Five needs for the Tennessee Titans that General Manager Jon Robinson must address this offseason to improve the team.
The Tennessee Titans exceeded most people’s expectations in 2017. Throughout the year, the Titans would edge out close victories, even when it felt like the team didn’t play to the best of their ability. Nine wins led Tennessee to their first playoff berth since 2008, and a stunning upset in Kansas City gave the Titans their first playoff win since 2003. After a loss to New England in the Divisional Round, it was clear that the Titans still have plenty of work to do before they can truly compete for a championship. These are the positions that need to be addressed for them to get closer to that goal.
It was apparent this year that the Titans’ offensive line had taken a step back from its success in 2016. The running game struggled throughout most of the season. Both of the Titans’ starting guards will be unrestricted free agents this upcoming offseason. Jon Robinson will have to make decisions on their future with the team.
Left guard Quinton Spain is only 26 years old and will most likely receive some interest from other teams in free agency. The Titans may have to let him walk if he demands too much money. Right Guard Josh Kline is currently 28 years old and probably won’t receive as much interest from other teams. I would be fine with bringing him back for the right deal. J-Rob will need to upgrade the guard position through free agency and possibly even the draft if the Titans wish to improve the running game and overall offense.
#4. Defensive Tackle
Depending on the defensive scheme for next season, the defensive tackle position should be one that gets addressed this offseason. Outside of Jurrell Casey, Tennessee lacks a defensive lineman that can cause havoc, get after the quarterback, and stuff the run. It was unfortunate that DE DaQuan Jones was put on Injured Reserve before the season’s end, because he was starting to become a serviceable defensive end for the team. Austin Johnson looked decent in his place, but Titans’ free agent defensive tackle Sylvester Williams underwhelmed.
It was evident in the playoff game against the New England Patriots that the front three couldn’t get any pressure on Tom Brady. In that game, the Titans recorded only 0 sacks, which is an issue for a Titans team that hopes to be a real playoff contender for years to come. Depth and new talent should be added to the group this offseason.
#3. Speed Back
Derrick Henry deserves the right to be the workhorse running back for this football team, but on passing downs, he struggles. He isn’t an RB that will run effective routes and so far, he isn’t a back that has shown he can pass protect. That is fine, as long as he’s backed up by someone who can complement him and serve as a change-of-pace back, similar to how Alvin Kamara impacted the New Orleans Saints and their offense this year.
At the start of the year, the hope was that DeMarco Murray would be that back. However, Murray is approaching 30 years old and seems to be slowing down. His future role on the team is in question. A speed back that can complement Henry would be a huge boost for this offense.
#2. Backup Quarterback
This offseason, the Titans MUST address the backup quarterback position. Matt Cassel and Brandon Weeden can’t be the answers moving forward. Marcus Mariota has shown that he is susceptible to injury and has yet to play a full 16 games in a season. We need a quarterback that shares similar traits with Mariota, so that our offense can still function when Mariota misses time.
#1. Edge Rush/Inside Linebacker
Derrick Morgan and Brian Orakpo are still a suitable pass-rush duo, but they are both in the second halves of their careers. Kevin Dodd has not looked like a player the Titans can build around thus far. At inside linebacker, Avery Williamson will become a free agent and will likely demand a high price. If new coach Mike Vrabel changes the defense to a 4-3, Williamson may not be back in 2018. He is a serviceable linebacker against the run, but he struggles in pass-coverage. Wesley Woodyard had a great year, but he is 31 years old. New talent at the Linebacker position will be necessary for the Titans moving forward.
This offseason will be very important for the future success of the Tennessee Titans. Jon Robinson will need to make tough decisions on player contracts and bring in new talent for this team to take the next step. In J-Rob we trust.