A look into the mythos of 2019’s success. Will it fuel or curse the Tennessee Titans momentum?
The Tennessee Titans entered last season with some raised expectations. For the previous three seasons, the team posted 9-7 records with one playoff appearance. It’s a team game but let’s face it, the quarterback usually faces the criticism.
Marcus Mariota was canned six games into 2019, and the signal caller’s days with Tennessee were effectively over. It’s wasn’t only Mariota’s fault the Titans struggled in the first half of the season. Yes, Mariota never turned into that elite player, and that was the breaking point within the franchise. New quarterback Ryan Tannehill’s insertion into the starting lineup helped compliment a powerful running game that didn’t show up till the second half of the season. Derrick Henry had a late-season surge just like he did in 2018, and Mariota couldn’t carry the offense by himself. Also, I don’t remember Marcus playing in the secondary.
The Titans would catch fire with Tannehill and gain their fourth straight 9-7 record. Thus they would become only the fourth 9-7 team to reach the conference title game. Of course, they fell to the eventual champions in the Kansas City Chiefs.
The big question is can Tennessee repeat or was this all a fluke?
Tennessee became stagnant, and in the 16-0 loss in week six to Denver, the Tannehill era began.
Offensive coordinator Arthur Smith did an excellent job playing to the strengths of Ryan Tannehill and running back Derrick Henry.
Tannehill was super aggressive and ended up being one of the most efficient quarterbacks in the NFL.
That aggressiveness was what set the offense apart from the Mariota era. The last seven games of 2019 saw the power running game complemented by the breathtaking passing attack. That led to a high volume rushing team that rushed 49.8% of the time an average 8.8 yards per pass attempt.
The Tennessee Titans have a very favorable schedule in 2020.
at Denver Broncos Broncos Stadium at Mile High, Denver, CO
Jacksonville Jaguars Nissan Stadium, Nashville, TN
at Minnesota Vikings U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, MN
Pittsburgh Steelers Nissan Stadium, Nashville, TN
Buffalo Bills Nissan Stadium, Nashville, TN
Houston Texans Nissan Stadium, Nashville, TN
at Cincinnati Bengals Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, OH
Chicago Bears Nissan Stadium, Nashville, TN
Indianapolis Colts Nissan Stadium, Nashville, TN
at Indianapolis Colts Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, IN
Cleveland Browns Nissan Stadium, Nashville, TN
at Jacksonville Jaguars TIAA Bank Field, Jacksonville, FL
Detroit Lions Nissan Stadium, Nashville, TN
at Green Bay Packers Lambeau Field, Green Bay, WI
at Houston Texans NRG Stadium, Houston, TX
If you ask me, and I know you didn’t, I see a win scale between 9-11. Losses include a season split with Houston and Indy, a tough Baltimore team hell-bent on revenge, Buffalo, and possibly Green Bay.
How To Keep The Momentum
General Manager Jon Robinson is a good drafter, and the problem with Tennessee in past years wasn’t the front office but the coach.
This upcoming season head coach Mike Vrabel will probably be handling the defensive play-calling after the retirement of defensive coordinator Dean Pees. No defensive coordinator was hired, and it looks likely “Vrabes” will take it upon himself to run the defense.
Safety Kenny Vaccaro mentioned in an interview that Vrabel would put the defense,” in a position to play fast and aggressive.“
Tackle Isaiah Wilson was drafted in the first round to replace the departed Jack Conklin. The line held up well (at least in the running game) and will need to do the same for offensive success.
Third-round pick Darrynton Evans was a great pick at running back for Tennessee. A small, speedy back Evans has the potential to become the lightning to Derrick Henry’s thunder. Evans can also save the wear and tear of Henry and even become a game-changer that can tire out a defense.
Things To Be Concerned With
Tennessee Titans kickers last year made 44.4% of their field goals as a team. They need some sort of answer at kicker. Last year they didn’t need to rely on three-pointers as much as other teams, but they can’t go through another inefficient year of kicking.
My last suggestion is Tennessee should add a veteran quarterback to the roster. Mariota is gone to the Raiders, and the Titans acquired late-round Hawaii quarterback Cole McDonald. McDonald still has to pack on some muscle to gain some power on his mid-range arm. While it was smart to draft a project like McDonald, they need some experience in case Tannehill goes down. Killer Cam Newton has already been picked up by the
evil empire Patriots, so Tennessee needs to shop around. Joe Webb, Josh McCown, or even Colin Kaepernick would fit that mold.
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