Final Post

I am shutting down Titans Tracker permanently.

 

I will always have a passion for and support the Tennessee Titans franchise I became fond of as a teenager, when the then-Houston Oilers held its training camp in my hometown of San Angelo, Texas.

It was, is, and always be about the franchise, regardless of which city calls it home.

I hope Mr. Bud Adams gets a chance to hold the Lombardi Trophy, so coach Mike Munchak, his coaching staff, the front office and players better get to work.

Sincere thanks to my readers and sponsors over the past four seasons.

Goodbye, God bless, and as always, Go Titans!

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A League Deferred

“But I guess with all this money involved,
Who cares about my two cents?”

It’s great that Jake Locker has practiced with some of his new teammates, and it’s not so great that Kenny Britt is not growing up fast enough. Titans aside, the lockout is still in effect, but perhaps the end is near. In the meantime, here is Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Steve Breaston putting his unique spin on the dispute between the owners and the players.

http://espn.go.com/videohub/player/embed.swf

Profile: Robert Brazile

Brett Favre is not the only NFL legend with the middle name “Lorenzo” to make his mark on the league. According to JW Nix, Houston Oilers linebacker Robert Brazile was a trailblazing 3-4 linebacker who retired after a family tragedy and deserves to be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Robert Brazile
6’4″ 244
Linebacker
Houston Oilers
1975 – 1984
10 Seasons
147 Games Played
13 Interceptions
7 Pro Bowls

Robert Lorenzo Brazile, Jr. was a first round pick by the Houston Oilers in 1975. He was the sixth player picked overall. Picked just before him was his college teammate Walter Payton.

Brazile was rated as the premier collegiate linebacker in 1974 while playing at Jackson State. He started his collegiate football career as a tight end, but switched to linebacker during his sophomore year. Brazile was called “Mr. Versatile”, a moniker he earned because of his ability to excel at either the inside or outside linebacker slot.

He helped lead Jackson State to two Southwestern Athletic Conference championships in 1972 and 1973. Brazile is a member of the Jackson State Sports Hall of Fame, the SWAC Hall of Fame, and the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame.

Brazile was part a deal former Oilers coach Sid Gillman had made at the end of 1973. The Oilers acquired Kansas City’s 1975 first round selection, along with nose tackle Curley Culp, for defensive end John Matuszak.

New head coach/general manager Bum Phillips switched Houston’s base defense from the from a 4-3 to a 3-4. Brazile is credited by many to be most important in making the 3-4 popular by his ability to rush the quarterback from his outside linebacking position.

Brazile was the NFL’s Defensive Rookie of the Year award in 1975. He was named to the Pro Bowl in each of his first seven seasons. Brazile was a key member of Oilers teams that went to back-to-back AFC Championship games in 1978 and 1979.

In 1984, Brazile’s wife died in a car wreck. He retired immediately from the NFL. Brazile was chosen on the 1970’s NFL All-Decade Team. He is the only linebacker from that team not in Canton.

Many may remember his moniker in the NFL. Brazile was nicknamed “Dr. Doom” by his team mates after being tossed out of a game in his rookie year for hitting Washington Redskin Quarterback Billy Kilmer in the head. Some may recall the time he bulldogged Dallas Cowboys Hall of Fame Running Back Tony Dorsett by the facemask.

Brazile was a vicious hitter. He was equally excellent is pass coverage and run support as he was rushing the passer. He didn’t always play on good teams, so he wasn’t given the nation wide notice, during that era, he deserved.

Since the NFL did not record sacks as a statistic until 1982, his impact on the game may not be fully realized by newer fans. Those who saw Brazile play knew he was always one of the better defensive players in the NFL in his era year in and year out. Robert Brazile deserves to be inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame. Ask his peers.

See Crazy Canton Cuts for more profiles of gridiron legends.

Ayers, Casey add size to Titans defense

Mike Reinfeldt and the Tennessee Titans front office continue in their recent history of excellent drafting, grabbing a linebacker with a first-round grade and a big, quick defensive tackle.

UCLA linebacker Akeem Ayers was not chosen as he sat in the NFL Draft waiting room Thursday night, but found out he had been picked by the Titans in the second round upon landing in Los Angeles Friday afternoon.

Ayers bring size and versatility to a linebacker corps that struggled mightily against tight ends in 2010. Ayers stands at 6’4″ and weighs 255, and signals that new defensive coordinator Jerry Gray and the Titans are stockpiling bigger defenders.

Jurell Casey was picked in the third round. A 6’1″, 305 defensive tackle, Casey will work with new defensive line coach Tracy Rocker. He will compete for playing time with undersized veteran tackle Jason Jones.

So far, each player drafted by the Titans comes from the Pac-10 conference.

Source: Titans Online

Welcome to the Jake Locker era

Yes!

I could not be happier that Tennessee took a bold step and drafted Jake Locker to be the team’s next franchise quarterback. The Good Lord must have wanted me to continue writing for Titans Tracker.

Folks, the person typing this was (and still is) one of Vince Young’s biggest fans. Tonight, I could not be more excited for the future of my favorite team.

And yes, the Titans proved once again that mock drafts are utterly worthless and a huge waste of time.

I don’t have an objective explanation on why I thought Locker might be the Titans guy. I, like Jon Gruden, simply had a hunch about him.

I studied Blaine Gabbert. I studied Andy Dalton. I’ve watched Colin Kaepernick over the past four years. I’d only taken a close look at Locker over the past week.

My hunch was, along with Cam Newton, that Jake Locker is the only other “it” quarterback in the draft.

I’ve been an avid NFL fan for over three decades, and I trust my hunches.

Locker is a guy who endured a winless sophomore campaign and didn’t bail on his program at the University of Washington after his junior year.

He’s smart, tough, and athletic. Yes, he’s not the most accurate guy, but ponder this.

These are the college stats of a future Hall-of-Fame quarterback.

Comp Att % Yards TD INT
79 194 40.7 1264 15 13
178 319 55.8 2271 16 5
206 381 54.1 2588 14 10
150 275 54.5 1572 7 6

Who is the quarterback?

Brett Lorenzo Favre.

Rest easy, Titans fans. This is going to be a fun ride.

Jake Locker, welcome to the NFL.

Go Titans!

Draft a Quarterback in the First Round

I can’t wait for Thursday’s NFL draft. It figures to be the most compelling, action-packed draft ever. Why?

Combine the complications created by the current labor dispute with the number of quarterback-needy teams, and you have the perfect recipe for an active, drama-filled first round.

The NFL labor dispute has created a situation in which teams were not able to sign free agents after early March.  After the Tennessee Titans declared its intentions to part ways with Vince Young, team management was not able to cut or trade Young, scan the free agent landscape, and sign a stop-gap quarterback.

If the Titans had signed one of the better quarterbacks believed to be on the market (Kevin Kolb, Kyle Orton or Donovan McNabb), they might have a sense of whether they could draft a developmental quarterback in the second round.

Without a top-flight quarterback on the roster, there is heightened urgency to reach for a franchise-caliber quarterback in the draft, because there’s no telling if Tennessee can sign or trade for Kolb, Orton or McNabb.

Head coach Mike Munchak has mentioned Kerry Collins’ name enough times for me to believe that Collins is the team’s plan B.

If the Titans draft Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley (as predicted by almost every mock draft) at pick number 8, Collins may start in 2011. If so, expect the Titans to win no more than four games.

Carolina, Buffalo, Cincinnati, Arizona, Tennessee and Minnesota all need a franchise quarterback. Denver and San Francisco may also be interested in drafting a quarterback during the first two rounds.

There are enough quarterback-needy teams and enough good quarterback prospects to create what NFL.com analyst Mike Mayock is calling a feeding frenzy for quarterbacks Thursday night.

I agree with Mayock. There is no guarantee that trading down in order to pick a quarterback where he should be valued will work.

Rookie quarterbacks are not overrated. However, they are overvalued. So be it.

Was Mark Sanchez worth the fifth pick in the 2009 draft, given his relatively shallow college resume? The Jets believed he was worth the pick and traded up to get him. Sanchez has won three tough playoff games in two seasons.

Carolina or Buffalo will draft Cam Newton. Buffalo, Cincinnati or Arizona will draft Blaine Gabbert.

If the Titans believe Jake Locker is a franchise quarterback, they should draft him at number 8. The same goes for Andy Dalton.

I refuse to believe that the Titans want Ryan Mallett to be the new face of the franchise.

If Tennessee drafts Fairley or Julio Jones instead, they had better cross their fingers and hope Colin Kaepernick or Christian Ponder is available Friday morning.

Titans Tracker reviews the 2011 quarterback class

The 2011 NFL Draft is next week, and the Tennessee Titans are expected to draft a quarterback during the first two rounds of the draft.

I like quarterbacks — all of them. Gotta respect the toughest position in all of sports. I also trust my hunches. Last year, I was confident that Colt McCoy would overachieve in Cleveland, and that Jimmy Clausen would not be the answer for the Carolina Panthers. Here are my impressions of this year’s deep crop of signal callers.

They Will Not Be Titans

Cam Newton
The guy has superstar written all over him. He’s got a very strong arm, a large frame, charisma, and mental toughness. You don’t beat Alabama on the road, survive intense personal scrutiny, win the SEC championship and a BCS championship without being mentally tough. If he’s committed to greatness, he will be a top ten quarterback in four years.

Blaine Gabbert
I don’t get the hype. Then again, I didn’t get the hype about Matt Ryan coming out of Boston College. Gabbert enters the NFL draft after an average college career and a below-average third down completion percentage, yet he’s seen by many as being a top-ten pick.

Newton will be picked no later than number 3. I doubt Gabbert will slip to number 8 since there are so many quarterback-needy teams picking high in the draft. If Tennessee trades up to get Gabbert, I hope he, like Matt Ryan, becomes a better professional than his college performances indicate.

The Two Number 10s

Jake Locker
I had written off Locker due to his lack of accuracy and regression during his senior season. That is, until I saw him on Jon Gruden’s QB Camp. Locker strikes me as a bright, tough, effort guy.

During the program, Gruden told Locker, “I have a feeling about you.” I do, too, and I won’t be surprised if the Titans make room for Locker next week and reach for him in the first round.

Colin Kaepernick
I’ve watched Kaepernick play a number of times over the past four years. He has a lot of confidence and poise. However, because of his footwork and release, he is the dictionary definition of “project.”

Kaepernick believes he’s ready to start this season. I don’t, but I’d be more than happy if he’s starting for the Titans in 2012.

Ironically, if the Titans want either Locker or Kaepernick, they may have to draft one of them in the first round. Kaepernick in particular seems to be a hot commodity and has been invited to attend the draft.

The other irony is that Locker and Kaepernick both wore number 10 on his jersey.

The Safe Picks

To me, Andy Dalton and Christian Ponder are the same guy. Dalton has the stronger arm of the two and boasts a stellar win-loss record at TCU. Ponder is highly intelligent and has experience running a pro-style offense at Florida State.

Both Dalton and Ponder fit the so-called West Coast offense I expect offensive coordinator Chris Palmer to employ. Dalton has a bit more upside and would be a great second round pick.

If He’s Drafted, I May Become a Cowboys Fan

Ryan Mallett
During Mallett’s appearance on Gruden’s QB camp, fellow Arkansas Razorback John Daly made an appearance. Yes, that John Daly, the professional golfer who has struggled with alcoholism while squandering his tremendous talent.

I’m a John Daly fan. I think he’s a good guy at heart. But golf is an individual sport. If Daly was a strong-armed quarterback, would I want him leading my favorite team?

I don’t believe in accidents. To me, Daly’s involvement with Mallett is a bad omen. I hope Mike Reinfeldt and Mike Munchak don’t test my loyalty to the Titans by drafting Mallett.