Expectations were rather high for newly-signed free agent Nate Washington in 2009. Considered an up-and-comer at the WR position, the Tennessee Titans were banking on Nate to provide the team with a badly needed playmaking threat in the passing game.
Despite scoring six touchdowns, inconsistency was often the name of Nate Washington's game in 2009. Mired by untimely drops (cough, cough, the second Colts' game), Nate's ability to serve as a formidable weapon in the Titans' aerial attack was often hindered by his inability to simply hold onto the football.
Entering his second season as a Titan, what does 2010 have in store for Nate Washington?
After dazzling many with his athletic prowess during last year's OTAs, the bar was raised in terms of our expectations regarding rookie TE Jared Cook in 2009.
Unfortunately, Cook failed to make much of an impact due to a combination of rookie growing pains and a lingering ankle injury.
Though it's only his second season, the natives are beginning to get a bit restless as inevitable visions of the Ben Troupe experiment cross our minds: It's time for Cook to make the Tennessee Titans look wise for trading a future-second round pick for the opportunity to attain his services.
Last week, Paul Kuharsky asked over at ESPN AFC South Blog which the best Oilers/Titans team was, listing among his possibilities the 1960 and '61 AFL champions, the 1979 team that lost close to the Steelers in the AFC Championship game, the 1999 Super Bowl team, and the 2000 team whose playoff loss caused me to kick apart a cardboard box. (Yes, it was empty, and I was going to throw it away. Yes, it felt good, dangit.)
I'd started some mucking around in this direction, poking around with different ways to evaluate the "best" team in franchise history. I tend to value regular season success more than postseason success, and particularly regular season dominance, as you'll see. I also didn't take into account in my analysis league-wide honors for players on that team, like Pro Bowls and All-Pro and Hall of Fame members. I especially don't particularly like relying on Pro Bowls, which tend to be the same players over and over mixed in with a smattering of guys who have good conventional stats. This tends to focus too much attention on particular big names (let's be honest, Bruce Matthews didn't really deserve to make it to the Pro Bowl every year he did), and also overrates stars-and-scrubs systems. In the analysis, I refer to teams' DVOA, the base statistic we use at Football Outsiders (available 1993-present), and also Pythagorean wins (PythWins), which tells you many games a team "should" win based on their points scored and points allowed.
So, what's my take on the best teams in franchise history?
A wise man once uttered the famous phrase, "First impressions are lasting."
So far, Ryan Mouton's plight as a Tennessee Titan more than validates the aforementioned age-old axiom.
From Titans' fans being upset due to him being chosen in the third round over local favorite D.J. Moore, to his untimely case of fumble-itis as a returner in the "forgettable" debacle in the Meadowlands against the Jets, Mouton's had his share of struggles entering his second year in Nashville.
With this weekend's news that fellow 2009 CB draftee Jason McCourty is running with the first team in OTAs due to his strong offseason, the pressure is certainly on Mouton to step up his game.