Continuing on with the AFC South in our interview series, August West, a Titans blogger, was nice enough to sit down and type some answers to the questions I posed to him. Please relax, open up your visual instruments and read on for another interview.
Jon: After a great start by the Titans, what happened that led to such a collapse?
August: Every Titans fan I've talked to has spent a lot of time reading the tea leaves and searching their soul trying to come up with the definitive answer what happened over the last half of the 2010 season. I'd say the myriad reasons can be pared down to five things that this team just couldn't recover from: 1) The Titans suffered a crisis of inconsistency at the QB position (from week 5 through 13 the Titans didn't have the same QB start two games in a row), which was egged on by Vince Young's complete lack of leadership and professionalism 2) Kenny Britt got hurt, and right now he means as much to this offense as Chris Johnson does, 3) offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger was diagnosed with a dangerous and painful form of cancer right in the middle of those three events, 4) defensive coordinator Chuck Cecil proved completely incapable of making adjustments to fix scheme issues that teams took advantage of all season and 5) the offensive line took a bit step backwards with the loss of Kevin Mawae and some shuffling in the middle of the line over the off-season. All of those things led to a season that started off very strongly ending like a dumpster fire. Combine that with the CBA issues this offseason, and you have a complete renovation on your hands.
Jon: What are the Titans planning to do about the QB situation? A veteran? Drafting one in the first round? Later rounds?
August: Until there's a new CBA there are no trades or true free agency, so the Titans are a bit stuck. Still, I think the core of their plan is the same: sign the best veteran they can find and draft a QB with one of the first two picks in the draft. I don't think there's anyone in this draft worth the 8th overall pick. Because of that, I'd love to see them sign a veteran, and draft the QB they like the most in the 2nd or 3rd round. Rusty Smith was a highly touted late round pick last year, but his horrifying performance in Houston crushed any thoughts that he might be able to compete for the starting spot next year.
Jon: Who was the MVP for the Titans in 2010? LVP?
August: LVP has to be Vince Young. He made some great, great plays through the early part of the season, but completely melted down in what was clearly his last chance with this team. Some of the blame probably does lie at the feet of Jeff Fisher for how he handled Vince after 2008, but the lion’s share of the blame goes to Vince. He's just not ready for the responsibility of being the face of an NFL franchise: he's ready for the perks, but not for the commitment, leadership and work that comes with it.
I'd say the MVP was Jason Babin. He came in for a one year, $1 million contract and ended up with a 12.5 sack season in which he held up well against the run and terrorized QBs all year. Jim Washburn has a long history of taking draft gems and veterans on the skids and spinning them into gold... that's why we all freaked-out when he left for Philly. The Titans are working with Babin on a new contract before the CBA expires so they can avoid franchising him.
Jon: What are your feelings on Jeff Fisher leaving after many years of being the head coach? How do you feel about the new incoming coaches?
August: I hung on to support Jeff Fisher long after most of the other contributors at MCM had give up on him. I think Jeff can win somewhere else with the right roster, but it just wasn't working here anymore. We've had 5-game losing streaks in 4 of the past 5 seasons and hadn't won a playoff game in 7 years. The defense became stagnant and predictable, and he stubbornly clung to awful veterans over talented young players. That being said, I still love the guy. He's still coach Fisher in my house, and I'll never forget the magic of that inaugural 1999 season. He was great in the community, and did a lot of charity work that will be missed.
I like a lot about the new coaching staff. A lot of fans were scared Munchak, who has only worked for the Oilers/Titans as a player or a coach, would be a clone of Jeff Fisher, but that fear only lasted about 12 hours after he was announced. Munch started dropping the hammer on the coaching staff, jettisoning some good coaches who hadn't gotten the job done in an effort to put him imprint on this franchise. He's proven so good at dropping the hammer that we've taken to call him Thorchak. Jerry Gray has been a pretty popular pick: he was a longtime assistant of Gregg Williams (including during his time with the Oilers/Titans) and should have gotten another shot at being a DC several years ago. Chris Palmer isn't exciting anyone, but that doesn't mean it won't work. I'm optimistic that an upgrade at DC and some savvy roster moves will be enough to get this team back on track.
Jon: What is the biggest need for the Titans in the offseason?
August: Quarterback. No doubt about it. I don't know that the franchise solution is out there right now, but they have to get someone into the mix that can win some games until the next franchise QB is on the roster.
Jon: What is the biggest hope for the Titans moving forward?
August: That Thorchak succeeds quickly and sticks to his talk about discipline and accountability. This roster has some incredible talent on it, and I said from jump last year that the problems we had were between the ears, not a lack of talent. Fisher's player-friendly style definitely got too cushy over the years, so if these guys really buy into the new coaching staff (and we get a serviceable QB) we should be back in the hunt sooner rather than later.
I would like to thank August for answering these questions, and for more from August or Titans related news, please visit Music City Miracles.