Through the first three-and-a-half games of the 2013 season, things were looking up for the Tennessee Titans. They were well on their way to a victory over the New York Jets to bring their record to 3-1. Even more importantly, quarterback Jake Locker was playing the best football of his career, proving his worth as the eighth overall draft pick in 2011.
Then it all went downhill.
The Titans would go on to defeat the Jets, but Locker would suffer a hip injury early in the third quarter. After missing two games (both of which the Titans lost), Locker returned to the lineup in Week 7, but two games later, disaster struck again. This time, it was a season-ending Lisfranc injury to his right foot. Ryan Fitzpatrick did a serviceable job filling in, but it wasn't enough for the Titans to salvage their season. Tennessee went 4-3 in games started by Locker, but they won just three out of nine games with Fitzpatrick at the helm. The Titans did win their final two games of the season to finish just one game under .500, but there is still a question of what could have been had Locker stayed healthy.
With all of that in mind, it wasn't necessarily Fitzpatrick's fault that the team sputtered. In fact, the Harvard grad completed 62 percent of his passes and threw more touchdowns than interceptions. The biggest problem for the Titans offense was another down year for running back Chris Johnson, who has since been released by the team. Johnson rushed for 1,077 yards last season, which would be considered a strong season for most backs, but more was expected out of a man who rushed for 2,006 yards in 2009. He found the end zone just six times in 2013 and his salary cap hit became too much for the Titans to take. Veteran Shonn Greene was a solid back-up last season, and he should see a lot of snaps in 2014.
The Titans were very active in free agency this offseason. Arguably their biggest catch was signing wide receiver/punt returner/Mr. Everything Dexter McCluster. The Ole Miss product, who is coming off of his first Pro Bowl selection, was productive for the Kansas City Chiefs during his first four NFL seasons in a number of different capacities, and the Titans are hoping that he can fill the same roles after switching colors from red to blue. The Titans also scooped up offensive tackle Michael Oher, formerly of the Baltimore Ravens, and defensive end Shaun Phillips and linebacker Wesley Woodyard from the Denver Broncos.
Defensively, the Titans took a huge blow in free agency. Pro Bowl cornerback Alterraun Verner, who intercepted five passes in 2013, was signed by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to inhabit an area that was once known as Revis Island.
In the draft, the Titans further fortified the offense by selecting former Michigan offensive tackle Taylor Lewan with the 11th overall selection. Lewan is slated to start immediately at right tackle opposite of former Pro Bowl left tackle Michael Roos. In the second round, the Titans added former Washington running back Bishop Sankey, who could make the biggest impact of any rookie running back.
The last time the Eagles and Titans met was 2010, with Tennessee coming away with a 37-19 victory. Eagles fans may remember that game for Kenny Britt's seven-catch, 225-yard, three-touchdown performance. The good news for Eagles fans heading into this year's meeting is that Britt is no longer a member of the Titans, as the wide receiver signed a deal with the St. Louis Rams earlier this offseason.