NFL - AFC SOUTH
2021-2022 TEAM LEADERS
Tennessee Titans News and Picks
The Titans’ first pick in the draft was cornerback Caleb Farley. He’s an immense talent that slipped to Tennessee at No. 22 overall. If he remains healthy, he’s a steal that late in the first round. Plus he fills a big need for the team’s defensive backfield. In the second round, Tenneesse took offensive tackle Dillon Radunz from North Dakota State. He’s another need pick for the Titans, but one with big potential upside. He’s athletic and at his best when blocking for the run game, which is a good thing when you’re teammates with Derrick Henry.
It was a bit of a disappointment last season in Tennessee. In 2019 they were in the AFC Championship Game, so expectations for taking that next step were realistic. And Derrick Henry and Ryan Tannehill were just as good in 2020. But instead of going on a postseason run like they had the year before, the Titans were knocked out in the wild card round by the Ravens. By itself, it was a great season. The Titans won 11 games and the AFC South title and had a top-5 offense. But the defense was not good, and ultimately the season ended much earlier than it should have.
The engine that drives this offense is running back Derrick Henry. Right now, he is the best back in football, having just won his second consecutive rushing title and this last one with more than 2,000 yards. Since the Titans gave the quarterback to Ryan Tannehill, they have had an effective passing game and even more effective running game. Henry is the engine of the offense, but Tannehill is at the wheel, expertly guiding this team. Tannehill had a pair of 4,000-plus seasons in Miami, but these last two in Tennessee have been far and away from his most efficient. His yards per attempt, air yards, and QBR are at career highs, while his sacks and turnovers are at career lows. On defense, the Titans have a former First-Team All-Pro at safety in Kevin Byard, as well as a potential star in defensive lineman Jeffrey Simmons.
Most of the offseason talk has been about the new addition at wide receiver. And of course, when you add a future Hall of Famer like Julio Jones to the mix, it is worth talking about. He wasn’t healthy for much of last season, but he’s still a dynamic playmaker who will make plenty of noise on offense for the Titans. The additions that might matter the most, however, have come on defense. Last year the Titans defense ranked 28th, so an overhaul was overdue. Outside linebacker Bud Dupree comes over from Pittsburgh, where he had 19.5 sacks over the last two seasons. He gives Tennessee a much-needed boost in rushing the passer. Defensive lineman Denico Autry should also get after the quarterback and take away some of the double teams of Simmons. Cornerback Janoris Jenkins has 26 career interceptions, 118 passes defended, and instantly upgrades the secondary.
Losing Kenny Vaccaro at safety is the biggest loss on defense. Even on a bad defense, he was a consistent and steadying force. Malcolm Butler is also gone at cornerback, which is why the Janoris Jenkins signing was important, as was the draft pick of Caleb Farley. On offense, the Titans decided that tight end Jonnu Smith was going to make more money in free agency than they wanted to pay. And they were right – he signed for a big raise with the Patriots. They also lost wide receiver Corey Davis to the Jets, and he was a great fit for this offense. The addition of Julio Jones helps cover the Davis loss, and the team is hoping a combination of Geoff Swaim and Anthony Firsker will cover the tight end position.
The AFC South is a two-horse race between the Titans and Colts. Tennessee won the division in 2020, and they are the betting favorite to repeat in 2021. The offense is simply too strong for any of the defenses in the division to handle. Indianapolis feels like they upgraded the quarterback position with Carson Wentz, but an injury in training camp underscores what a risky proposition he is over the course of a 17-game season. The division is the Titans to win.
Tennessee Titans Team Offense
The Titans finished 2020 with the second-most yards in the NFL and the fourth-most points scored. Even predicting less than 2,000 yards for Derrick Henry still has the offense reaching those heights again. Add in Julio Jones, giving Ryan Tannehill the most consistently good target over the last decade, and this is an offense that will be fun to watch.
Tennessee Titans Team Defense
The defense was the opposite of the offense in 2020. They ranked 28th in yards allowed and 24th in points given up, and this unit was the Achilles heel for the team all of last year. The pass rush should be better, and it has to be. Tennessee’s 19 sacks in 2020 ranked 30th in the league. An improved pass rush will also help out a new and unproven secondary that allowed the 29th most passing yards last season
Frequently Asked Questions
It’s worth noting that no one has ever rushed for 2,000 yards in consecutive seasons, but this is also the first-year players will have 17 games to do it.
Ryan Tannehill hasn’t missed a start since taking over the position during the 2019 season. But should he be out, Logan Woodside is the backup.
Mike Vrabel is entering his fourth season as the Titans head coach.
Ultimately Radunz will be a tackle, and probably a right tackle. But he’s seen significant work at guard this preseason and will play a lot of snaps there as well.
As the Titans, no. They have never won a championship. But as the Houston Oilers, they did win a pair of AFL Championships.