By Ron Wynn
NASHVILLE, TN — The Tennessee Titans had a wonderful regular season and very disappointing, short-lived playoff run. The personnel decisions that are made between now and training camp will be critical in determining whether they can take the next step and make it to the Super Bowl. Defensive improvement is paramount for a club that finished near the bottom in every significant category and in particular had a feeble pass rush which in turn contributed to their inability to stop teams from converting third downs and extending drives,
A major factor in improving the pass rush could come in the acquisition of former three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt, who asked for and received his release from the Texans recently. While no one thinks Watt at this point is the player he once was, he’d still represent a big addition to the Titans’ roster. However a reported 10 teams have expressed interest, and Watt has reportedly said that Tennessee is among the teams he’s considering,
The Titans also could re-sign Jadeveon Clowney, who also had a disappointing season that was cut short by injury. Clowney only signed a one-year deal, and could conceivably come back at a lesser salary. Despite missing eight games and not registering any sacks, Clowney still offered some help for Jeffrey Simmons in terms of quarterback pressures. The Titans also need to decide whether to re-sign DaQuan Jones, one of several free agents.
The team also has several significant free agent decisions to make. The biggest concerns Corey Davis, who had two disappointing games at the end of the year, but overall had a very good year. He will certainly be pursued by other teams should the Titans choose to let him go, Harold Landry, who was their best pass rusher among the linebackers, is also a free agent, and the team may also be in the market for a kicker. though Stephen Gostkowski had a strong second half after a very shaky start.
Ultimately it all comes down to whether the Titans want to keep their core, or make some significant additions. But whatever decisions are made, they hopefully will provide the boost that the team needs to make the extra step that’s been missing the past two seasons.