2019 NFL Season Preview- Tennessee Titans
For the third straight season, the Titans finished with a 9-7 record, but missed the playoffs for the second time in that span.
Quarterback Marcus Mariota suffered nerve damage in his throwing arm in the season opener and was sidelined three different times because of the injury. An independent doctor warned Mariota if he took the wrong kind of hit, he could risk permanent nerve damage. Blaine Gabbert was okay at times but threw a costly interception in the season finale which ultimately cost Tennessee a playoff spot. For some reason, the team had running back Dion Lewis as the primary back over Derrick Henry at the start of the season. Henry carried the offense during the final month of the season and finished with 1,059 rushing yards, including tying an NFL record with a 99-yard touchdown run. Lewis was able to return to his change of pace back role which is what he is really best suited for. David Fluellen was a special teams fixture before his knee injury. Tight end Delanie Walker broke his fibula in the season opener and was lost for the year. Jonnu Smith got better the more he played but then got injured himself. Luke Stocker was mainly used as a blocker but did have some key catches. Wide receiver Corey Davis should some promise in his sophomore season but he has to be more consistent to justify him being the fifth overall pick in the draft. Taywan Taylor had some nice plays as the speedy receiver, but was inconsistent overall. Tajae Sharpe's production declined in the second half of the season thanks to an ankle injury. The offensive line was erratic for much of the year, but four their rhythm late. Right tackle Jack Conklin never got back on track coming off a knee injury, then reinjured it late in the season. Right guard Josh Kline struggled after signing his extension while left guard Quinton Spain and center Ben Jones had up and down seasons.
Nose tackle Austin Johnson and defensive end Daquan Jones weren't as productive as they were in 2017. Outside linebackers Brian Orakpo and Derrick Morgan combined for just two sacks and both retired after the season. Wesley Woodyard remained a steady force inside with 113 tackles and 4.5 sacks while Jayon Brown finished with six sacks and a pick six. Cornerback Logan Ryan was very consistent while Adoreé Jackson was also solid. Malcolm Butler regained composure in the final half of the season after a rough start. Safety Kevin Byard continued to play at a high level but Kenny Vaccaro missed the final three games with a knee injury.
Kicker Ryan Succop was mostly solid despite a late season slump. Long snapper Beau Brinkley does solid work. Darius Jennings averaged nearly 32 yards per return on kick offs but Adoreé Jackson often fair catches returnable balls on punt returns.
The team had three Pro Bowlers in left tackle Taylor Lewan, defensive tackle Jurrell Casey, and punter Brett Kern. Lewan was the highest paid tackle in football last season and made his third straight Pro Bowl. Casey had another outstanding season before a knee injury sidelined him in the season finale but still led the team with seven sacks. Kern had another outstanding season after averaging 47 yards per punt.
The team's gamble to trade up paid off for the most part. Inside linebacker Rashaan Evans started the season off slow with a hamstring injury but was playing like a first round pick by seasons end. Outside linebacker Harold Landry finished with 4.5 sacks as a reserve but needs to develop a counter move. Safety Dane Cruikshank had some injury issues but made an impact as a special teams gunner. Quarterback Luke Falk was cut in training camp due to a lack of arm strength.
Opponent Passing YPG
Opponent Rushing YPG
After another 9-7 season, head coach Mike Vrabel has to maintain some form of consistency if the Titans ever expect to be anything more than a wildcard team.
After offensive coordinator Matt LeFleur left to become the head coach of the Green Bay Packers, Vrabel promoted tight ends coach Arthur Smith to the role of offensive coordinator.
Notable Additions- QB Ryan Tannehill, WR Adam Humphries, G Rodger Saffold, C Hroniss Grasu, LB Riley Bullough, LB Cameron Wake,
Notable Departures- QB Blaine Gabbert, QB Austin Davis, G Josh Kline, G Quinton Spain, NT Bennie Logan, LB Will Compton, LB Derrick Morgan, LB Brian Orakpo, S Kendrick Lewis
Titans 2018 Highlights
2019 NFL Draft
Holding the 19th overall pick in the draft, the Titans need to bolster their roster if they ever want to make a deep playoff runs. They need to add depth at wide receiver, guard, and outside linebacker.
The team always seems to be in need of a playmaker on the outside. Corey Davis could be that guy, but he has to show he can show up week in and week out.
Both guards struggled with consistency for much of the season. Adding a stable body on the inside would help out a lot.
Brian Orakpo and Derrick Morgan both retired after the season. Harold Landry is the future both needs to develop pass rush moves and free agency signing Cameron Wake is 37.
When it came time to pick, Tennessee selected Mississippi State defensive tackle Jeffrey Simmons with the 19th overall pick. Simmons has the strength and explosiveness to dominate on the inside, but comes with some character red flags as well as he tore his ACL in preparation for the NFL Draft.
Other Notable Draft Picks:
AJ Brown, WR, Ole Miss- Top receiver after the catch, more quick than fast
Nate Davis, G, Charlotte- Sound technique, short height and arms
Amani Hooker, S, Iowa- Athletic build, borderline reckless
D'Andre Walker, OLB, Georgia- Looks and plays bigger than he is, lacks awareness
David Long Jr, LB, West Virginia- Top blitzing middle linebacker, built more like a safety
Jeffrey Simmons Highlights
What To Expect
Looking at this Titans team, they are pretty much in the same position they were last year.
The main concern is still the health of Marcus Mariota. He is capable of being a star dual threat quarterback when healthy, but with the nerve damage in his throwing arm and his fifth offensive coordinator in as many years, its unknown if he can ever be that guy again even with a solid surrounding cast. If he does go down, Ryan Tannehill is more than capable of being a competent field manager. It will be interesting to see what the offense looks like with Derrick Henry as the feature back for the full season. The passing game needs a valuable target like Delanie Walker even though he will be 35 when the season starts. Corey Davis has all the physical tools to be the top receiver in the offense while AJ Brown is a solid No. 2 option. A healthy offseason should make Taylor Lewan and Jack Conklin one of the top tackle tandems in the league again, but the interior of the offensive line could look very different. With the additions of Nate Davis, Hroniss Grasu, and Rodger Saffold.
Considering Jurrell Casey and Jeffrey Simmons are still recovering from injuries, there is a likely chance that they won't be ready for the start of the season. That being said, Austin Johnson and DaQuan Jones will need to step up and hopefully return to their 2017 form. Cameron Wake is a short term solution at outside linebacker, but the team likes Harold Landry and hope D'Andre Walker can become a starter down the line. The secondary remained pretty much intact and the addition of Amani Hooker brings another physical force on the backend.
Given the questions at quarterback, its hard to see Tennessee competing with Houston for the AFC South title but thanks to Indianapolis losing Andrew Luck, they have a shot at a wildcard spot.
Best Record They Can Hope For: 10-6