Tennessee Titans 1st quarter awards

JACKSONVILLE, FL - SEPTEMBER 23: A.J. Bouye #21 of the Jacksonville Jaguars leaps to tackle Marcus Mariota #8 of the Tennessee Titans during their game at TIAA Bank Field on September 23, 2018 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)
JACKSONVILLE, FL - SEPTEMBER 23: A.J. Bouye #21 of the Jacksonville Jaguars leaps to tackle Marcus Mariota #8 of the Tennessee Titans during their game at TIAA Bank Field on September 23, 2018 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images) /

Tennessee Titans awards through four games.

The Tennessee Titans are 3-1 and life is good in Nashville.

After September, it is time to look back and figure out who really stood out on a team that outperformed expectations.

Remember these are JUST TITANS AWARDS. Don’t come at me saying that Khalil Mack should be DPOY, because you are obviously right if I was talking about the NFL as a whole but that isn’t what we are doing here.

Alright, with that said let’s get into it.

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Assistant coach of the year: Dean Pees

I love what Matt LaFleur has done. He has arguably done a better job coaching the Titans offense to put them in good position to win games with huge holes in talent while Marcus Mariota, Taylor Lewan, Jack Conklin, Delanie Walker, and Dennis Kelly missed a combined 12 games.

However, Pees has taken a talented defense and despite some injuries they have turned into a top-5 unit.  That is a huge accomplishment when you look at the teams the Titans have played.

Not only has he helped the team conceptually with a great scheme, but he is developing players like Harold Landry, Adoree Jackson and Rashaan Evans, while putting stars like Jurrell Casey and Kenny Vaccaro in position to be big playmakers.

This team has offensive firepower and now that they are healthy watch out, but right now the defense is the unit I am most impressed with.

Defensive player of the year: Jurrell Casey

Casey is off to the hottest start of his career and a lot of that stems from the fact that he is now a full time 3-tech.

As a pass rusher, he is beating some of the best linemen in the NFL and he is on pace for a 10 sack season. Those are just the stats you can quantify. If you look deeper you can see plays where he either should have had a sack or where his disruption leads to someone else making a play.

It isn’t just one-sided dominance either. Vs the run he is splitting double teams and getting in the backfield to force negative plays.

He is this defense’s leader off the field and his play is getting to the point where even with guys like Brian Orakpo, Adoree Jackson, Wesley Woodyard, and Kevin Byard, he is dominating to the point where he is the clear leader on the field as well.

Offensive player of the year: Marcus Mariota

It had to be Mariota. There is such a clear difference in what the team can do when he is on the field, that even when he has a bad play every now and then, you have to just take that with a grain of salt.

There will be a lot made of his TD to INT rate this year, but people forget that both of the INTs he threw against Miami came after he lost feeling in his hand. He really should be somewhere near 6 TDs to 1 INT, but forget about hypothetical. For his career Mariota is a 2:1 TD to INT player, and he has done that for most of his career without having much talent at the skill position.

Not only that, but what he has done with his feet to move the chains has helped the Titans out in nearly every win they have had.

Throw in the fact that he now has 11 career clutch wins and that he has been nails when healthy this year and there was no other option.

Comeback player of the year: Quinton Spain

All off season we heard pundits and reporters talking about how Spain and Josh Kline needed to be replaced and that they were to blame for the offensive line woes. I don’t think I ever full subscribed to that.

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Sure, they could use a star at guard but that isn’t really something that exists. Sure some guards get a lot of money, but rarely if ever does a guard make a big difference to an offense.

Spain has come back and played really well for an offensive line that desperately needed the interior to step up this year. With the Titans fully healthy, the offensive line did a great job in protection on Sunday vs the Eagles.

Going forward, the chemistry between Lewan and Spain will continue to show up and prove that the Titans were right to stick with continuity there.

Most improved player: Jayon Brown

Brown is just awesome this year. I preached how Jayon Brown should be a starter on the Titans defense, let’s look at the receipts:

He has been great so far this season with 22 tackles, 3 TFLs, 2 QB hits, and 1 sack, and he is doing all of that despite splitting time with Will Compton and Rashaan Evans.

It looks like next year the best combo of LBs will be Jayon Brown and either Evans if he picks up the defense better or Woodyard if he can still play at a high level. Either way, Brown needs to be on the field.

This is yet another 5th round pick that Jon Robinson has hit on in his tenure with Tennessee and it looks like Brown could be someone who really makes a big impact as the season goes along.