Tennessee Titans WR Corey Davis Will Break Out in 2018
A new offense and a healthy offseason will be the key catalysts for WR Corey Davis’s breakout year in 2018.
When NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell stood at the podium and announced WR Corey Davis as the fifth overall pick to the Tennessee Titans last April, monumental expectations were set. Hampered by injury and plagued by a dated offensive scheme, Davis did not come close to reaching fan expectations during his rookie season. He also didn’t come close to reaching personal expectations.
Davis opened up the year with a bang. His first snag was a phenomenal one. He ran a precise route, adjusted his body and managed to stay in bounds on a spectacular sideline, chain-moving grab. It was a captivating moment that had some Titans fans believing the team had finally landed a true number one wide receiver.
He had one of his best games of the regular season against the Oakland Raiders on opening day, finishing with six receptions for 69 yards. However, Davis’ early return from a hamstring injury limited him against the division rival Jacksonville Jaguars the following week, where he was held to just one catch for four yards.
Davis aggravated his injury and was forced to miss weeks, stalling chemistry and putting a brutal halt to the rapport he was supposed to be building with QB Marcus Mariota.
Return from Injury
The much-anticipated return of Davis took place in Week 8 for the three-game stretch against the AFC North. Davis did well against the AFC North; in three games against Baltimore, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, he finished with 10 catches for 103 yards and nearly earned the first touchdown of his professional career had it not been for a fumbled extension at the goal line against the Bengals.
Davis and the offense as a whole ebbed and flowed. The Titans followed a two-game division win streak by dropping three games against the NFC West–all games the team should’ve won. During that stretch, Davis tallied 148 yards on 12 receptions, averaging over 12 yards per catch. He still could not find the end zone, but was clearly moving towards what could be considered midseason form.
Held without a catch in the season finale against Jacksonville, the Titans found themselves in the postseason despite the three-game skid that nearly derailed their playoff aspirations.
Midseason Form in Postseason
Davis was active against Kansas City in the Wild Card Round and made some crucial catches to help sustain drives. He left Arrowhead with four catches for 35 yards and a playoff win. He followed his performance by having the best game of his rookie season in the Divisional Round.
In Foxborough, Davis found the end zone twice. His first catch was a highlight reel moment against his now teammate CB Malcom Butler. Davis’s one-handed touchdown reception will not be forgotten anytime soon.
With a new coaching staff in place, a healthy offseason thus far and a two-touchdown performance to build on, Davis is primed to make a big jump in his sophomore season. The Titans will need Davis to be the guy they believe he can be–the true number one Mariota needs.
Davis needs to be a force, especially against division opponents. He was only active in four division games, recording seven catches for 55 yards against AFC South opponents. It’s a small sample size, but Davis will need to improve his 7.85 yards per catch average against the division.
Practice Makes Progress
Outside of the division, Davis will only face two familiar opponents in Baltimore and New England–a pair of teams he had solid outings against.
Davis will face some tough secondary units next season in his own division. What will help Davis refine his game is the ability to practice against a secondary that is–on paper–primed to be a force in 2018. This will only enhance Davis’s skillset and should elevate his game.
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OC Matt LaFleur will have new intricate designs in his offense that could scheme Davis open. If that’s the case, it will be up to Davis to make plays on the ball. He has to put in the work to be disciplined in his routes. The miscommunication that was seen last season between Davis and Mariota has to be remedied.
Davis’ development and growth will be key for the balance of the new offense. He must prove his reliability and be a dependable set of hands. If Davis struggles to take the leap to the next level, the offense as a whole could suffer.
The Titans have players in place for a balanced offensive attack. The team that was viewed by many as “one-dimensional” can now add dimensions to the offense. Davis has to be the game changer he was in college. LaFleur knows what Davis does well and surely watched his college tape for reference. He knows Davis can not only make tough catches in traffic, but also do phenomenal things in space.
The “brainchild” of LaFleur is unknown at this time, but expect Davis to be a big part of what the Titans’ offense aims to do in 2018.