2005 Tennessee Titans Obituary
By Evan Williams
Posted January 3rd, 2006

Dearly beloved, the time has come to bury the 2005 Tennessee Titans season. The ceremony will be short, there won't be a wake, and the corpse will quickly be put to eternal rest in an unmarked grave. After all this suffering, I don't know if we can take much more.

The 4-12 year ended with a drubbing at the hands of the team's biggest rival last Sunday in Jacksonville, with a 40-13 blowout not as close as the final score indicated. The Jaguars played many backups, including David Garrard, Quinn Gray, and Matt Jones at quarterback with LaBrandon Toefield and Alvin Pearman at running back. Byron Leftwich and Fred Taylor didn't play, and Jimmy Smith was in there for so little that the equipment man probably didn't even need to wash his jersey after the game.

For the Titans, Matt Mauck's first NFL start went about as expected and the third stringer was pulled at halftime. The team committed a record number of penalties and it took them 51 minutes to put points on the board. Adam Jones was shown the bench after two personal fouls deep in the red zone.

Jones, who went off on the ref like Pacman was Zsa Zsa Gabor and the official was a traffic cop, sat for the rest of the game with a towel over his head. That's in stark contrast to the rest of the team, who threw in the towel two weeks ago after the Seattle game.

In the aftermath, the coaches are apologizing, the players are fighting amongst themselves and the fans are complaining. The loss has served as a lightning rod for everyone's frustrations. I think that is a good thing, but more on that later.

Let's take a closer look at the '05 Titans.

Jeff Fisher's teams have been known for their ability to run the ball and play defense. The Titans were poor at both and never developed an identity. Rookies looked lost and veterans underperformed.

On offense, the team did not have a 100-yard rusher all season and Norm Chow's offense featured a short passing game to the Tight Ends. The unit tried to grind it out but was ineffective when penalties and mistakes ended drives.

If the team had a 2005 slogan, it could have been, "We shot ourselves in the foot."

Despite playing a bevy of the weaker quarterbacks on the schedule, the Titans defense gave up a passer rating of 98.5 in 2005. A list of the League legends beat the Titans in 2005? Tim McCown, Trent Dilfer, and Gus Frerotte.

More defensive lowlights: only nine interceptions all year and the opponents had a 100-yard rusher the last six weeks of the season.

With the team eliminated from contention down the stretch, it came time for the players to (cliche warning) play for the name on the back of the jersey, to make a name for themselves and earn a big check, a la Brad Kassell last season.

Too bad some of these guys respected their names like they were in the Witness Relocation Program.

On a team this bad, there were plenty of problems. The biggest issue with the team was a lack of talent. It's no secret the talent train has been heading out of town the last five years due to the salary cap. Those veterans were never really replaced.

In the end, the Titans looked like what they were -- a team with a $51 million dollar (or so) payroll in a league with an $85.5 million dollar salary cap.

So what next? The team will pick third in the draft as a result of the 2005 futility. They will also have some can room to bring in some free agents for a change.

As I said earlier, I think a good butt whipping will help the team. Nashville has been a comfortable, womb-like atmosphere for the players, coaches, and front office. Had the Titans ended the year on a high note, you can bet we'd all be hearing spin about the positives from 2005 -- special teams improvement and the young players showing flashes. As it is, we have a near mutiny in the locker room and fodder for the radio talk shows.

But at least it is over.

First off is to settle the Quarterback situation. McNair's deal has to be reworked and the team needs to decide what to do with Billy Volek. The team also needs to re-sign Kyle Vanden Bosch, one of the few bright spots on the team. The run game badly needs fixing. The team also needs to upgrade personnel and Safety, Linebacker, and Wide Receiver.

Scheme-wise, the team needs to stop the run on defense. The offense needs to figure out a way to use the Tight End talent of Ben Troupe and Bo Scaife down the field.

The team has a burgeoning Pacman problem, too. The rookie has mastered the art of the kick return and came on strong as a cornerback the last half of the year. Can he master the art of shutting his mouth and staying out of trouble?  "Lewis" may have indeed had the weed, but Pacman has an unchecked temper and has been pegged by opponents as a player that will lose his cool when pushed.

Penalties and mistakes were more ubiquitous in Nashville than cowboy boots. Some of it had to do with having guys in there that simply can't play. Some of it didn't.

Time to go to work.

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