Thanks to a brand new $100 million contract courtesy of Daniel Snyder's seemingly bottomless wallet, the Tennessee Titans are now faced with the unenviable challenge of replacing the league's most dominant defensive tackle; Albert Haynesworth.
Al's run-stuffing abilities and his 8.5 sacks in 2008 will surely be missed. Kyle Vanden Bosch and Tony Brown are probably already reminiscing about the days when Al's penchant for attracting double and triple-teams enabled them to take advantage of one-on-one matchups.
Despite the enormity of the task that lies ahead, I'm confident that Mike Reinfeldt and Co. will come up with the right mix of players needed to lessen the blow of Haynesworth's departure.
Let's take a look at how the Tennessee Titans might cope without #92 in 2009 and beyond.
Time to step up, Jason Jones
Chris Johnson wasn't the only Titan rookie to make a great impression in 2008. Jason Jones made his presence felt against the World Champion Pittsburgh Steelers when he dismantled their offensive line during his 3.5 sack performance. Despite a foot injury that forced him to miss a few games, JJ ended the year with a respectable 5 sacks and 31 tackles.
Even Haynesworth himself was very complimentary of the rookie from tiny Eastern Michigan:
"Including my rookie year, I've never seen a rookie that far along...if he keeps working like he is, he's going to be really, really good."
I'm not expecting Jason to attain Haynesworth-type numbers in only his second season in the NFL. However, if he continues to improve, Jones has what it takes to become a pretty darn good defensive tackle in this league.
Needless to say, I'm excited about Jason's potential and with Big Al out of the picture, Jason will have his chance to shine in 2009.
Step right up, Jovan Haye?
According to the Nashville City Paper, former Buc DT Jovan Haye is scheduled to visit Baptist Sports Park sometime this week. A Vandy alum, Haye is several meals away from the 300 lb mark (285lbs). Despite his lack of size, he's a pretty good pass rusher, as evidenced by his six sacks with Tampa in 2007.
Haye isn't the space-eater that Haynesworth was, but his ability to get after the passer may blend in well as a part of the Titans' DT rotation, if he is signed.
Bracing for life without Fat Albert
B.J. Raji and Peria Jerry are the two highest-rated defensive tackles that will be available in this April's NFL Draft. Unfortunately, both are expected to be long gone by the time the Titans are on the clock.
Raji's college teammate at Boston College, Ron Brace, could be an intriguing option in the second or third round. He's massive (6'3", 330 lbs) and judging by scouting reports, is pretty quick off the snap for a man of his stature.
Despite their abilities to get after the quarterback, potential starting DT's Jason Jones and Tony Brown are both under 300 lbs. Getting a guy like Brace would provide the Titans with a space-eater who could make his huge presence felt on running downs.
Your turn, guys. What's your plan for replacing Big #92?