Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Tennessee Titans Season Preview

After a 9-7 finish in the 2017 season, the Tennessee Titans fired Mike Mularkey and began down a new road with Mike Vrabel as the new head coach.

Things couldn’t have gotten off to a more auspicious start as the first game of the season against the Dolphins was twice interrupted by a heavy lightning storm, leading to it being the longest game in NFL history. The game saw the Titans season get off with a loss, a gruesome ankle injury to TE Delanie Walker that saw him on IR, and another injury for Marcus Mariota.

The Titans bounced back with Blaine Gabbert at the helm for the next game against division rivals Houston, but Marcus Mariota was required to bail them out against the Jags in week 3. A good overtime win over the Eagles in week 4, saw the Titans reach the heady heights of 3-1 and looking very much like a playoff team after overcoming some adversity.

However, this was to be a false dawn for the Tennessee Titans, as they would lose their next two games ahead of a trip to England to play the Chargers. In a moment that would forever define their season, Vrabel decided to go for 2 late in the fourth quarter, rather than kick an extra-point and play overtime.

Failing on the two-point conversion, and losing the game was a decision that would be picked to bits over the bye week, with Vrable insisting he would do the same again. The team seemed to rally around him, as they had their two most impressive scalps of the season after the bye, beating the Cowboys in Dallas, and the Patriots at home.

Tennessee Titans new QB Ryan Tannehill
Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Painful back to back losses to divisional foes the Colts and Texans followed and highlighted once again the inability of the Tennessee Titans to put together consistent performances when they needed it the most.

With one last chance to reach the playoffs, the Titans put together a four-game winning streak, culminating in a home win against the Redskins that, once again, saw Marcus Mariota leave the field injured. Those wins left Tennessee needing one more win against the Colts, at home, to reach the playoffs.

With Mariota once again on the physio’s table, the Tennessee Titans would fall short and finish the season with a 33-17 defeat to finish at 9-7.

However, there were reasons to be optimistic. Despite missing Delanie Walker for the entire season, and Marcus Mariota missing two full games, the Titans were one game from the playoffs. Derrick Henry showed that he could be an explosive feature back, including an incredible 99-yeard TD run. And the Titans had the fewest 4th quarter touchdowns allowed, the fewest penalties, and registered the most wins in the NFL against playoff-bound teams.

With a little more stability and depth, 2019 could be a much better year for the Tennessee Titans.

Coaching Change

Arthur Smith – Offensive Coordinator

Replacing Matt LaFleur who is becoming the head coach of the Packers, Arthur Smith has been with the Titans since 2011. Working his way up in the organisation from quality control positions to line coach, and then tight-end coach, Smith has seen a varied amount of work. It’s a big step-up, and he has big shoes to fill. But so far Smith seems to be equipping himself well.

Player Additions

The Tennessee Titans were relatively quiet during free agency, but the moves they did make added some much-needed depth to their roster and sets them up for another run at the playoffs.

Ryan Tannehill – QB

Joining in a trade from Miami, Tannehill adds some insurance to the QB position. Marcus Mariota missed two full games last season and was missing for parts of three others, so depth in this area was much needed. Tannehill has had some of his best games against the Titans, and another year removed from his ACL injury, should be back to his more mobile best.

Cameron Wake – DE

Another ex-Dolphin, Cameron Wake is an explosive edge rusher who will likely only play on obvious passing downs. On the downside of his career now, expect Wake to chip in with 8-10 sacks, and add some explosivity to the Titans line.

Rodger Saffold – G

Saffold will bring some much-needed leadership and experience to the Tennessee Titans interior offensive line. He started all 19 games for the Rams last season as they went all the way to the Superbowl, and is a consistent and talented blocker.

Adam Humphries – WR

Used in both the slot and out wide Humphries joins from Tampa Bay where he registered 219 catches for 2,329 yards and 9 touchdowns. Signed by the Buccs as a UDFA, Humphries has proven himself to be a versatile, and hard-working addition to the receiving corps.

Undrafted Free Agents

PlayerPositionCollege
Alex BarnesRBKansas State
Amani BledsoeDEOklahoma
Hamp CheeversCBBoston College
Cody ConwayTSyracuse
Jonathan CrawfordSIndiana
AT HallTStanford
Braxton HoyettDTMississippi St
Isaiah MackDTChattanooga
Anthony Ratliff-WilliamsWRNorth Carolina
Derick RobersonOLBSam Houston St
Taj-Amir TorresCBBoston College
Isaac ZicoWRPurdue
JoJo TilleryWofford

NFL Draft

RoundSelectionPlayerPositionCollege
119Jeffery SimmonsDTMississippi State
251A.J. BrownWROle Miss
382Nate DavisOGCharlotte
4116Amani HookerSIowa
5168D’Andre WalkerOLBGeorgia
6188David Long Jr.ILBWest Virginia

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