Thursday, July 28, 2011
A Growing Optimism
How did I miss this news, you ask? I didn't. I just don't think it really hit me until yesterday when I finally accepted the fact that the lockout is over, and I saw the dynamic changes coming to the philosophy at Baptist Sports Park.
I'm not convinced that Mike Munchak is going to adopt "Fisherball" (i.e. run, run, screen, run, run, screen, run, screen, run, punt/FG) in full. I expect the offense to be a little more exciting this year. All offseason, the coaches have been working on schemes for Matthew Hasselbeck, knowing that he was their prime target, and they got him yesterday. And don't think they haven't been talking to him all offseason. Despite the lockout, those deals were going down and everybody knows it. Knowing now that Hasselbeck will be playing quarterback (for at least the first part of the year) is giving me optimism. He's not an elite QB, but he's serviceable for his age, and he knows his role. Don't expect him to just be the mentor, though. He's going to be motivated to, y'know, not suck, because as soon as he does, they'll hand the keys over to Jake Locker.
On that note, I wonder how quickly Bud Adams will intervene if that happens, though. In 2006, it took three straight losses to open the season before Bud laid down the law and ordered Jeff Fisher to put Vince Young in the lineup, but Bud had an attachment to Vince that he doesn't have with Jake. However, a different dynamic comes into play here: Would Bud demand a change from the Owner's Suite to remind Mike Munchak who is the boss? I don't think so. I fully expect Bud to be hands-off this year, and whatever happens happens without his direct input. Bud has a soft spot for Mike Munchak, who anchored the Oilers' offensive line through the 80s and 90s, and I have a feeling that he's willing to give him a little more leeway as a result.
With Hasselbeck, and even possibly Locker, under center this year, I expect to see a more balanced passing attack than we saw under Collins and Young. More deep passes. Kenny Britt (if he's not suspended) will get to shine this season, but the team needs to invest in one more wide receiver, in my opinion. Chris Johnson (if he's not holding out) will still get the ball handed off to him a lot, but the other facets of the game will hopefully be improved, such as the defensive backfield, which (thankfully) has another year of experience under its belt, but will be seeing a new system put in place by Jerry Gray.
I still don't see the Titans making the playoffs this year, but I also don't expect we'll be getting the first draft pick in 2012. Hopefully, though, we'll see some improvement over the debacle that was the last half of last season. It might take some time for everything to jell simply due to the fact that the new coaches didn't get to work with the players in OTAs, but with the new attitude & new QBs, I think that by the second half of the season, we will.
BONUS BLOG POST: I think we should wait until late July to start the Free Agency & Trading Period every year. Yesterday was incredibly exciting, as the rest of the week is sure to be as well. It's taken my mind off the fact that the Predators are still 71 days away from dropping the puck. :-)