The Tennessee Titans enter the season in a strange position. They’ve got some generational talent on both sides of the ball, specifically with Kevin Byard and Derrick Henry. The defense wasn’t great last season, but in the second half of the season it looked like it could be. The offense, on the other hand, felt lost without Derrick Henry. Even when Henry returned in time for the playoffs, the offense struggled to move the ball. So, where do the Titans go from here if they want to take the AFC South again?
What the Offense Needs – Tannehill Edition
Ryan Tannehill came to the Titans in 2019 after spending six years in Miami. In 2019 and 2020, Tannehill looked good. He was hovering around a 70% completion rate and threw 55 touchdowns with only 13 interceptions in those two seasons. 2021, however, saw Tannehill take a big step back. In one season he eclipsed his interception total for the previous two seasons. This has definitely caused some fans to jump aboard the “Tannehill is washed” bandwagon, and the Titans drafted Malik Willis, giving the impression they could fear the same.
Not all is doom and gloom, though. Forgive Titans fans for thinking it is, because in their defense they’ve had a tough time finding a franchise QB and have had their fair share of duds along the way. Tannehill didn’t have much to work with last season, even if paper suggests otherwise. Derrick Henry went down around halfway through the season, and AJ Brown and Julio Jones couldn’t stay healthy. The Titans were essentially down three of their offensive weapons – a tough order for any quarterback.
If the Titans hope to return to the top of the AFC South and make a run as contenders, Tannehill has to play like he did in 2020.
The Rest of the Offense
NFL fans and Titan haters have been prophesizing the downfall of the King for a couple of seasons now. Sure, they could say they were right last year, but Henry’s injury was a freak accident – not a result of his workload. He was on record breaking pace before his injury and looked as good as ever. Maybe he struggled in the postseason, but the man was coming off a big injury and wasn’t expected to be back in time for the season at all. The Titans are also preparing to lighten his workload anyways, and if Henry stays healthy, there shouldn’t be any issues with the ground game.
Treylon Burks and Robert Woods will likely be the top two targets. Woods is coming off an injury the put a stop to his 2021 season but has otherwise been a serviceable receiver throughout his career. He may not light up the stat line every week, but he’s consistent. Treylon Burks had fans worried when rumors were coming out of camp that he was out of shape and wasn’t taking conditioning seriously. Those fears should have mostly subsided, however. Burks did struggle early on in the preseason, though.
Just being able to take the progress — some of the improvements that we saw in practice and carry them over into the game. don’t think that happened enough.
Vrabel following Burks preseason debut
Burks looked solid in his final preseason game, although he only went 3-3 catching with 1 TD on a nice pass from Willis.
Losing Rodger Saffold was a tough pill to swallow, especially when the offensive line struggled in 2021 with pass protection. In fact, the Titans ended the season behind only Miami in pass-blocking efficiency. While the line remained good in run blocking, the new group up front will need to plug the holes in efficiency if the Titans hope to remain atop a slightly more competitive division this year.
By now everyone is approaching the end of the grieving cycle regarding Harold Landry III’s injury. There’s also an article here that breaks down the Titans defense. Last season the Titans’ defense was inconsistent, but there are promising signs that this group can step up. Byard is still Byard and one of, if not the best, safeties in the league. If the cornerbacks can stay healthy, Bud Dupree returns to his 2019 self, and Rashad Weaver steps up, this defense could be one of the best in the loaded AFC.
In The End
The Titans have a tough schedule this season. There is no way around it. Fortunately, the Titans also have a team and coaching staff that loves to overcome adversity. They have the talent. They have the leadership. Now all they need is to stay healthy and they will find themselves atop the division again.