2018 Tennessee Titans Offseason Positional Needs
You’ll get a mixed bag of responses if you ask a Tennessee Titans fan what they thought of the 2017 season. Some will point to the 35-14 drumming at the hands of the New England Patriots in the playoffs and firing of Mike Mularkey, and call it a disappointment. The team was expected to be competitive with the best in the AFC, and that didn’t ring true. Still, others will say that the Titans didn’t really play all that well and were still able to get into the playoffs, win a road playoff game in Kansas City, and overall, live up to the preseason expectations.
Regardless, there’s definite room for improvement, something that will be required if this team wants to take the next step and contend for an AFC Championship.
Mike Vrabel is the new head coach, and he’s surrounded himself with veteran defensive coordinator Dean Pees and hot shot offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur. Those are respectable coordinator hires, and this regime looks like it can win on paper.
But, this is a critical offseason for general manager Jon Robinson, as he attempts to take the Titans to the next step, and rack up more actual wins instead of paper ones. This team is as deep as it’s been in a long time, but there are still several areas of need as we approach free agency and the draft.
The offensive line, as a whole, took a step back in 2017. In 2016, they were regarded as one of the best in the NFL. Not the case this season. Specifically, the interior offensive line struggled. That should be priority numero uno this offseason, be it via free agency or the draft. You clean up the offensive line play and the entire offense clicks again.
Brian Orakpo, Derrick Morgan, and Erik Walden were great last season, but they aren’t getting any younger. Plus, it looks like the Kevin Dodd experiment is officially approaching “bust” status. The Titans were decent in pressuring quarterbacks this season, but they didn’t have the sack numbers to go with it. This unit needs an elite closer.
Whether or not Derrick Henry is a capable feature back remains to be seen, but I anticipate he’ll get the chance to start with a heavy workload next season. He and DeMarco Murray are basically the same back. They are forces with the ball in their hands. But, if this offense truly wants to be dynamic, they need a shiftier back that can catch passes….even run routes if need be. Khalfani Muhammad was not that back.
Kevin Byard looks poised to become one of if not the elite safety in the NFL. Logan Ryan is a proven guy. Adoreé Jackson looks like a promising corner. Johnathan Cyprien is a sure tackler and run stuffer. If healthy, LeShaun Sims can play. But, there’s something missing from this unit. They need one more playmaker to provide quality depth so production doesn’t dip when one of these guys sits a play out. Think Da’Norris Searcy’s replacement.
No, this isn’t an indictment of Marcus Mariota. The guy’s the franchise. But, Matt Cassel ain’t coming back, and we’ve seen the importance of having a capable backup in the NFL. Especially given Mariota’s injury history, this is a position of importance this offseason.
Stoney Keeley is the Editor in Chief of The SoBros Network. He is a strong supporter of Team GSD and #BeBetter. “Big Natural” covers the Tennessee Titans, Alabama Crimson Tide football, the WWE, and a whole wealth of nonsense. Follow on Twitter @StoneyKeeley