veritable hanging judge.

We've now established the key principle underlying future Goodell decisions: throw them to the wolves. Let us not wait for the light of day, but instead look people in the eye, and stab them in the front.

Take a gander, again, at the NFL announcement, namely the conditions that apply to a potential reinstatement of Pacman following the suspension:
He must have no further adverse involvement with law enforcement.

It's nice to know the concept of moral hazard is an unknown one in Park Avenue. Pacman's a notoriously troubled young man with a history of questionable behavior. An adverse involvement with law enforcement, based on the background, is arrested and/or charges filed. Any idea how difficult it would be for that to happen? Steve McNair's DUI charge, based on an illegal stop, springs to mind immediately. Even closer at hand, Pacman's alleged spitting incident from this past summer; the charge was later dropped, and there was no independent corroboration that Pacman was even present at the scene at the time of the alleged incident. Yet, these would seem to fit the definition of adverse involvement with law enforcement contemplated by Goodell. The potential for mischief here is strong, a possibility Tagliabue seemed to understand and respect, but one to which Goodell seems unheeding.
In conjunction with the team's player development director and other professionals working with him, Jones must develop with the Titans a structured program of community service or other activity. This program must be submitted to the league office for review and approval.

If thar be any doubt in your mind this is a blatant public relations move, this utterly amorphous qualification should utterly annihilate it. This is all about ensuring Pacman Jones doesn't make the NFL look bad.

The NFL's release includes language that Pacman's status will be subject to review after the Titans' 10th games. I haven't mentioned this because I don't think it's important. My prediction is that Pacman Jones hasn't a chance in hell of being reinstated during the 2007 season. In fact, my prediction is that the Week 17 game of the 2006 season against the Patriots will prove to be Pacman's last NFL game. He has become a lightning rod around issues that the NFL and people related to it (see, e.g., Herm Edwards' comments cited in Pasquarelli's piece), and must pay the price for it.

One other issue is that it seems incongruous that Pacman will get 16 games when Leonard Little got 8 games for committing manslaughter, Ricky Manning got one game for pleading guilty to misdemeanor assault, and multiple banned substance positives are required to reach that level. The answer, really, likes in the Collective Bargaining Agreement; the Commissioner has much greater discretion in some areas than others, and Pac's mistake was to fall into an area where discretion is virtually unlimited.

Last note, on personal bias. I don't know Pacman Jones, I've never met him, I don't think I've ever seen him from closer than the stands in the Edward Jones Dome in the 2005 season. As is probably evident from reading the blog, I have a great deal of respect for his football abilities. This doesn't mean I'd want to hang out with him. From what I've read about him, I suspect we wouldn't get along. I wouldn't want to be his friend, and he wouldn't want to be mine. But I've been on the outside looking in of enough groups to recognize when one of The Other is being sacrificed to satisfy those on The Inside, and I don't like it.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Book Review: Next Man Up

Life > blogging. Posts coming when written. Such will continue. Draft will be blogged that day, where "that day" is defined as "before I got to bed that night," at least for Day One. Etc.

So, the next football book I read as Next Man Up: A Year Behind the Lines in Today's NFL by John Feinstein. In the interest of full disclosure, I am an alumnus of, and fan of the basketball team of, Georgetown University. John Feinstein, long affiliated with The Washington Post, has a long-running conflict with Georgetown University, particularly its basketball team, which apparently stems from Coach John Thompson's actions during the 1980's (supposedly, Feinstein believed Big John gave WaPo colleague (and Hoya beat writer) Michael Wilbon preferential treatment and access denied to Feinstein (A Season on the Brink may have been originally intended to be about Georgetown rather than Indiana)). Anyway, I read this book in the week before the Final Four, so my views of this book may be colored by a dislike for Feinstein. Disclosure #2: I am a fan of the Tennessee Titans, and have little, if any, affection for the Baltimore Ravens or their coach, Brian Billick. Notwithstanding my admitted biases, I have done my best to not let my personal feelings interfere with my review of the book.

Because, frankly, the book is bad enough without me bringing any axes to grind. Next Man Up results from John Feinstein's season-long time with the Baltimore Ravens during their disappointing 8-8 2004 campaign. Now, as Feinstein freely acknowledges, following a team for an entire season (tooting his own horn alert: as he did, fairly innovatively, with Indiana in A Season on the Brink) has become sort of a sports cliche. Ironically, the title of the book results from a phrase describing the tremendous pressure upon NFL players. Naturally, the Ravens in 2004 returned 21 of 22 starters from their 2003 AFC Central-champion team, and overall had about as little roster turnover as any team in recent NFL history. Feinstein's a competent journalist, but he occasionally lets his prose get a little journalist-y, sacrificing comprehensible sentence structure for the sake of a "nice" turn of phrase (I'd provide examples, but I've already returned the book to the library, and flipping to most any random page would do just as well).

Most distressingly, Feinstein displays no inklings that he understands football at all, or really anything else. His comprehension is limited to repeating those things told to him by GM Ozzie Newsome, Coach Brian Billick, owner Steve Bisciotti, or any of the players. There's no sense of anything deeper, or that goes beyond the fresh day-to-day impressions, nothing that betrays the sense you're reading a 400 page tome instead of the latest installment of a three-column weekly feature. He sounds like an idiot when he talks about the salary cap. His writing on the games bears all the insight of John Madden... the taped one that repeats canned phrases in the video games (boom! he's on his back!). He can't get the name of the practice squad right.

Here's something minor, but maybe telling. He writes, briefly, about the 2004 presidential election; Billick's a Republican, but he talks to Feinstein, so he's ok, and almost all the players are apathetic Republicans because of taxes. Now, I was surprised to read this, because The Tennesseean did interviews of Titans players and hopefuls during the 2004 training camp season, including which of Bush and Kerry the player preferred. Now, some veteran players dodged the question (Steve McNair: "Steve McNair"; Brad Hopkins, or maybe Fred Miller: "Do you really think I'm going to answer that?"), but the only two players who said they were Republicans were ex-Oklahoma teammates Andre Woolfolk and Rocky Calmus, while many players (20+?) expressed a preference for Kerry. So, who do you believe, the journalist who can't get stuff right and is making a generalization, or the players on another team? Pardon me for being skeptical, but I'm leaning against Feinstein.

And so it goes. There's no reason this couldn't have been a good book, and it is a competent one. But that's all it is, and I can't recommend it for that, unless you're a Ravens fan.