The Tennessee Titans are set up to make the playoffs in 2017.
Following a surprising and impressive 2016 season, Tennessee Titans fans were talking about making the 2017 playoffs as soon as the final game against the Houston Texans ended. Many felt the Titans should’ve won the division, and they’re right, with a brutal loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars the only thing keeping them out of it.
This offseason, the Titans have frequently been the trendy pick within media circles as a “sleeper” or “rising” team for 2017. With the team getting so much national attention, I was beginning to worry that the lofty expectations might have been a bit exaggerated, especially when considering that the team went 3-13 two years ago and 2-4 in the division last year.
But then I started to delve into just what the Titans have done this offseason to continue building a young and talented roster, and I’m beginning to see the light. The Titans went 9-7 last season with borderline NFL players starting games for them. The running game and offensive line, along with a much-improved Marcus Mariota, paved the way to success. But there were absolutely holes to fill, and they have filled them with impact players.
Let’s look at the positions that the Titans have upgraded this offseason. The changes are staggering.
The Titans have gone from old and bad Harry Douglas and inconsistent and frustrating Kendall Wright to Corey Davis and Taywan Taylor. Davis will give the Titans the No. 1 receiver they haven’t had in a long, long time. Taylor’s game is reminiscent of Wright at Baylor, and he should be an immediate and long-term upgrade.
Gone are Jason McCourty, Perrish Cox, and Valentino Blake. In are Logan Ryan and Adoree’ Jackson. While many still don’t think the Titans have done enough in the secondary, adding two new starting cornerbacks and a new starting safety in Johnathan Cyprien is a pretty solid attempt at revamping the unit. Three new starters and the expected development of LeShaun Sims and Kevin Byard should be enough to turn the secondary into an at least league average group.
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Marc Mariani is gone. That’s all you need to know. All jokes aside, the Titans needed to add explosive returners to the fold, and they’ve done that and more. Eric Weems wasn’t an exciting signing, but it showed the Titans wanted to change things in the return game. Then they drafted Jackson, who was arguably the best returner in college football last season. Speedy seventh round running back Khalfani Muhammad has a chance to stick on the team as a kick returner. This much I know: there will be more big plays on kick and punt returns.
Last year’s nickel linebacker, Sean Spence, bolted for the Indianapolis Colts. The Titans didn’t address the position in free agency, though it was speculated that Cyprien would get some time there during the season. While that may still be true, the Titans drafted an impressive cover linebacker in Jayon Brown, who figures to make an impact on defense from day one.
Early in the free agency period, the Titans made an emphasis of signing core special teams players. They acquired Weems, Daren Bates, and Brynden Trawick. Bates and Trawick were notable special teams dynamos for the Oakland Raiders, while Weems has made a career from performing well on the unit. Brown will also contribute in this aspect.
When outlining the Titans’ offseason additions, it’s clear that the Titans have improved wholly as a team. Considering they went 9-7 with the roster they had last year, the hype going into 2017 is starting materialize. The season can’t get here soon enough.