by JOHN GLENNON, The Tennessean
The Titans will open the 2013 season with what appears to be a far more talented roster than last year, thanks to an extremely aggressive approach to free agency and a new crop of draft picks.
But just how realistic is it to expect a 6-10 team - which is what the Titans were last year - to become a playoff squad the following season?
Well, here's what recent history reveals: In the five-year span from 2007 through 2011, a total of 12 teams finished with 6-10 records. Of those 12 teams, four (33 percent) made the playoffs the following year.
It didn't happen at all last year, but did occur three times as recently as two seasons ago, when Houston went from 6-10 in 2010 to 10-6 and the playoffs in 2011; Detroit went from 6-10 in 2010 to 10-6 and the playoffs in 2011; and San Francisco went from 6-10 in 2010 to 13-3 and the playoffs in 2011.
Broadening the search to look at teams that finished 6-10 or worse during that same time frame, the numbers are actually slightly better in regards to the following season: A total of 47 teams finished 6-10 or worse from 2007 through 2011, with 16 of those squads (34 percent) going to the playoffs the next year.
That kind of change took place three times last year, when Indianapolis jumped from 2-14 in 2011 to 11-5 and the playoffs in 2012; Washington jumped from 5-11 in 2011 to 10-6 and the playoffs in 2012; and Minnesota jumped from 3-13 in 2011 to 10-6 and the playoffs in 2012.
There are plenty of candidates to make a total transformation next year, as three teams finished 2012 with 6-10 records (Tennessee, Buffalo and the New York Jets) and seven more teams finished with even worse records.
Will the Titans be one of the teams that goes from the poorhouse to the playoffs? Mike Munchak's job might depend on the answer to that question.
"That's why the NFL is the number one sport," Munchak said at the end of his team's mini-camp last week. "Because if your team makes the right decisions and does the right things, you can turn it around. We feel like we're going to turn it around."