The Tennessee Titans took a step back in 2012. After finishing the 2011 season with a promising 9-7 record, they didn't make the playoffs, and the Titans fell back down to 6-10. That was exactly where they were when the 2010 season came to an end. Chris Johnson hasn't quite seemed to shake whatever it is that is holding him back, though he did reach 1,000 yards once again, and second-year quarterback Jake Locker didn't improve the way the Titans hoped he would in his second season.
The Titans did not use the franchise tag for tight end Jared Cook, and would reportedly like to make another run at him in free agency. Kicker Rob Brionas signed a two-year contract extension, and the team snapped up safety George Wilson after the Bills released him.
The re-emergence of the Colts and the dominance of the Texans means that the Titans will be fighting an uphill battle to head to the playoffs, not only as a division winner, but as a Wild Card team, in the upcoming season, but stranger things have happened before.
Biggest need: Interior offensive linemen
Johnson isn't what you would call a power running back as, due to his speed and elusiveness, he is better at bouncing around the outside and beating the defense to the sidelines. He isn't one to run up the middle. However, he could be more successful inside if the Titans upgraded the interior of their offensive line. For the second straight season, the Titans struggled to run the ball up the middle, but if they can bolster the interior line, Johnson could be in for a big season, which would take pressure off the passing game and help Locker's development.
Other needs: Safety, linebacker
The Titans put a lot of eggs in the Michael Griffin basket and even though he played well in 2011, he struggled in 2012, missing multiple tackles and giving up several touchdowns. The team's other safety, Jordan Babineaux, played just as badly in 2012. When the team benched their starters, the backups struggled right along with them. The Titans will need to upgrade the position to help stop guys like Andrew Luck and Matt Schaub from throwing the ball deep every time.
Bringing Wilson into the fold helps, but at 32, Wilson is not a long-term solution to the problem. They still need a young safety to help in coverage. Cornerbacks could be high on the team's wish list as well.
The Titans could also use help at the middle linebacker position. While the outside linebackers played well, Colin McCarthy was worse in 2012 than he was in 2011 and his backup, Will Witherspoon, was just as bad, especially against the run. Finding a new middle linebacker is a must for the Titans.
NFL Draft outlook: Titans go on the clock at No. 10
The Titans earned the No. 10 overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft and they have a pick in six of the seven rounds, selecting in each round other than the sixth. With the 10th overall selection, there's no reason why the Titans can't find a talented player to help get them on par with the Colts and Texans.
Salary cap situation: A little wiggle room
The Titans had about $19 million in cap space heading into the 2013 season and that's before they make any cuts or void any contracts. Deals for Wilson and Brionas will take up some of that cap space.