Biddle's Beat: Wed. June 20, 2012 - WKRN News 2

Biddle's Beat: Wed. June 20, 2012

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The Titans obviously believe safety Michael Griffin has some gas left in the tank.

They signed him to a five-year contract, although I suspect he will not see the full five years on the field.

The Titans signed Griffin because they need all the experience and leadership they can find on the defensive side of the ball. They put a franchise tag on him earlier this year. He never signed the tender, but was present on all the preseason workouts.

Defensive coordinator Jerry Gray's first year in that position did not produce the results needed for the Titans to be a serious playoff team capable of winning some post-season games.

The Titans ranked tied for 18 in total defense, giving up an average of 355.1 yards a game. The failed to get sufficient pressure on quarterbacks, recording only 24 sacks, one more than the Bills, last in the NFL with 23 sacks.

The Titans had defensive holes last season and Gray hopes some draft picks and some off-season pickups will translate into a significant impact on the team.

The Titans should be potent on offense. They have a solid one-two punch at quarterback in veteran Matt Hasselbeck and quarterback of the future Jake Locker.

The NFL is a quarterback driven league and the Titans have upgraded the wide receiver position, provided they can stay on the field and off the injured list.

They need a healthy Kenny Britt to lead the way. Nate Washington is coming off a personal best season. Rookie first round draft pick Kendall Wright appears to be the real deal, but it's way too early to tell how soon he can master the jump from college to the NFL.
LaVelle Hawkins had his best year and this needs to be a breakout season for him.

The tight ends should be a strength of the offense.
 
Running back Chris Johnson is determined to prove he is a better running back than the one who eclipsed the 2,000-yard mark, then tailed off the past two seasons.

The offensive line should be in good shape. It is being retooled by Hall of Famers Mike Munchak and offensive line coach Bruce Matthews.

But it is the defense that will either make or break this team.

Five of the team's seven draft class are defensive players, a sign that they recognize the deficiencies.

Griffin will be called on to become more of a vocal leader, to help the young pups find their way. He hasn't been in that role before, but with the loss of Cortland Finnegan and his fiery on-field personality, it is up to Griffin to pick up the slack.

"Michael is a talented and successful young player for us,'' Titans General Manager Ruston Webster said in a press release.

"The goal is to keep a core of talented young players together and let them grow and Griff fits in that group,'' Webster added.

"He showed a great deal of professionalism in how he dealt with this situation and he is invested in making this team better.''

Look for Griffin to be more of a centerfielder in Gray's perfect game plan. He has gambled and lost on some occasions, but made two Pro Bowls in his first five years and had 17 interceptions.

Griffin started all 16 games in last season's 9-7 season. He had 96 tackles, which ranked third on the team. He managed only two interceptions and that number has to improve this season.

The last five years show Griffin ranked fourth among safeties in interceptions and first among NFL safeties in Griffin's 2007 draft class.

The last five seasons could have been better for Griffin. The Titans are taking it to the bank that the next five will be better.

Contact Sports Columnist Joe Biddle at joebiddle11@gmail.com.

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