|** Ian Eagle|
TITANS ONLINE: The Titans have won three consecutive games and are currently in sole possession of first place in the AFC South. Are the Titans an elite team at this point?
EAGLE: I'm not sure you can put them in the 'elite' class right now because when push comes to shove, we're still not sure which quarterback is better suited to run the Titans offense. With other supposed 'elite' teams in the NFL, there is no question who their quarterback is week in and week out. Both Vince Young and Kerry Collins have proven they can win games, but over the long haul which one could lead the team to the Super Bowl? We don't know that answer yet. Their styles are so different and thus the offense is diverse based on who's under center.
TITANS ONLINE: Do you feel the Titans need to win the AFC South to make the playoffs, or will there be a wild card team that comes out of the AFC South this season?
EAGLE: It's too early to tell, but when you look at the landscape in the AFC it appears the wild card teams will come out of the East and North. The AFC is absolutely loaded! There is more balance in the AFC South, which means these teams will probably beat each other up and that could limit the division winner as the only team in the post-season. Indianapolis is dealing with some serious injuries, Houston is a tough team to figure out, and Jacksonville is hitting a decline. The opportunity is certainly there for Tennessee, and the way they're playing on the road, they've got to feel good about where they currently stand.
TITANS ONLINE: Going forward, how do you see the emergence of Kenny Britt affecting defenders at the line of scrimmage trying to stop Chris Johnson?
EAGLE: Every team in the NFL is searching for balance on offense, now the Titans have two of the best 'playmakers' in the league -- one on the ground and the other through the air. Kenny Britt is the prototype you're looking for at wide receiver -- physical, dangerous after the catch; he has a chance to be a special player. I think he benefitted from the fact that Collins is a pure pocket passer, and Young doesn't quite have that approach yet. As incredible as Chris Johnson was last season, it is obvious that Tennessee is much improved offensively in 2010 because Britt has emerged as a legitimate weapon. In the long run, Johnson will be better off because opponents will have to pick their poison on who to stop.
TITANS ONLINE: What has been the key to the Titans currently ranking second in the NFL in scoring this season?
EAGLE: Mike Heimerdinger is one of the better play callers in the NFL. He is willing to adjust based on personnel and circumstances. I think he has helped Young significantly and understands how to get the most out of Johnson. The numbers are astronomical, this team is scoring 30 or more points on a regular basis, and initially NFL observers just assumed it was an anomaly. It isn't.
TITANS ONLINE: Why does this defense continue to fly under the national radar, despite giving up the second fewest points among teams that have played seven games this season?
EAGLE: There is no bona fide superstar on defense, and that's why the unit as a whole is not getting the attention they deserve. Cortland Finnegan, Michael Griffin, Stephen Tulloch, etc. are all highly respected defensive players, but the Titans strength is in the sum of its parts. You get national recognition by winning, and the more victories Tennessee piles up, the more people around the league will be talking about them. With that said, I think they kind of like the 'under the radar' tag and Defensive Coordinator Chuck Cecil uses it as a motivational tool for this group. When my broadcast partner Dan Fouts and I met with the team prior to the season opener against Oakland, we must have heard the term 'we play with a chip on our shoulder' from every defensive player we spoke with. That's not a coincidence, that's a mindset.