Tressa Furry previews the Titans’ upcoming season as they look to carry momentum into 2020/2021 and shares the best bets to look out for.
The momentum the Tennessee Titans are going to carry with from last year’s postseason into the 2020 season is huge. I certainly didn’t expect the Titans to almost make it to the Super Bowl last year, and you can’t tell me you did either.
Who knew that Ryan Tannehill would become a decent quarterback? Well, the two secrets of the Titans success in 2019 were RB Derrick Henry and HC Mike Vrabel. As in, Vrabel created a style of football that allowed Henry to annihilate defenses like a bull in a china shop.
Are the Titans just a flash in the pan in the AFC? Absolutely not. Let’s break down the roster of the 2020 Tennessee Titans.
The Tannehill-Henry connection was magical to watch in 2019. However, Tannehill came in to replace the struggling Marcus Mariota, who started the season 2-4 for the Titans. Mariota is like Vince Young, also a former Titan: amazing in college, disappointing in the NFL. Now that Mariota is going to play backup for the Las Vegas Raiders, it’s all in on Tannehill.
Unfortunately, Tannehill has a reputation for being an incredibly inconsistent quarterback, especially for the Miami Dolphins. There’s reasonable doubt that he can maintain his 2019 performance, nay, improve upon it. If he stays healthy, he has an offense that’s perfectly curated for his abilities and I expect the same kind of production from Tannehill.
This is also known as the Derrick Henry section. We all know how vital he is to the Titans. He LITERALLY carried the team and ran them into the AFC Championship game. The Titans has franchise tagged him, and he’s expected to have another monster season (possibly an MVP contending season). How you capitalize on 303 carries, 1,540 rushing yards, 16 rushing TD’s and 102.7 rushing yards per game is beyond me.
The Titans offense relies heavily on play-action scrimmages, and defenses will pick up on this notion. Unless Henry gets bigger and stronger, and according to Twitter, his workout regimen should scare plenty of defenses. It’s all a matter of whether he stays healthy or not, given his history with hamstring injuries.
The Rest of the Offense
The Titans lost RT Jack Concklin to free agency as he went to Cleveland. However, they’ve replaced him with Isaiah Wilson out of Georgia, who the Titans see promise in him. Their wide receiver core in AJ Brown, Corey Davis, and Adam Humphries will help add depth in the Titans offense, if they stay healthy.
The release of TE Delanie Walker, a longtime threat for the Titans, allows TE Jonnu Smith to grow. The way Vrabel constructs his offense, there won’t be much need for more than a good TE.
CB Logan Ryan was the biggest loss the Titans faced this offseason, as the team chose not to re-sign him. Because of this decision, the Titans have less versatility in their secondary. Another setback for the defense is trading DB Jurrell Casey to the Broncos to dump salary. Losing two veterans and leaders of the team is never easy on any franchise.
However, the Titans drafted CB from LSU, Kristian Fulton, in the 2nd round this year, impressed by his natural athleticism. They also have veteran CB and Super-Bowl master interception king of New England, Malcolm Butler. With more responsibility for him, I could see him returning to form this season for the Titans.
Former Falcons OLB Vic Beasley Jr. signed with the Titans this offseason, and reportedly showed up to training camp late and failed his physical. Great start! If he is top-form Vic Beasley, he’ll make a great impact on the defense. It’s also reported that the Titans are heavy hitters for free-agent Jadaveon Clowney as of the day this article is written. Tennessee, jump on that.
The Titans signed Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski, who suffered a hip injury last season and got the boot out of New England in March. This signing not only improves the special teams in Tennessee, but establishes the factory of former Patriots playing for the Titans as “The New England of the AFC South.” I’ll work on a clever nickname later.
COVID-19 Opt Outs
OL Anthony McKinney is the only Titans player to opt out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19. 1st round draft pick Isaiah Wilson found himself on the COVID-19 reserve list earlier in the year, but was still able to sign with the team.
Bets To Look Out For
FanDuel have the Titans at +3000 to win the Super Bowl, and +165 odds to win the AFC South. While the odds have the Indianapolis Colts favored to win the division, I have the Titans taking it this season. Their schedule is 20th toughest in the league, so facing opponents like the Broncos in Week 1 and the Jaguars in Week 2 will get the Titans off to a great start.
This all is determinant on the health of the entire team, but the Titans have a chance to go 11-5 this season and win the AFC South. They’ll perform well in their division, winning both games against Houston and Jacksonville, and taking one from Indianapolis at home. Victories against Denver, Cincinnati, Chicago, Cleveland, Baltimore (another upset!), and Detroit should be feasible for Tennessee.