With the Philadelphia Eagles and Tennessee Titans scheduled to face off on Sunday, I reached out to our friends/enemies over at Music City Miracles for some inside perspective. The great Jordan Churchill kindly took the time to answer my questions.
Let's take a look at his answers.
1) The Titans are dead in the water with a 2-8 record. What's there left to play for?
It's all about evaluation for next season. Titans fans have been in that mode for the past few weeks, and realistically it's going to take another draft/free agency to get this team where the new regime want to be. As far as the rest of this campaign, it will be looking to see how Zach Mettenberger and the other young starters on the roster develop. The Titans have gotten more out of this rookie class than most teams in the NFL this year, with a new starting QB, LT, RB, and ILB. A competitive game against the Steelers last week gives some hope that things can, and will, improve down the stretch.
2) To what extent has rookie quarterback Zach Mettenberger impressed? Is there any hope he can be the team's franchise quarterback moving forward?
Mettenberger is a rookie, and thus makes his fair share of rookie mistakes. That said, he is doing things that I haven't seen a Titans QB do in over a half-decade. While he is yet to notch his first win as a starter, he has shown that he can make all the throws and he has a solid foundation. I think there is plenty of optimism around Nashville that he can be the guy moving forward, and we have until the end of the season to get a better idea of whether that's the case or not.
3 - What does the future hold for Jake Locker? He's scheduled to be a free agent after this season. Why did he fail in Tennessee and do you think it's possible he could succeed elsewhere?
Locker is the kind of guy you want as the face of your franchise. He's a stand up guy with tons of leadership and all the intangibles. Ultimately, it was his health and his lack of consistency that cost him the gig with the Titans. I think it's certainly possible for him to have success in a system that better fits his skill set, and in an environment where the pressure is less. As you know, in today's NFL, coaches don't have long to get the team on the winning track, and waiting for a fourth/fifth year pro to turn the light on is a losing strategy.
4 - Name a Titans player on offense AND defense the Eagles will need to watch out for.
Tight end Delanie Walker has been one of, if not the best, Titans offensive player this year. He is working back from a concussion and may or may not play. If not, Kendall Wright is a guy that can slice up a defensive secondary if you let him, and the Titans have been working him down the field a little more in recent weeks. Defensively, the Eagles need to get a hat on ILB Avery Williamson. The rookie linebacker has been a force since entering the starting lineup, and he can rush the passer from the interior too.
5 - Let's hear a score prediction. Who wins this game and why?
I've got the Eagles taking the win, 31-24. I think the Titans will give them some surprising resistance, but in the end will prove unable to deal with the Eagles offensive talent. LeSean McCoy is a nightmare for the Titans, even in a down year, and the Eagles speed out wide may present issues. If the Titans offense can play as well as they did last week (or better, since they were only on the field for 39 snaps), then they will be competitive. But predicting a win is a mighty stretch at this point.