The excitement surrounding the Tennessee Titans' somewhat surprising 2-1 start has been dampered thanks to Kenny Britt's season-ending knee injury suffered against Denver last weekend.
Emerging as one of the league's most potent playmakers, losing Kenny is a huge loss for the Titans' passing attack.
However, as they always say, "The show must go on." While it's a daunting task, here are a few reasons why life without Kenny Britt may not be so bad after all for the Tennessee Titans.
Matt Hasselbeck: X-Factor
The "Spread the Wealth" passing attack has been Matt Hasselbeck's forte during his long and prosperous NFL career. During his triumphant days in Seattle, Hasselbeck never had a dominant receiver; Koren Robinson, Darrell Jackson and Bobby Engram, solid wideouts but nowhere near what you'd consider as prime #1 targets, each had 1,000 yard seasons catching passes from Hasselbeck.
Hasselbeck completed passes to a whopping 11 different receivers last Sunday against Denver, which should be a preview for things to come as the Titans attempt to persevere through Britt's absence.
Since he's accustomed to getting many guys involved in the passing game, Hasselbeck's presence should serve as the biggest ally for the Titans as they attempt to fight the battle also known as the NFL season without the services of their #1 receiving target.
Britt's injury is an opportunity for other Titan receivers to step up their games.
First in line is a guy who's been getting it done while Britt was on the field. Nate Washington has been a pleasant surprise this season, leaving his stone hands behind while catching nearly everything in sight so far in 2011. With Britt no longer a part of the equation, Washington should serve as the team's #1 receiving threat.
While he doesn't possess Britt's physical talents, Washington is a capable receiver who fits the mold of the previously mentioned Seahawk wideouts such as Koren Robinson, Darrell Jackson and Bobby Engram, who were able to have success catching footballs from Hasselbeck.
Second-year WR Damian Williams is the guy who will take Britt's place in the starting lineup. Williams showed flashes of playmaking potential in limited opportunities during his rookie season. While he's still a bit green, "D-Will" has the talent to succeed; it's just a matter of whether or not he's ready to make his mark in the Titans' passing attack.
Lavelle Hawkins is another youngster who should have increased reps due to Britt's absence. He's been a bit of an enigma since he's entered the league, displaying his talents during the preseason while coming up short when the regular season starts.
Speaking of enigmas, talented TE Jared Cook should also see a few more opportunities in the passing game.
Finally, to replace Britt's presence on the roster, former St. Louis Ram speedster Donnie Avery was recently signed. He's suffered a bit from injuries as of late but when healthy, he's a downfield threat with the ability to stretch the field. It may take him some time to get acclimated, but don't be surprised if Avery makes a contribution down the road.
Losing Britt hurts, but as long as Matt Hasselbeck's able to stay healthy, he'll do a good job of spreading the ball around and moving the team up and down the field in the passing game.
With a solid and steady veteran QB at the helm who's accustomed to having success without the presence of a stud WR, despite Britt's absence, I'm expecting positive results out of the Titans' passing attack in 2011.
Agree or disagree with me? Feel free to chime in with your always welcomed commentary below.
I hope we'll see a fair number of plays out of trips formations with Cook lined up on the other side. He isn't as sudden as Britt, but he can be a nice deep threat. I'd also like to give big kudos to Nate - not only is he getting open, but he's catching everything.
Also, I would just like to say thank you to Pete Prisco. He is clearly the only analyst that has actually watched any tape on the Titans before making pronouncements about Chris Johnson: http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/story/15660020/after-further-review-johnsons-struggles-start-with-oline
It's going to be interesting, but I think we need to look to the Broncos game as a model for how the Titans will play for the rest of the season (though hopefully with a more effective running game). The Titans have said that they are looking to replace Britt by committee so we should expect each of the receivers, RBs and TEs to step up rather than Williams or Hawkins to become the guy. I'm also intrigued to see what Avery can do - I thought he looked pretty good in the pre-season game and if he has recovered from the injury could well take over the #1 slot by the end of the year.