The Tennessee Titans are set to embark on another mission to redefine the culture of the franchise. New coach Ken Whisenhunt is going to need his guys to dig deep to end this extended run of mediocrity/ The team that has not won a playoff game since 2004. After a productive off-season that saw a coaching overhaul as well as some crafty free agency signings and draft maneuvers, the focus now shifts to the field where this young team needs a handful of players to take the next step in becoming a playoff team. Here is a look at some of the Titans who need to take the next step in their development this coming season.
Justin Hunter: With Chris Johnson gone at running back and the continued inexperience of Jake Locker at quarterback, the Titans need a receiver to step up and ease the load. The Titans traded up in the draft last season to snag Hunter in the second round, and he showed big glimpses of his sky-high potential at times in 2013, namely his game-winning touchdown catch against the Chargers. Hunter has a huge frame and great hands and will need to be a more consistent threat to help get the most out of Locker. The Kenny Britt experiment is officially over, and it is time for Hunter to step up and be the guy everyone thought Britt was going to be.
Zach Brown: Brown took off toward the end of the 2012-13 season and left high hopes for last season, but did not perform up to expectations. In the last seven games of his rookie year, Brown posted 4.5 sacks and three picks, two of which he ran back for touchdowns in the season’s final game. Last year, he did not utilize his supreme athletic gifts to the same sort of effectiveness. Brown is a key piece that new defensive coordinator Ray Horton needs to get the most out of to make this defense a truly feared unit.
Chance Warmack: The Titans invested the No. 10 overall pick in Warmack after the 2012-13 season, and he had mixed results in his first season. He was able to maul people at times in a manner similar to what he did at Alabama, but has showed he still needs work with his technique. There are no concerns that he will not pan out, but this offensive line has to continue to mesh as a cohesive unit. Tennessee also plays in a division with a number of terrifying pass rushers, so they need everything they can get out of their prized guard.
Blidi Wreh-Wilson: The Titans have a big hole in the secondary following the expected departure of Alterraun Verner to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers via free agency. That second cornerback slot is likely going to be fought for by Coty Sensabaugh and second-year, former third-round pick, Blidi Wreh-Wilson. He had little impact in his rookie year, but the Titans have high hopes for Wilson. His big athletic frame should play well in Horton’s scheme. The opportunity is there for him to seize the starting role. He just has to take the necessary steps to improve and make that happen.
Commentary by Justin Hussong
Guardian Liberty Voice Sports Writer covering the Tennessee Titans