Kenny Britt could provide punch Titans’ offense has been missing
The words must be music to the Tennessee Titans’ ears:
“Today, I felt the most confident I have in this whole year and this whole season to tell you the truth,” wide receiver Kenny Britt said Tuesday, according to The Tennessean‘s Jim Wyatt. “With my eyes, finding the ball when Matt (Hasselbeck) was throwing it, especially coming over the big linemen … so I’m definitely getting back to where I was last year.”
The Titans can only hope that Britt’s assessment is on the mark. When he’s been on the field for them, Britt has knocked on the door of being an elite NFL wide receiver.
The problem, of course, is that Britt has rarely been on the field recently.
Britt missed several games in 2010 with a hamstring injury, blew out his knee in Week 3 last season and has been in and out of the lineup this year with an ankle issue. Without him, despite Kendall Wright’s 27 receptions so far in 2012, the Titans’ offense has struggled to find any explosiveness.
Britt carries a career 16.8 yards-per-catch average — a number brought down by his 9.2 mark this year. For comparison’s sake, 16.8 would put Britt in the top 15 in the NFL this season, ahead of guys like Andre Johnson, Roddy White and Calvin Johnson.
We’re talking about a game-breaking type of player. Britt was en route to a 1,000-plus-yard receiving season in 2010 before getting hurt, and he still finished with 42 catches for 775 yards. Last year, he averaged nearly 100 yards per game in Weeks 1-3. Put him out wide now with Wright settling in and Nate Washington continuing to be a solid option, and the Titans might be in business in the passing game.
A lot of that will rely on the type of play Tennessee can generate on its offensive line and at quarterback — Matt Hasselbeck will start Thursday against Pittsburgh, and he’s clearly at the tail end of his career.
The Titans have seen what Britt can do for their passing game, though, and he’s justified being the No. 30 overall pick during game action. But he’s played just 89 snaps this year (about 28 percent of Tennessee’s total on offense).
It’ll be interesting to see how Pittsburgh defends Britt on Thursday night. If Britt proves that he is at 100 percent, the Steelers will have no choice but to commit top CB Ike Taylor to him. The trickle-down effect for the Titans’ other weapons is obvious — Washington and Wright will then get to work against the likes of Keenan Lewis and Cortez Allen.
Having Britt draw some extra attention also might open some passing lanes up for TE Jared Cook, who already has an edge on Pittsburgh with Troy Polamalu out of action Thursday.
And in an ideal Tennessee world, a more dangerous passing attack would create bigger gaps for Chris Johnson to find, giving Johnson a chance to finally start clicking on the ground.
The Titans will head into Week 6 with the 27th-best points-per-game average in the league (17.6). Getting Britt back into the flow of things won’t solve all of Tennessee’s issues, but he’s shown in the past that he has the ability to come up with big plays repeatedly.
Now, can he stay healthy?