Tennessee Titans: Record year for Kendall Wright?


When the Tennessee Titans selected wide receiver Kendall Wright in the first round of the 2012 draft, then head coach Mike Munchak had him on the fast track to stardom.

After co-leading all rookies in receptions (64) in 2012, Wright came back the next year to post 94 catches for 1,079 yards…leading the team in both categories.  Most impressively, Wright posted those numbers while caching passes from the likes of (a past his prime) Matt Hasselbeck, Jake Locker, and Ryan Fitzpatrick.

So when offensive guru Ken Whisenhunt was brought on board last season, everyone expected those numbers to soar even higher.

But the complete opposite happened.

In fact, Wright endured his worst season as a pro in coach Whiz’s new system last year, hauling in a career low 57 catches. Even more alarming is the fact that he became the forgotten man last year. Wright was targeted a career low 93 times, after having his number called 104 times his rookie season…and 140 times in 2013. Being productive in an offense is like winning the lottery…

You gotta be in it to win it.

So why do all signs point to a record year for Kendall Wright this season? Well…a couple of reasons.

But first, let me explain what I mean by record season. I mean that he’ll surpass his career high totals in receptions (94), yards (1,079), and td’s (6 in 2014). And here’s why.

For starters, all of the returning starters from last year’s offense should be more comfortable in year two of this system. Coach Whiz and Wright both confirmed they weren’t on the same page last season.

Nov 30, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Tennessee Titans receiver Kendall Wright (13) talks with head coach Ken Whisenhunt against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Under the Munchak regime, Wright was able to freelance, to use his natural football instincts to find holes in the defense. Coach Whiz’s system is based on timing and spacing. He wants Kendall to run the rout as constructed in the playbook. He reiterated that publicly prior to mini-camp.

Now we understand how Wright had a record low in targets last season.

Did Wright, and his freelancing style take himself out of plays? Or was coach Whisenhunt sending a message that it’s his way…or the highway? Either way, Wright is on record that he will improve in that area this season. With a better feel for each other this time around, I am sure that they will find a happy medium.

But the biggest reason for optimism is the arrival of Marcus Mariota.

Coach Whisenhunt has already promised to implement offensive elements that Mariota is comfortable with, and that would be the spread option attack. A style of offense that Wright flourished in while at Baylor. Enough so to be a first round talent.

Wright is the perfect target for such plays. Read-option routs…bubble screens…all suited to the freelancing style of play that made him so productive his first two seasons.

Wright also has the benefit of being surrounded by huge colleagues. Dorial Green-Beckham is 6’5. Justin Hunter is 6’4. Harry Douglas and Hakeem Nicks are both over six feet tall as well. They are big targets, and vertical threats.  At 5’10 – 190 pounds, Wright can now move to the slot, where he can rack up the catches.

During camp, Marcus Mariota told reporters that he’s not looking to create a number 1 receiver. He’s just going to get it to the open guy.

But that will change when he starts to get knocked around…and Wright should benefit greatly.

Next: Did B/R pick the right player for the Tennessee Titans offensive MVP

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