Today's absurd prediction:
Vince Young's second season will be just bad enough that people believe the Madden Curse had something to do with it.
Statistically, all he'll have to do is stay on par. Another year of 51.5% passing, 12/13 TD/INT ratio, and a 66.7 QB rating will be bad enough for conspiracy theorists to believe that John Madden personally caused Young to have a terrible year, because the ridiculous W/L record and Rookie of the Year award leave the impression that Young is coming off of a Ben Roethlisberger-esque rookie campaign. Improvement will be expected, and if it doesn't happen, the Curse will be blamed.
Here's the breakdown for the Tennessee Titans:
Coaching Changes: N/A
The Titans' biggest strength right now is the coaching staff, and they lucked out that no one hired OC Norm Chow or DC Jim Schwartz as a new head coach. And last year's winning streak that propelled the Titans to 8-8 saved Jeff Fisher's job, which is great for the franchise. Fisher is one of the best coaches in the league who hasn't yet won a Super Bowl, and losing him would hurt the development of Young and the team's chances for success in the coming years.
Michael Griffin, picked at #19, was born to play safety, yet he is currently listed as their nickel back on Yahoo! Sports' depth chart. He's a hard hitter who adjusts well to the ball, exactly the kind of guy you want manning the middle. But the Titans needed to replace the suspended Pacman Jones (he wasn't suspended yet at the time of the draft, but the writing was on the wall), so if they were going to take a CB, Chris Houston or Aaron Ross should have been the answer. RB Chris Henry may have also been a bit of a reach, but his speed complements LenDale White well. Now that Chris Brown has been re-signed, they have two upright-running speedsters who can fill in when the other gets injured. The Titans padded their WR depth chart with rookies, picking Paul Williams, Chris Davis, and Joel Filani in rounds 3, 4, and 5, respectively. Considering this and the fact that they had 10 overall picks, the theory must have been to spread a huge net and increase the chances of getting lucky. I'd say it's just as likely that one of their seven 4th-7th rounders becomes a superstar as their first-rounder.
Player Movement: D-
Pacman Jones. And that's all I need to say about him. The Titans also lost three major offensive weapons, Travis Henry, Bobby Wade, and Drew Bennett. That can't help Young. Justin Gage, who couldn't emerge as a decent option in WR-starved Chicago, was brought in to fill the void along with the three rookies, which leaves David Givens and Brandon Jones as the starters. And Brett Favre is complaining about a lack of options. They made one good free agent pickup, taking Nick Harper from Indianapolis, which not only helps them but hurts a division rival. Other than that, the biggest name is Tim Rattay, who will compete with Kerry Collins to back up Young.
Due to the tiebreaker over the Jaguars, they draw the #2 teams from the East and North divisions: the Jets and the Bengals, both of whom are young and look to be stronger than last year. They play the entire AFC West and NFC South, which means a few easy matchups and a few very hard ones. They have a nice stretch after the bye week that could give them some momentum: Atlanta, at Tampa Bay, at Houston, Oakland. But after that, the easiest win is the home game vs. Houston (and division rivals are never a gimme), followed by a road trip to Kansas City (and the Chiefs are deadly at home in December). I expect the season to end in such disappointment that Jeff Fisher may end up elsewhere next year.
Speaking of Fisher, his contract is up at the end of the year. He and owner Bud Adams have both stated publicly that they want to keep Fisher in Tennessee for the long term, but that's what coaches are supposed to say so there's no distraction during the season. We've learned from many examples that no one knows who's going to quit, retire, or get fired until it actually happens. The fact that a long-term deal hasn't been signed yet speaks louder than the public statements. Furthermore, the Titans have behaved uncharacteristically this offseason for a team that barely missed the playoffs the previous year. Usually that team will make a few personnel moves to get them over the hump. The Titans let half of their offensive playmakers go and loaded up on draft picks, like a team in rebuilding mode. Like a team that knows its head coach will change soon.
The Record: 6-10
We learned from Miami last year (ha - remember when Dr. Z made them his Super Bowl pick?), as well as defending champion Pittsburgh, that end-of-year momentum does not necessarily mean success the following season. I believe in Vince Young's future, but I have no idea who he's going to throw to, or who is going to establish a dangerous running attack to open up the passing game. The defense has strengths, but isn't the elite unit that would be needed to overcome the offensive deficiencies.