It was pretty clear that the lack of a running game in 2014 was a huge contributor to the Tennessee Titans 2-14 season. The commitment to run the ball starts with the coaching staff and falls on the shoulders of the entire offensive side of the football team. The O-Line, tight ends and down-field blocking by wide receivers. We can look at the anemic numbers put up by the running backs last year, but everyone on the offense needs to won those numbers and vow to make them better in 2015.
Titans Working to Run Better with Mariota, Other Draft Picks – Teresa M. Walker AP via Titans Online
Of the many items on Tennessee’s needs improvement list, nothing may be higher offensively than running the ball better.
It’s a topic coach Ken Whisenhunt has repeatedly mentioned this offseason, a not so subtle message for an offense that can stand to improve across the board.
The Titans certainly have done what they could to address the running game by drafting a new fullback, running back, with plans to turn the offense over to mobile quarterback Marcus Mariota. They also have running back Bishop Sankey, a second-round pick a year ago, around all offseason too.
Amid a 2-14 season, a lot of Tennessee Titans weren’t used in the ways we may have expected.
Running back Dexter McCluster was supposed to be a bit of a Swiss Army knife, catching a lot of passes out of the backfield and adding a different dynamic.
But he had limited chances, finishing the season with 40 carries for 131 yards (a 3.3-yard average) and 26 catches for 197 yards (a 7.6-yard average). He scored just one TD.
When he looks back at last season and the Titans’ inability to produce a decent running game, Lewan doesn’t mince words. He doesn’t blame the offensive scheme or the plays that were called. He doesn’t blame the running backs. He doesn’t blame the revolving door at quarterback.
Instead, he looks in the mirror and suggests that other offensive lineman do the same. And that includes returning players as well as those who have departed, including the retired Michael Roos.
"“The fact that we had a poor run game last year isn’t on the running backs. It’s not on the quarterbacks,” Lewan said. “It’s 100 percent on the offensive line – from me to Roos to everybody that was on the offensive line last year.“It’s our fault. And it’s our job to do a lot better this year.”"
The running back position is as important as any for the Tennessee Titans to address if they are to improve on last year’s season-long travesty. In reviewing the teams that made the playoffs and won a playoff game in 2014, the running back position and the ability to run the football was a prominent factor.
In fact, I anticipate the role of the running back to continue to grow as the golden age of quarterbacks looks to be closing. Evidence of this is already being seen in the recent 2015 draft.
Two running backs were selected in the first round in this year’s draft, whereas in the 2014 draft the Titans selected the first running back in Bishop Sankey in the second round. The NFL is trending towards a refocus on the run game.
RB Bishop Sankey. I’m not saying he’s ready for a breakout year after an underwhelming rookie season. But I have been impressed with his work in non-contact drills. When you consider he was absent last offseason because of school commitments, this has to be viewed as a positive.