Why the Tennessee Titans are Succeeding

Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill throws a pass during the second half of an NFL football game against the Denver Broncos, Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

Why the Tennessee Titans are Succeeding

The Tennessee Titans are succeeding; surprisingly, they are the Cinderella story of professional sports. They are comparable to a 16 seeded team in the NCAA College Basketball tournament and making it far. The Titans are not supposed to be in this situation. 14 weeks ago, the Titans were sitting with a 2-4 record and on the decline. To say that this team was struggling would be an extreme understatement. The season for the Titans was nearly over just as it started. However, they are no one victory away from reaching the Super Bowl and cap one of the most unprecedented runs in NFL history. Why the Tennessee Titans are succeeding goes in-depth as to how they turned their season around.

The Ryan Tannehill Switch

Through six weeks, Marcus Mariota was failing to lead his team. He only had seven touchdown passes. He had three touchdowns against Cleveland, three touchdowns against Atlanta, and one score against Indianapolis. However, he also went three games without throwing a single touchdown pass. He was unable to lead his team, so head coach Mike Vrabel decided to play backup Ryan Tannehill for the remainder of the season. 

This change paid off big for the Titans. Tannehill won seven of the Titan’s last ten games and willed them to the playoffs. In ten games, Tannehill had 22 touchdown passes and only four interceptions. This was very uncharacteristic for Ryan Tannehill. Tannehill had a 49-49 record for his career to go along with 145 touchdowns and 81 interceptions. The former Dolphins quarterback is playing out of his mind this season in a Tennessee system that seems to fit his playstyle perfectly. Also, Vrabel has the utmost confidence that Tannehill can lead them to the Super Bowl.

However, in the playoffs, Tennessee’s offense looks a little bit different. Tannehill averaged 27 passing attempts in his ten starts in the regular season. However, in the postseason, he is only averaging 14 and a half passing attempts per game. Ryan also averaged nearly 260 passing yards per game in his ten starts. However, in the playoffs, he is averaging only 80 passing yards per game. The one thing that has not seemed to change is Tannehill’s ability to throw touchdowns. Tannehill has three touchdown passes in two games in the playoffs. A steller stat considering his pass attempts dropped off by nearly 14 and his passing yards by 180.

Derrick Henry

Why the Tennessee Titans are Succeeding
Titans Derrick Henry tricked the Ravens with this incredible jump pass. Photo: Todd Olszewski/Getty Images.

Derrick Henry has been the workhorse for the Titans all season and earned the honor as the leagues leading rusher. Most analysts and fans expected Henry actually to fall off some this year. Instead, Henry did the opposite and seemed more dominant than at any point in his career. He averaged 96 yards and 19 carries per game during the regular season but has kicked it into overdrive in the playoffs.

A couple of factors has led to Henry’s incredible offseason so far. One factor is that Vrabel has decided to adopt a ground and pound method for the playoffs. Vrabel realizes that his team may not have the most talent of those teams left in the playoffs. However, he does know that he has one of the league’s best backs and defense to get stops. Henry is now the focal point of the Titans quarterback, contrary to the quarterback.

Henry is averaging 32 rushes per game, which is up by 12 since the regular season. However, the most significant change is what Henry is doing with his touches. He is averaging nearly 189 yards rushing per game in the playoffs. These are video game numbers. He is responsible for 69 percent of all of the Titans yardage in the playoffs. However, the Titans will need Henry to sustain this to win their next matchup against the explosive Kansas City Chiefs.

Titans Defense

Why the Tennessee Titans are Succeeding
Lamar Jackson was stripped of the ball on this play, resulting in one of his three turnovers Saturday.Julio Cortez/Associated Press

The Titans have had one of the stingiest defenses all season. They rank 12th in points against, allowing 20.7 points/game. The ground and pound tactic has worked all season for Vrabel, and he will need it to continue in the AFC Championship game against the Chiefs

They already took down the defending Super Bowl champions in the Patriots. They beat the Patriots 20-13 and denied New England the chance to return to the Super Bowl and potentially ended a dynasty. 

Then the Titans quickly handled the electric Baltimore Ravens beating them 28-12. They were able to force this year’s likely MVP in Lamar Jackson to commit three turnovers slowing the best offense in the NFL. The Titans will need to continue this sort of play if they want to have a chance at taking down the Chiefs in the AFC Championship game Sunday.

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