Once the season is over, it's always important to get away from football and recharge the batteries. As a player, it's a time to reflect on what transpired over the past year, using those thoughts as motivation to get a head-start in the off-season program and to hit the ground running in the upcoming year.
The success of every team always starts with the off-season program. It's a time when everyone comes together and works to achieve a common goal. The Titans have done a great job of that in the past and they need to do it again and recommit themselves to going even further next season.
The Titans had a tremendous season in 2007, going 10-6 and making the playoffs for the first time in four years. They jumped out so fast that everyone thought this young team would end up in the league's upper echelon. They haven't reached that point yet, but it was still a successful season. However, they can't rest on their two-game improvement from a year ago. Obviously, there are still things to improve on.
The players need to take care of themselves, making sure that their bodies are at 100 percent when things get started next season. They also need to get on the same page mentally. They made some mistakes towards the end of last season that you can't afford to make during a playoff run. The really good teams don't make those mistakes, and those are the teams that normally advance in the playoffs.
As a team, you pull the positives and negatives out of the season and go back to work. That's what it's all about.
With the departure of Norm Chow, there is going to be another learning process getting to know Mike Heimerdinger and his offense. But players are really going to have to commit to learning it, especially Vince. The quarterback and offensive coordinator need to be on the same page.
For the younger guys that are going into their third and fourth years, it's really time to get things going now. There's no more time for babysitting. It's time for those players to elevate their games.
For Vince Young and LenDale White, this off-season will be critical for them as far as doing all of the necessary things to take their games to the next level.
LenDale now has a full NFL playing season under his belt. He was banged up this past season, but he showed up on Sundays. He should now realize the work he needs to put in during the off-season to become an upper-echelon back in this league. That will also help him avoid the nicks and nagging injuries from week to week.
Vince and LenDale are on pace to reach the highest goals, similar to what Steve McNair and Eddie George accomplished here during their careers. It's just a matter of both of them committing to the program. Eddie and Steve had tunnel vision as far as wanting to have success as a team first. The work they put in carried over to many of the other players in the locker room. Vince and LenDale can have that same impact.
Vince needs to understand that he's the guy everyone looks up to. He needs to set the tone in the off-season by being around and working with the receivers to get his Master's Degree in the offense. That also includes working on reading coverages, watching his game tape, and examining his footwork. Vince and LenDale are both talented, but now they need to get the little things down — the mental part of it — to make major differences in games next season.
Everyone saw what Vince did in 2006. He did some things that haven't been done around here in a while. He set the bar, and once you set the bar and you don't reach it week after week, people will question what's going on and your progression as a player. As an athlete, you always have that target on your back. All eyes are on you. It can be unfair at times, but that's the tradeoff when you're in the spotlight and making good money. You have to deal with the criticism. Eli Manning has gone through a world-wind of criticism and look where he's at right now. He did a good job of staying positive and even keeled. He doesn't let the emotions get to him week after week and just continues to work on his craft. That's what Vince needs to work towards — not worrying about the outside stuff. That's always going to be there no matter how successful you are. He simply needs to concentrate on football and know that he's putting in a good day's work.
During every season-ending meeting, Coach Fisher tells his players that this team isn't going to be together any more. There's usually a third of the team that's turned over each season. Guys are let go or they don't re-sign and end up going to other teams. What Mike Reinfeldt and this coaching staff needs to add in the off-season is critical. I don't think there are enough explosive players on this team that can take a slant pass and go the distance. I think they need to add more players.
There's a good core group here, but there's always room for improvement. If there's a chance to help your football team, I believe Jeff Fisher's philosophy is to go get that player. Competition will always be there and that will make this team better. The defense is only going to get better. And on offense, if management can add a couple of players to help Vince out, this team can definitely get to where it got this past year and beyond.