We learned a few things about the Tennessee Titans through the first half of the 2010 season.
For example, just because Chris Johnson says he plans to shatter certain records doesn’t mean it’s going to happen. Kerry Collins can still be a pretty good quarterback when needed, and defensive line coach Jim Washburn can turn almost anyone willing to work and play hard enough into a sack master.
With that in mind, we grade the Titans on their performance in the first half of the season, which included several dominant performances (victories over Oakland and Jacksonville as well as one quarter against Philadelphia) and a few disappointing ones.
Keep in mind, there are eight games remaining.
Vince Young’s completion percentage (59.0) and yards per attempt (8.2) are well ahead of his career averages coming into the year. Kerry Collins is the security blanket he’s supposed to be. Star pupil: Young
Running backs C
While it’s true that Chris Johnson is very much in contention for the league’s rushing title once again, he has relied a little too much on his flash. There have not been enough gains of 4, 5 or 6 yards to complement his signature long runs. Star pupil: Johnson
Wide receivers B+
A group expected to play little more than a complementary role instead has featured starring turns by Kenny Britt and Nate Washington, as well as the emergence of Damian Williams. Star pupil: Britt
Tight ends B-
The roles of Bo Scaife, Craig Stevens and Jared Cook are well-defined. Scaife and Stevens have done what’s expected. Everyone’s still waiting on Cook’s big-play potential to show. Star pupil: Scaife
Offensive line C-
The Titans have converted just 17 percent (worst in the NFL) of short-yardage runs to the left side, where their only Pro Bowl player, left tackle Michael Roos, resides. The good news is that with 15 sacks allowed, they are on pace for their fewest since 2006. Star pupil: David Stewart
Defensive line A
Jason Babin and Dave Ball already have set career highs for sacks, and numerous injuries, including a season-ender to first-round pick Derrick Morgan, have done nothing to slow this group. Star pupil: Jason Jones
Stephen Tulloch is the team’s leading tackler in addition to being a better-than-expected pass defender. Free agent addition Will Witherspoon is a bona fide playmaker, and the depth, already good, will get better with the pending return of veteran David Thornton. Star pupil: Witherspoon
Defensive backs B
Michael Griffin has been reborn following a down year, and Alterraun Verner has been better than advertised. The 13 interceptions and 6.5 yards per attempt against are very good, but the Titans still are in the bottom third of the league in passing yards allowed. Star pupil: Griffin
Rob Bironas is second in the league in scoring. He has missed just one field goal in 12 attempts and has made all seven tries from 40 yards and beyond. He has not yet been asked to make a game-winning kick.
At his current pace, Brett Kern will become the fourth player in franchise history, and the first in more than a decade, to average better than 44 yards per punt. His ratio of punts inside the 20 (11) to touchbacks (two) is among the best in the league.
Coverage units C+
No other area of the team received more attention during the offseason and training camp. The punt coverage has been significantly better than a year ago, but the kick coverage has not been as consistent as hoped. Star pupil: Tim Shaw
Return units A-
Tennessee ranks among the top 10 in the league in both punt returns and kickoff returns. Marc Mariani is a consistent threat in both who has made many more big plays than mistakes. Star pupil: Mariani
(Note: Statistics and league rankings are based on information through Week 8)