2016 NFL Season Preview- Tennessee Titans
2015 was better than 2014 for Tennessee, but it was still a disaster.
Head coach Ken Whisenhunt was fired after a 1-6 start and general manager Ruston Webster was fired at the end of the season.
Offensively, the team lacks consistent playmakers and a quality offensive line. The Titans didn't have a starting caliber running back on the roster as no back made much of an impact. The wide receivers were an enigma for much of the season. Kendall Wright dealt with injuries all year, Harry Douglas was not an upgrade over Nate Washington, and Justin Hunter is running out of opportunities in Tennessee. The offensive line was a mess as former first round picks Taylor Lewan and Chance Warmack were inconsistent all year.
On Defense is were the Titans shined. The defensive line was the strength of their team as DaQuan Jones came into his own in his second year while Al Woods and Sammie Hill formed a nice nose tackle tandem. The linebackers played well before Derrick Morgan went down with a shoulder injury. This caused Brian Orakpo's sack numbers to drop off. After Jason McCourty's season ending groin injury, the secondary completely fell apart.
The team had only two pro bowlers in tight end Delanie Walker and defensive end Jurrell Casey. Walker had 94 catches for over 1,000 yards and Casey has become one of the best 3-4 defensive linemen in the league.
The rookie class shows a lot of promise for the future. Quarterback Marcus Mariota was a home run hit as he proved he had the qualities to be the leader of a franchise. Wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham has to refine his concentration and route running, but he has all the physical tools to be a dominant playmaker.
Titans 2015 Rankings
Opponent Passing Yards
Opponent Rushing Yards
NFL Rank- 25th
NFL Rank- 25th
NFL Rank- 7th
NFL Rank- 18th
NFL Rank- 30th
NFL Rank- 18th
After the 3-13 season, the Titans decided to remove the intern tag from Mike Mularkey and make him the team's new head coach. The team also hired Tampa Bay Director of player personnel Jon Robinson to be the team's new general manager.
The team demoted offensive coordinator Jason Michael to quarterbacks coach and was replaced by Atlanta Falcons wide receivers coach Terry Robiskie. After defensive coordinator Ray Horton left for Cleveland, he was replaced by longtime Pittsburgh Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau. The Titans also hired Hall of Fame offensive lineman Russ Grimm to be the offensive line coach.
Notable Additions- QB Matt Cassel, RB DeMarco Murray, WR Rishard Matthews, CB Antwon Blake, S Rashad Johnson
Notable Departures- QB Zach Mettenberger, S Michael Griffin,
Marcus Mariota Highlights
2016 NFL Draft
Going into the draft, Tennessee held the first overall pick and had many holes to fill. Primarily at wide receiver, offensive line, and cornerback.
Even with Michael Griffin now in Minnesota the Titans need a safety, but Marcus Mariota needs playmakers on the outside to throw to.
Its been addressed with two first round picks and a third round pick, but Tennessee still needs help at center and right tackle if Mariota hopes to stay healthy all year.
When Jason McCourty went down, the secondary's shortcomings were exposed. This position needs multiple players to add depth to a weak group.
Prior to the draft, Tennessee traded the first overall pick, a fourth round pick, and sixth round pick to the Los Angeles Rams in exchange for the 15th pick, two second round picks and a third round pick so that the Rams could draft Cal quarterback Jared Goff. On draft day, the Titans traded up with the Cleveland Browns to the eighth overall pick and draft Michigan State offense tackle Jack Conklin. A former walk on, Conklin was praised for his blue collar mentality that could make him a great offensive linemen but his lack of athleticism may limit him to playing right tackle.
The Titans also drafted a flurry of talents in the second round with Clemson defensive end Kevin Dodd, Penn State defensive tackle Austin Johnson, and Alabama running back Derrick Henry. Dodd looks the part of a dominant edge rusher but only started one season at Clemson. Johnson was viewed as the top tackling defensive tackle in the draft but lacks quickness and technique to be a great pass rusher. Henry is a big, power back who helped Alabama win the National Championship and was named the Heisman trophy winner, but he takes too long to accelerate and Nick Saban era Alabama running backs don't exactly have a great track record in the NFL.
Derrick Henry Highlights
What to Expect
Despite adding a lot of talented players through free agency and the draft, don't expect much from Tennessee.
The fact that they decided to stick with Mike Mularkey as head coach shows that they don't show optimism for 2016. In four years as head coach between Buffalo, Jacksonville, and Tennessee, Mularkey's team's have never finished better than third in the division and has a career winning percentage of 32%. If anything, I wouldn't be surprised if Mularkey gets passed over midseason by Dick LeBeau.
On the offensive side of things, adding Jack Conklin to the offensive line gives Tennessee a hard nosed, lunch pail player who will give it his all to protect Mariota. With the additions of DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry, the Titans now have to big backs who can wear down a defense and take the load off Mariota. There are still questions at wide receiver on whether or not DGB, Kendall Wright, Harry Douglas, and Justin Hunter can be playmakers.
The defensive line added more depth with Austin Johnson, and if Kevin Dodd can make a successful transition to playing outside linebacker, the linebacker corps will be stronger than last year. The main concern is still with the secondary. The addition of Antwon Blake gives the team a suitable complement to Jason McCourty, but the team has no great safeties on the roster now that Michael Griffin was released.
In all, 2016 will be an improvement from last season for Tennessee, but they are still a long way from competing in the AFC South.
Best record they can hope for: 5-11