tennessee titans 2019 season preview
By Anthony Wood
Mike Vrabel was no stranger to a 9-7 record after spending four years under Bill O’Brien in Houston, and if nothing else he showed consistency in his first year as a head coach.
Unsurprisingly, after one year as the head coach Vrabel has decided to focus heavily on defense this offseason. The Titans used all of two picks on the offense this year bringing in wide receiver A.J. Brown to complement Corey Davis and Nate Davis as depth for guard Kevin Pamphile.
Amani Hooker was brought in to replace the disappointing safety Kenny Vaccaro in the long run, D’Andre Walker and David Long both come in as developmental prospects at linebacker, and injured first-rounder Jeffrey Simmons will have to wait to make his highly anticipated impact on the defensive line.
The Titans clearly aren’t sold on Mariota and are preparing to bring in a replacement next year. As he enters a contract year, they brought in former Miami Dolphins starter Ryan Tannehill in free agency. Given the amount they are paying him to be a backup, it seems likely that if Mariota can’t stay healthy and consistent this year, Tannehill will end up the stopgap starter while they groom a rookie next season.
At a glance, their offense has plenty of weapons. Derrick Henry looks to be a three-down back that they can rely on, Corey Davis is starting to come into his own as the large target they envisaged upon drafting him, Brown will be a good second option out wide, and Delanie Walker and Jonnu Smith are a strong tight end duo.
But, and I’m sorry to say this Titans fans, this year has the feel of a transitional year. Mariota is undoubtedly talented, but he’s been mistreated thanks to a plethora of offensive coordinators cycling through year on year of his tenure.
This year will see yet another OC enter the frame, with a now injury-prone quarterback at his disposal. They have improved the offensive line by bringing in Rodger Saffold in free agency, which may well help Mariota, but my expectations remain low.
Their defense should take a step up this year. Bringing in Simmons is as good as a home-run as you’re going to get in the draft. He looks to be a sure thing and will improve this front seven from day one. Cameron Wake comes in to provide some veteran presence and help improve this pass-rushing defense.
Long is an athletic and lanky figure who could be a good rusher. Meanwhile, Walker is similar in his frame and style, but I don’t necessarily see the same athleticism. Both add depth to the front seven, have good upsides and relatively high ceilings.
The Titans are lucky to have one of the best secondaries in the AFC South. Hooker looks to be an upgrade on Vaccaro, who is the one real weak link in this backfield.
I do think Vrabel is taking this team in the right direction, especially the defense. However, I am yet to be fully convinced by this offense, especially as we are yet to find out what this OC has to offer.
I suspect Tannehill will end up as the starter by Week 6, as the coaching staff’s patience will likely be limited given his inconsistency in recent years.
This team really could go either way. My prediction is pessimistic as the offense is a big question mark right now, if they can get going quickly then they could easily win an extra two or three games and challenge for second, but it depends a great deal on how the Jaguars and Texans perform.
RECORD PREDICTION: 6-10
Image Credit: AP Photo/Mark Zaleski (Marcus Mariota)