Tennessee Titans: 5 important things we learned in camp


What has stood out so far in Tennessee Titans training camp.

With the Tennessee Titans taking the day off, it gives us time to reflect on what we have learned so far.

A few of these are going to be obvious (spoiler alert, everyone likes Malcolm Butler) but either way these are the most important things we have learned over the past week.

1. Malcolm Butler may already be one of the three best defensive players the Titans have.

I wouldn’t say that I was pessimistic about Butler returning to top form after a season where he was benched for unknown reasons going into the Super Bowl. Still, it is fair to say that I didn’t think he would be the team’s best CB from day one.

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To this point, there is really no doubt who my favorite CB is going to be this upcoming season. For a long time I have preached the idea that playmakers are better than play-preventers. Having someone make a splash play in a key moment can change the complexion of a game more than holding a receiver to no catches in my opinion.

So while Adoree Jackson and Logan Ryan have been very good by all accounts, it is Butler making the splash plays and forcing turnovers which is why I am getting higher on him by the day.

2. Jon Robinson is still the best GM in the game

It didn’t take a genius to re-sign Taylor Lewan, the man is beloved by the city of Nashville and is one of the best left tackles in the NFL. However, the story of Lewan getting to that point is more than just a linear progression.

Look back to Robinson’s first move as GM where he talked to Lewan and trusted the young LT and his own gut and traded back to get picks and an All-Pro right tackle in Jack Conklin.

One of the things that doesn’t get talked about enough in that trade is that the abundance of picks let Robinson fill some key spots before the end of the 2nd round. He had addressed RT, EDGE depth (we thought), DT, and added a young, talented, value pick at RB.

With all that addressed he could take a chance on a guy with elite athleticism and production despite not playing in a conference like the SEC or the Big 10. That guy ended up being MTSU’s own Kevin Byard who became an All-Pro as well.

So while all the attention is on how “Robinson didn’t actually draft Lewan” people forget how close this team was to picking Laremy Tunsil with the first overall pick and moving Lewan to RT which just has failure written all over it.

3. Corey Davis is going to have his some big high points this year.

I don’t think I am breaking new ground when I say that Corey Davis is good at football. He is CFB’s all-time leading WR and showed in the playoffs that when he is healthy he is hard for even the best DBs to cover.

If Davis can make it to the season healthy (which Vrabel is trying very hard to make sure happens) then he has shown that he can make some huge plays down the field and after the catch.

Now, is he a finished product? No, he is going to have some drops and some mental mistakes, but still I will take that given the highlights that he is going to produce.

4. Harold Landry is good, but don’t anoint him yet.

I REALLY like Harold Landry and I think he can end up being the best EDGE from the 2018 NFL Draft class. However, I feel like I have a pretty good idea of how his preseason could go:

-Plays well in practice once Orakpo is back.

-Starts on the 2nd defensive unit in the first few preseason games.

-Has some highlight plays that make our jaws drop.

-Fans call for him to start over either Derrick Morgan or Brian Orakpo.

My advice would be to slow down. In one-on-ones and in team drills vs Taylor Lewan, the Pro Bowl LT has won every match up. Now, that is expected but it is going to be hard to remember that after he is blazing past 2nd string OTs in the preseason.

Patience is key, but it is alright to get excited.

5. Take a deep breath, the offense will be fine. In fact they will probably be great.

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People are really freaking out over the offense struggling in practice so I wanted to break down two quick points and then one long one:

1. Marcus Mariota hasn’t had the same combination of WRs and TEs practice for two straight days at any point during these camp practices. So on top of learning new plays he is dealing with different players every day. It is hard to produce without consistency.

2. This Titans defense is going to be good, maybe great. On paper there are no flaws on this defense in their nickel package except maybe the 3rd DL. If that is the biggest issue on a team then you are in for a nightmare of a day as an offense.

Long point:

So, the way these 11-on-11s are designed is that it is supposed to simulate a real game situation right? Well, what is actually happening is the Titans are passing 80% or more in these drills. So if you aren’t running the ball, how are you supposed to get LBs to bite on play action passes? Well, you can’t.

So if they aren’t biting on the fake (which is a huge part of this offense) then if you are Mariota, you are going up against a top-5 defense who is dropping 7 players into coverage and rushing with 4 against an offensive line that is missing an All-Pro right tackle.

That is so hard to be successful against and I don’t know that people really realize that because it isn’t being talked about.

Now sure, Mariota has had some bad passes and he fumbled once but all of that is to be expected. It is practice and the players are knocking the rust off. So if you are worried about the Titans offense just relax.

The defense they face in Miami won’t have a player that would start for the Titans if he were signed so understand that it gets easier, it just takes time.