The 2017 Tennessee Titans offense will look different than 2016.
The Tennessee Titans clearly prioritized getting Marcus Mariota some offensive weapons this offseason, particularly in the draft. New faces were going to be apparent on offense in 2017, but the whole scheme could be about to change.
Bleacher Report columnist Marcus Mosher brought up an interesting point today on Twitter, talking about how teams should find ways to get opposing defenses to put just six defenders in the box.
His points reaffirmed my suspicion that the Titans are beginning to lean away from the two-tight end system that the offense was based on last year. Drafting Corey Davis and Taywan Taylor was a signal, but Anthony Fasano might have been the initial nail in the coffin in terms of replicating last year’s offense.
Fasano was the key to the Titans’ well-oiled machine last year. He was an all-important player due to his great blocking ability, which sprung DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry all throughout the year. He was also 100% effective in tight end throwback plays. His departure in free agency could have changed the Titans’ thought process of how the offense would look in 2017.
Two tight ends, or even three, on the field at the same time will still happen relatively often. The Titans aren’t going to fully shy away from what worked for most of last year, but the NFL game is constantly in transition. Teams are spreading defenses out, creating mismatches at every level and making them pay.
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The Titans will now be able to do just that. Three-wide receiver sets will become more frequent, and might even turn into the base offense before we know it. The team didn’t draft two receivers with their first three picks for them to not play early and often. With Rishard Matthews proving to be an above-average talent at the position, the team can now widen the field immensely.
A formation with Matthews-Davis-Taylor on the field at the same time would space defenders out and create matchup problems. Add in Delanie Walker, who can be moved around the whole line of scrimmage, and defenses will have to account for four receiving threats on one play. All of that would give Murray and Henry a bevy of room to operate. With one of the best offensive lines in football in front of them, the duo would gash light boxes.
I could very well be wrong. The Titans might see Taylor as a Kendall Wright type of player and use him sparingly. Jonnu Smith could be seen as mainly an inline blocker (and not Walker’s future heir) and Phillip Supernaw as Fasano’s direct replacement.
That said, I’d put my chips on the Titans offense looking much different in 2017, with plenty of three-wide receiver sets. Mariota will be able to pick apart defenses with four dangerous playmakers together on the field at his disposal, and two great running backs slashing through seven- and six-man boxes when he feels like taking a play or two off. I believe in you, Terry Robiskie (not yet, I don’t).