Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Titans' 10-0 Start is One for the Ages

Regardless of what happens when Brett Farve’s Jets visit Nashville on Sunday, the Titans 10-0 start to the 2008 NFL season has been a masterpiece. Albeit an incomplete one.

Nevertheless, this Jeff Fisher engineered Titans team deserves credit for what it has already accomplished as its undefeated start may be the most impressive feat a football team in the state of Tennessee has ever pulled off.

I know what you’re thinking, and yes, 1998 National Championship included.

Impressive may be a controversial word in this context, especially if you let yourself get caught up in the glamour and pageantry of National Championships, but if you’re interested in degree of difficulty and historical rarity then the 2008 Titans already have the 1998 Volunteers beat.

There are no University of Houston Cougars or UAB Blazers on the Titans' schedule this year as there were on the Vols' schedule in 1998. For that matter there are no Kentucky Wildcats or Vanderbilt Commodores on the Titans' schedule either.

In other words, with a schedule that threatens a loss every single Sunday the small-market Tennessee Titans have won and won and won.

Since 1970, only 10 NFL teams have won the first ten games of the season. That’s roughly one 10-0 start every four years. And in a league that prides itself on parity that far exceeds other professional sports due to a tight salary cap, the Titans win streak is probably more impressive now than it would have been in 1970.

Last year’s juggernaut New England Patriots were the first 10-0 NFL team of the millennium. Now the Titans are the second.

In college football, the number of undefeated National Champions since 1970 is much, much higher. The exact number is hard to pin down because undefeated teams have “shared” National Championships on several occasions, but it's somewhere in the 25-30 range. And that doesn't include undefeated teams that didn't claim National Championships.

This isn’t to take anything away from the Vols 1998 National Championship team, because it’s a rough comparison between college and pro football anyway. Rather it’s an effort to draw a parallel between what’s looking more and more like the state’s two best football teamsever, the 1998 Vols and 2008 Titans.

Unsuspecting quarterback. Great running backs. Stingy defense. Star talent, with a team first mentality. The ’08 Titans and the ’98 Vols have more in common than you’d think. You could even argue that great coaching is a similarity between the two teams, or at least that two great coaches finally had teams that perfectly complimented their coaching style.

In fact, the Titans could learn an important lesson from the '98 Vols. Stick to what you do best, do it one game at a time and let the rest take care of itself. The blueprint for success was laid on a collegiate level ten years ago in this state by Phil Fulmer and his Tennessee Vols. Running hard and playing tough defense, the Tennessee Titans have done a heck of a job replicating that blueprint in the NFL this season.

If the Titans play like they are capable of playing on Sunday against the Jets they will be just the 7th team in NFL history to start the season 11-0. Then history would really be calling if the Titans travel to Detroit to take on the lowly Lions with the opportunity to move to 12-0. Only four NFL teams have started 12-0 since 1970.

The scary thing is that if the Titans get to that point only the Browns and Texans will stand between them and 14-0.

I’m just saying.

No comments: