We're now one quarter through the 2009 season, and the Tennessee Titans don't have a win. After finishing last year with the best record in football (13-3), it's safe to say this season has started as an enormous disappointment.
There are plenty of directions for a finger to point in Nashville, too.
While the team lost their defensive coordinator, Jim Schwartz, to the Detroit Lions and the anchor of their defensive line, Albert Haynesworth, to Washington as a free agent, the offense has been underwhelming so far this season. The pass defense has been the most distinct falloff on the defense, though. Teams are throwing at will against a defense that was near the top of the league last year.
But any knowledgeable football player, coach or fan will tell you that defense can be a function of the offense's ability to move the ball. Unless you have Peyton Manning scoring four touchdowns in only 14 minutes of possession (as he did against Miami a couple weeks ago), an inept offense can make a defense's job harder to do.
And the Titans' offense hasn't helped anyone this year.
The ground game carried the Titans last year, and has been mediocre at best this season. LenDale White is averaging only 20 yards per game with just one touchdown, and Chris Johnson has almost as many lost fumbles, one, as he does touchdowns, two.
Perhaps more disturbing has been the struggles from a passing game that saw two significant investments in the offseason. The Titans brought Kerry Collins back to lead an offense that added two big-play receivers, Nate Washington and rookie Kenny Britt. Washington was in Pittsburgh last year and had hamstring issues in the preseason, and Britt took time, as any rookie does, to get used to professional football.
Collins, through four games, has thrown for 914 yards, five touchdowns and six interceptions.
Over the next two weeks, things don't get any easier for the Titans. They'll host the Colts, and Manning, in Sunday night prime time next weekend before travelling to New England. Based on year-to-date performances, there's little reason to think the Titans won't be 0-6 when they reach their bye week.
Which is why coach Jeff Fischer might strongly consider making a move under center, re-inserting Vince Young as the team's starting quarterback.
There has been a lot said and written about Young's on and off-field issues last year, so I won't waste space here discussing them other than to say the last 12 months have served as an important learning time for Young. A confident, dare I say cocky player coming out of Texas, Young told anyone with a microphone how good he was; now, he's watched a team win in his absence with an older, wiser Collins.
Quarterback is the position that gets more credit for wins and takes more blame for losses than anywhere on the field in football, and there's no reason Tennessee should be an exception. Collins has not performed well, and there are more reasons than just the 2009 season for the Titans to get Young on the field.
Even with Young under center, the Titans likely won't turn things around on a dime. The Colts and Patriots are both playing great football right now, and will be tough to beat even on Tennessee's best day. Young also won't fix the issues on the defensive side of the ball. There's a really good chance that, even with a quarterback change, the Titans will be 0-6 when they get to their bye week.
But the 2010 NFL Draft could be as deep, if not deeper, than any in recent memory at the quarterback position. With players like Jevan Snead, Tim Tebow, Colt McCoy and Sam Bradford among those available in the draft, the Titans could, indeed they should, use the rest of this season to evaluate Young's validity as part of the future plans of the organization.
Which is why now would be an ideal time for the Titans, both from a competitive and strategic perspective, should make the change to Young at quarterback.
How does this impact fantasy football owners? Collins, like Carolina's Jake Delhomme, doesn't deserve to be on a fantasy roster this year (unless you're in a 30-team league). But Young might be worth a fantasy consideration.
Young's skill set is vastly different than that of Collins. He's more versatile and mobile than the statuesque Collins, and is a threat on the ground as much as any quarterback in the NFL. By switching to him at quarterback, defenses would have to game plan for more than a simple run or pass offense. Behind Collins, the Titans are predictable; with Young, they might be dangerous.
So advice to fantasy owners of any player on the Titans offense is to watch the waiver wire and continue checking with Top Fantasy Football for any changes that might be made in Tennessee. If Young becomes the starting quarterback for the Titans, depending on your roster, he might be worth a roster spot.