Titans must decide if Mettenberger can be their QB
TERESA M. WALKER
Dec. 31, 2014
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Zach Mettenberger thinks he is the answer to the Tennessee Titans' quarterback problem, not Marcus Mariota or Jameis Winston.
The Titans have four months to decide if they agree before going on the clock with the second overall pick in the 2015 draft.
"It's an important decision for us, for the organization going forward, and I think that that's one that we have time to make that decision," coach Ken Whisenhunt said. "We're going to go through that process and look at it. I'm sure in time we'll come to the right one."
Whisenhunt wrapped up his first year with a 2-14 record that is this franchise's worst since 1994. The Titans tried one last time to see if Jake Locker might be their quarterback. He didn't get the chance to return after his second injury in five games before the Titans turned to Mettenberger, a sixth-round draft pick out of LSU.
Mettenberger started six games before hurting his right, throwing shoulder, and the season slipped away with 10 straight losses, including 14 of the final 15.
Mettenberger finished with 1,412 yards passing, becoming the eighth quarterback to lead the Titans in passing in eight seasons. Tennessee now has struck out on two quarterbacks selected with a top eight draft pick or better since 2006. The Titans also extended their playoff drought to six seasons.
"We didn't get it done, so we've got work to do to get to that point," Whisenhunt said. "Whenever you have a season like we did, there's going to be changes. You're going to get better. We've got work to do. We understand that."
Whisenhunt brought in both a new offense and had defensive coordinator Ray Horton switch the Titans from a 4-3 scheme to a 3-4. Neither produced, with the Titans ranking 29th in total offense and 27th in total defense. They couldn't run, scoring only six touchdowns on the ground all season, a franchise-low in a 16-game season. They also couldn't defend against the run, ranking ahead of only Cleveland.
Titans president and CEO Tommy Smith insists he is sticking with general manager Ruston Webster and Whisenhunt despite fans wanting both fired. Whisenhunt knows he's on the clock.
"It better get better than this, or you'll be talking to somebody else next year," Whisenhunt said.
Here are a few things to know about the Titans:
THE METT SHOW: The rookie quarterback played in seven games, starting six, and was 107 of 179 for 1,412 yards, averaging 7.89 yards per attempt. He was sacked 18 times and posted a passer rating of 83.4 with eight touchdowns and seven interceptions. Mettenberger said he will be sticking around Nashville for the offseason working to improve and get stronger a year after spending his time rehabilitating a torn ACL.
"Mettenberger has a bright future ahead of him," safety Michael Griffin said.
BAD OFFENSE: Blame the constant turnover on the offensive line or Titans slow to pick up Whisenhunt's new offense. But Tennessee scored 254 points, this franchise's lowest total since 1984, when the then-Houston Oilers scored 240 in a 16-game season. The Titans also finished with the worst point differential at minus-184 since 1984 (197).
ROSTER TURNOVER: The Titans put 15 players on injured reserve and played seven offensive tackles, five tight ends and four quarterbacks. They go into the offseason with at least 17 players with expiring contracts, including both punter Brett Kern and kicker Ryan Succop. The Titans also have to decide if it's worth keeping struggling right tackle Michael Oher and left guard Andy Levitre.
ROOS' FUTURE: Left tackle Michael Roos finished his season on injured reserve, and he said Monday he may be leaning toward retirement after having a version of microfracture surgery on his right knee. The longest-tenured player currently with this team after 10 seasons, Roos' contract is up in March. He said he will see how he feels when done with rehabilitation in a couple months.
SENIOR BOWL: Holding the No. 2 pick overall gave the Titans the coaching assignment at the Senior Bowl, and Whisenhunt said he'd like the chance to start evaluating college players up close. This franchise last picked second overall in 1984 when it took tackle Dean Steinkuhler out of Nebraska.
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