The casual NFL fan would have been hard pressed to name a single player on the Tennessee Titans’ roster two years ago. Running back Chris Johnson, the team’s only well-known player, was released following the 2013 season.
When you think of the Titans today, recognizable names come to mind, and that’s a good thing for the fans and the franchise.
The NFL quarterback is arguably the most recognizable position in all of sports in this country, and the Titans selected the most recognizable collegiate quarterback in last year’s draft.
Marcus Mariota was college football’s media darling. The Heisman Trophy winning quarterback arrived in Nashville with a sizeable legion of loyal fans in Hawaii (his home state) and Oregon, where he started for the powerhouse Ducks.
Not bad for not playing a single down yet.
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The national media was all over Mariota last season, and his rookie record-setting debut kept the Titans off the back page, even though they had only won two games the prior season.
This offseason, the Titans added two more nationally recognized players in running backs DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry.
Murray, the 2014 NFL Offensive Player of the Year, made his name under the brightest lights imaginable while playing for the Dallas Cowboys. His arrival to Nashville by way of Philadelphia this offseason increased Tennessee’s Q Rating even higher.
Everyone knows who he is.
The same could be said for rookie second round pick Derrick Henry, Tennessee’s second Heisman Trophy winner in as many years (an NFL record, by the way).
Like Murray, Henry also made his name under the brightest lights imaginable while playing for legendary head coach Nick Saban at Alabama. The bruising back led the Crimson Tide to a National Championship in January.
Henry’s selection was one of the most talked about in the entire draft, with local and national media pundits weighing in on how the Titans will use their new duo this fall. Much like their curiosity on how Mariota would transition from a spread-option attack to a traditional pro style offense last summer.
Translation…more media attention…more exposure. More exposure…higher Q Rating.
Walker went from sixth round afterthought pick of the San Francisco 49ers to one of the elite tight ends in the league the last two seasons for the Titans.
A 2015 All Pro snub, Walker led all tight ends in receiving yards last season, and has become a household name in fantasy football circles.
Jurrell Casey is the NFL’s best young defensive lineman that the casual fan has rarely…if ever…seen play. The USC product has been dominant in the Titans’ 4-3 and 3-4 scheme, but is only respected and recognized by his peers and coaches around the league…at least for now.
Both will become household names across the board as the Titans gain more national exposure.
While Tennessee’s offseason moves the last two years may not lead to immediate success on the field this season, they have already accomplished one goal….
They are no longer the NFL’s most anonymous team.