Wednesday, March 13, 2013

March 16th Junior Day Visitors

Jalen Hurd, Beech High School
Can you smell that? That's spring right around the corner which means one thing to the Volunteer faithful: our last "fix" of football until the fall.

It also brings on curiosity seekers and onlookers in the form of former Vol Lettermen and recruits anxious to see what the new-look Vol offense and defense is actually going to look like -- or to get a better idea at the very least. Much of the meat of the O & D will not be on display until Fall and likely not during practices and scrimmages open to the media and fans.

I've compiled a list of visitors who will be here for Tennessee's third Junior Day of the year this Saturday which coincides nicely with the first official scrimmage. Keep in mind, not everyone on this list will make it in -- that's almost always the case -- and there will be perhaps dozens not listed who will end up showing. With that in mind here is who will be in Knoxville. I will try and update this list as new names are added.

  • CB D'Andre Payne
  • JUCO OL Dontavius Blair
  • WR DeMarre Kitt
  • S Nick Glass
  • S Cortez McDowell
  • S Emmanuel Smith
  • LB Josh Smith (2015)
  • DT Matt Elam
  • LB Keeyan James
  • RB Jalen Hurd
  • S Rashaan Gaulden
  • LB Bryson Allen-Williams
  • RB Sedrick Palmer
  • DE Andrew Williams
  • RB Daryl Rollins
  • QB Penny Smith
  • RB Michael Lockhart
  • WR Miles Autry
  • DT Mike Sawyers
  • CB Rico McGraw (2015)
  • WR Kenton Baker
  • DE Lorenzo Carter*
  • OL Drew Richmond (2015)
  • RB D'Andre Ferby
  • LB Petera Wilson*
  • WR/DT QB Terry Googer
  • WR Rashad Canty
  • WR Josh Malone
  • DT Chris Williams
  • QB David Cornwell
  • LB Cornelius Watson (2015)
  • WR Emanuel Beal
  • DE Andrew Butcher (2015)
  • OT Orlando Brown
  • OT Steven Moss
  • OL Alex Bars
  • RB Racean Thomas
* denotes uncertainty

Friday, March 8, 2013

My Thoughts on the Jake Locker Accuracy Tour

The Jake Locker "Accuracy Tour" is in full swing and I was going to sit it out, or at least watch from the bleachers, but I elected to join the party. That's me I'm just a a social butterfly that way. I wrote extensively about Locker, his injury and his performance last season and analyzed individual games if you are interested. You can find them on this blog. I concluded that the Titans did Locker a disservice by electing to keep him on the active roster and  the "Accuracy Tour" just reinforces that opinion.

Much was made of Locker's accuracy coming out of college and there is some foundation for it certainly. He struggled his last year at Washington behind a putrid offensive line and the results were fairly predictable. Sound familiar Titans fans? The Titans drafted Locker at the overall 8th pick in the 2011 draft, and he is now heading into his third year in the league.

What many forget is how electric and exciting Locker was to watch when he debuted in 2011. He didn't get a lot of playing time but made the most of it leaving everyone to think big days were ahead for him. After a much heralded quarterback competition between him and Matt Hasselbeck, he was positioned to enter 2012 with high hopes.

Locker actually looked pretty good his first 3 games before suffering the most severe injury to his left, non throwing, shoulder against Houston in game 4. Against New England, where he initially injured the shoulder, he was 23 of 32 for 229 yards, a completion percentage (Hi!) of 71.9, a QBA of 89.2, 1 TD, 1 INT, a bad lost fumble, and 2 sacks. He rushed for 11 yards on 2 attempts (5.5 avg).

In game 2 against San Diego he wasn't as good going 15 of 30 for 174 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 0 sacks, and 0 fumbles. He rushed 2 times for 21 yards (10.5 avg). Game 3 against Detroit was perhaps his best game of the year where he was 29 of 42 for 378 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs, 0 sacks and 1 fumble lost. He rushed 4 times for 35 yards (8.8 avg).

After getting hurt at the beginning of Game 4, he missed the next 5 games and it was widely reported his left shoulder injury would require surgery after the season. He suffered a dislocation and his shoulder continued to pop in and out during the course of the season. I invite you to peruse my game blogs where I talk extensively about his guarding issues and how it affected his play.

In any event, his play after returning from injury was sporadic at best. Much is made of the inability of the Titans to score early on when he was the quarterback but those issues continued even after Hasselbeck assumed the helm. The Titans offense was offensive for many reasons: offensive line issues and injuries, a lackluster and then spotty running game, the disappearance of Kenny Britt in games, the "Palmer issue" amongst others. On top of that the emergence of young quarterbacks like RGIII, Russell Wilson, Colin Kaepernick and Andrew Luck made Locker's struggles look even worse.

I also wrote and I believe this more than ever that it would be unfair to judge Locker on the 2012 season because of the injury and the other issues facing the offense. The "Accuracy Tour" was as predictable as it is maddening and the Titans are completely to blame for it.

I know hindsight is 20/20 but they did Locker a disservice by keeping him active after it was patently obvious he was struggling. The "Accuracy Tour" is a direct result of their decision to keep playing him instead of shutting him down and putting Hasselbeck back in charge.

Speaking of hindsight, I think in time people will look back on the Titans 2012 and 2013 seasons as the years where decisions were made because people were concerned about losing their jobs. Time will tell whether those decisions worked out. For Locker, it means 2013 is a big year for him.

You can find Locker's full stats here:  Locker NFL stats

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Titans Agree on a 2 year deal with Rob Bironas

Today, the Titans agreed on a 2 year deal for kicker Rob Bironas. Jim Wyatt reports the deal worth roughly 6.7 million. I asked Wyatt if he had contract details but heard no response. The Titans have not released any contract details.

I have repeatedly wrote that I thought the Titans should tag Bironas but it appeared the emphasis was on Jared Cook instead. When the Titans elected not to wage a battle over whether the franchise tag definition for Cook would be at wide receiver or tight end, I looked for them to tag Bironas. They didn't.

The franchise tag for place kickers was set at 2,977,000.00 while the transition tag was set at 2,700,000.00. I got my tag numbers from this excellent article NFL Franchise Tag 2013. Rob Bironas is 35 years old and while kickers generally have a longer shelf life it has been reported the Titans were considering a kicker in the draft. A backup plan is certainly not a bad option. Given the numbers involved, on the surface it appears the franchise tag would have been the wiser move.

UPDATE: According to Tom Gower the tag would have been the greater of the two franchise tags, or 120 percent of the player's salary, which would be $4.4 million. You can find Tom Gower's blog on that topic here Total Titans Franchise Tag Analysis.