Tennessee hit troubling times
Each NFL season throws up surprises. You only have to look at the starts made by the Denver Broncos and Cincinnati Bengals this year to realise that is the case.
But the most shocking start of this 2009 campaign has to be the five consecutive losses compiled by the Tennessee Titans.
This is a club that opened the 2008 season with 10 straight wins and one that should have gone at least to the AFC Championship Game last term. They are normally well-coached, disciplined and tough to beat.
That could not be further from the truth this season. Coach Jeff Fisher's men have been plagued by some poor personnel decisions, suspect coaching and a lack of production on the field.
And there are signs that things could get worse. The Titans are a team that got very bad, very quickly. And they are not about to reverse that trend.
The demise began in the off-season when man-mountain defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth - the best in the NFL at his position - was allowed to leave town in order to become a Washington Redskin. Haynesworth made everyone around him better. He routinely tied up two and sometimes three blockers at the line of scrimmage, meaning the ends either side of him could take an easier route to the quarterback.
With Haynesworth gone, we are also discovering that star defensive backs such as Cortland Finnegan, Michael Griffin, Chris Hope and Nick Harper can be made to look distinctly average when opposing quarterbacks have time to pass.
Titans fans have been left exasperated by their team's performances
On Sunday night, the Titans were shredded to pieces by Peyton Manning during a 31-9 victory for the Indianapolis Colts. There's no shame in that - most teams around the league have been burned by Manning at some point during his illustrious career.
Tennessee also lost defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz in the off-season as he left to become head coach of the Detroit Lions. His replacement, former NFL safety Chuck Cecil, has hardly covered himself in glory and needs to find a way to be more creative and aggressive on defence.
If you're unable to generate a pass rush in normal circumstances, you have to find creative ways to pressure opposing quarterbacks, yet Cecil seems reluctant to pile more stress on a struggling secondary by bringing more defenders on the blitz.
The offence is also in dire form at the moment. Quarterback Kerry Collins is not the solid game manager he was in 2008 and he is turning the ball over far too frequently. The Titans also seem to be passing much more than normal, even though they have Chris Johnson and a slimmed-down (thanks to cutting out tequila) Lendale White in the backfield.
That doesn't make sense to me and Fisher - in his 16th season at the Titans and the longest-tenured current coach with the single team - has to take some of the heat for that approach.
It might be time for Vince Young - expected to be the future of the team when he was drafted in 2006 - to recapture his job as starting quarterback. He had some positive moments as a rookie and then regressed both physically and emotionally, giving his own fans the finger in 2008 after getting booed.
But the Titans may not have an alternative. Collins is struggling badly and Young is due a massive contract payment - around £10 million - in 2010 due to the way his deal was structured.
They need to find out if Young is worth that kind of investment because if he cannot cut it either, they need to send him packing. With this season all but lost, now is the time to insert Young back into the game and see what he can do in live action.
I am disappointed in the Titans but I still feel Fisher should be kept on as head coach. If Tennessee makes a knee-jerk reaction and axes him, they will be cutting loose one of the best in the business and the man who is more than capable of leading the much-needed revival.