Rashad Johnson: Titans' South title not 'far-fetched'


The Tennessee Titans won a combined five games over the past two seasons. The franchise has owned the No. 2 and No. 1 overall picks in the past two drafts, respectively. Nashville natives haven't seen their team win the division since 2008.

With a rising star in Marcus Mariota, a "smashmouth" brand of power football that could take advantage of smaller opposing schemes and an underrated defense, could the Titans finally be on the rise?

New safety Rashad Johnson told NFL Network's Good Morning Football on Thursday that he believes the Titans have a chance for a quick turnaround in a wide open AFC South.

"I mean this is a new team. 2014, 2015, no disrespect to their mindset, but this team has a new mindset, we have some new pieces here, new guys that understand what it takes to win, veterans guys on the team," Johnson said. "We are going to take it a day at a time. We're not going to go out here and promise these people a Super Bowl, but what they're going to get is a team that's going out each and every day, getting better each and every day and has a true opportunity to win this division. It's up for grabs. No true team owns this division. And we believe we're going to be the team at the top when it's all said and done."

It's certainly true that no team has a stranglehold on the AFC South. Each roster is littered with holes.

The Houston Texans, last year's winner, are breaking in a new quarterback, has a disgruntled No. 1 receiver, J.J. Watt -- the team's best player -- remains banged up and the defensive front has serious question marks. The Indianapolis Colts are counting on a bounce-back season from Andrew Luck, but even if the offense returns to form, the defense enters the season with troubling issues, from a lack of playmakers to quality depth. The Jaguars have amassed immense talent, but can those young players form a cohesive winner behind Blake Bortles and a defense lacking cohesive experience?

The Titans own their own problems. Mariota's receiving corps is littered with inconsistent and unproven players. The offensive line must rebound from a porous campaign. Tennessee is counting on a bounce-back season from DeMarco Murray -- who last we saw ran like an upright piano was strapped to his back -- and a power-back rookie in the backfield.

Johnson reiterated that those stumbling blocks aren't enough to relegate Tennessee to rebuilding afterthought.

"The goal is this year," he said when asked when the Titans could realistically challenge for the division title. "I don't think it's far-fetched to say we that can't win this division this year. A lot of people think when you change coaches it takes a couple years. I mean we changed coaches in Arizona and we won 10 games, one game away from being in the playoffs. So, I mean it's not farfetched to get it done in this season."

The main difference in Johnson's comparison between his former Cardinals and current Titans situation is that coach Mike Mularkey is no Bruce Arians. Even before getting a deserved shot as a coach, Arians coordinated some of the best offenses in the NFL in Pittsburgh and Indianapolis. Mularkey has been a part of some of the worst offenses in the NFL as a coordinator and head coach.

With a franchise quarterback like Mariota, a quick turnaround is always possible, but we remain skeptical the rest of the pieces will fall into place for that reversal of fortunes to happen in 2016.