Vince Young has an offensive rookie of the year award and a playoff appearance in his first two NFL seasons. His offensive numbers in that time? Well, he can run really well.
And while Young has had memorable moments as a passer, he's not had nearly enough of them. That's why the Titans announced after a 17-6 wild-card loss to San Diego that their offseason focus would be improving the offense.
They have been busy in free agency, and now the Titans prepare for the NFL Draft with their first-round pick, No. 24 overall, likely to be used on offense. General manager Mike Reinfeldt says Tennessee wants to continue adding playmakers.
"If one were looking for a playmaker, you could argue we're in a good spot to get a pretty good guy at 24," Reinfeldt said.
Tennessee already has signed tight end Alge Crumpler, given receiver Justin Gage a new deal and brought back receiver Justin McCareins for a second stint. Coach Jeff Fisher fired Norm Chow and lured Mike Heimerdinger back as his offensive coordinator.
"We feel like we've got a good start," Fisher said.
Now do the Titans start off by drafting a receiver? This franchise has drafted only two receivers in the first round in its 48 previous years and none since Kevin Dyson in 1998. But the Titans could use a speedy receiver to stretch the field, giving Young more room to operate.
"There's a lot of very talented offensive skilled players in the draft, and there are going to be many talented skill players selected in the second day that can have impact and contribute almost immediately for a lot of clubs," Fisher said.
The Titans have tried finding receivers through quantity, taking seven in the past three drafts with none selected before the third round.
They have size in the 6-foot-4 Gage, who had 55 catches for 750 yards. Mike Williams, at 6-5 and the 10th pick overall in 2005, is on the roster as a reclamation project.
Roydell Williams blossomed late and had 55 catches before breaking his ankle in practice before the playoff game. Brandon Jones had 21 catches before being placed on injured reserve with a groin injury in his third season, and Paul Williams, a third-round pick last year, never got on the field.
Reinfeldt said a receiver with speed is something they would look for in the draft _ but so is everyone else.
"Whether we would be able to get it where we are would be another issue," Reinfeldt said.
Young tried to pump up his receivers last year, working with them and constantly expressing confidence in them. But he had only one 300-yard passing game, and that was in a loss at Denver when Jones dropped a would-be TD.
Only five NFL teams threw for fewer yards than the Titans, who had 2,878 yards passing. No one was worse than Tennessee inside opponents' 20, scoring touchdowns only 36.4 percent of the time with 20 TDs on 55 such chances. They went 10 games without a TD pass, and their nine touchdown passes were the fewest by a playoff team in a 16-game season.
So the Titans have visited with receivers such as Limas Sweed of Texas, Mario Manningham of Michigan, Devin Thomas of Michigan State, Donnie Avery of Houston and Earl Bennett of Vanderbilt.
Tennessee also could go for a running back such as Felix Jones of Arkansas. Veteran Chris Brown won't be back. LenDale White ran for 1,110 yards but had no run longer than 28 yards, and Chris Henry, a surprise second-round pick in 2007, is remembered most for being run over by a defender last season.
"Any time that you have a chance to acquire a playmaker, it can be any of those positions," Reinfeldt said. "I think the good thing is receiver, running back, there are some guys in that draft that are very interesting, guys that do make plays."
Then again, Fisher loves defense.
Adding depth to a unit that was the NFL's fifth stingiest isn't out of the question, either, since defense was the biggest reason Tennessee got to the playoffs. Gone are defensive ends Antwan Odom and Travis LaBoy as free agents. The Titans signed Jevon Kearse, and Jacob Ford, a draft pick last year who tore his Achilles' tendon, should be healthy.
"We're going to obviously pay particular attention to the best players on the board and who we think can come in and help us immediately," Fisher said. "That very well could be a defensive player as well. We don't know. It's hard to predict how all these players are going to come off."
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