It's opening weekend, and everyone's stoked to get the NFL season going. Thursday night was a tasty morsel of things to come, and oh wasn't it great?
Andrew Strickert over at TotalTitans.com exchanged and answered each other's questions this week. Here's the questions that he responded to about the Titans and their upcoming season.
SC: We're all curious. How long do you think it'll be until Jake Locker takes over as the starting quarterback?
AS: Matt Hasselbeck could remain as the starter all year as long as he plays reasonably well and stays healthy, especially if the Titans have a decent record. Personally, I suspect Locker will be the starter by midseason. Hasselbeck hasn't played well for the last two years and I see no reason why he will suddenly get better now. If Locker is "ready" in the coaches' eyes by midseason, I predict he'll start if Hasselbeck struggles or the Titans are losing.
SC: Chris Johnson held out for much of the pre-season. What do you expect from him, especially early in the season?
AS: Actually, CJ was a holdout for the entire preseason, missing all of training camp and all four preseason games. I am optimistic here that things won't be as bad as they would be for most other backs. The reasoning is that CJ was also a holdout last year, missing all of the OTAs. However, he worked out in Orlando and reported to camp in good shape, and didn't miss a beat. Hopefully, a similar scenario will occur this year. I expect for CJ to get about 20 touches on Sunday, although his backup is injured, so it could be a little more.
SC: How's the Titans defense looking this season? Will we see improvement, especially in pass defense?
AS: There is reason to believe the Titans will be improved against the run. There's a new DC, Jerry Gray, who should improve the overall defense schematically. I'm not so optimistic about the pass defense. The starters in the secondary are the same as last year and they won't benefit from a pass rush to help them out, at least not this week. The top two defensive ends are injured and I don't think the Titans can generate a pass rush with just 4 d-linemen.
SC: Are the Titans in a "rebuilding" process, or is it more of a "re-tooling" process?
AS: It seems like the front office thinks it's only a retooling process. There were some changes I hoped the Titans would make, that didn't happen, such as signing Dawan Landry (or someone) to replace Chris Hope, or upgrading the interior o-line with Harvey Dahl or another top guard. They belatedly upgraded at fullback, but only after Ahmard Hall was suspended. I guess that means I believe the Titans needed to rebuild but the front office thought a retooling would suffice.
SC: What do you think the Titans' final record will be at the end of the season, and is it good enough to get into the playoffs?
AS: We've got a new poll on our site asking our readers for their predictions. As I write this, 38.5% believe the Titans will win 6 games or less and another 38.5% believe it will be 7-8 wins. Football Outsiders Almanac predicted 5.0 wins, tied for fewest in the league with the Raiders. The sports book Bodog has the Titans over/under at 6½ wins. As I wrote in this article, nine times this season the Titans will look across the field at a team that had a better record last year and twice (Houston) they'll play a team with the same record as theirs was last year. I thought the Titans would probably win six games but now that it looks like Peyton Manning might miss the entire season, that might be an extra two wins. Is eight wins enough for a playoff berth? Not unless the AFC South has a finish similar to the NFC West last year.