While the Tennessee Titans still have questions about their wide receiver corps, they can safely say they have a WR1 in Corey Davis.
The Tennessee Titans went into the 2018 season with a questionable wide receiver corps. Those questions had caveats, though, as leading receiver Rishard Matthews were working their way back from injuries and second-year guys Corey Davis and Taywan Taylor were relatively unproven. Now heading into the 2019 offseason, the Titans’ receiving corps is in a state of disarray, but the top-end appears to be set due to the impressive improvement of Davis.
Davis struggled mightily with injuries during his rookie season. He missed a lot of offseason activties while recovering from ankle surgery and then suffered a debilitating hamstring strain right before preseason began. The rookie ended up missing the entire preseason, but made it back for the regular season opener against the Oakland Raiders, where he caught six passes for 69 yards in his debut. The following week, Davis re-aggravated his hamstring injury and ended up missing five games. He returned in Week 8, but never looked quite right, though he did have an impressive 6/91 on nine targets performance against the Los Angeles Rams in Week 16.
Davis’ breakout came in the divisional round of the playoffs, when he caught five passes for 63 yards and two touchdowns against the New England Patriots. While Davis finished his rookie regular season with a measly 34 catches for 375 yards and zero scores, his performance against the Patriots and the fact that he was able to remain healthy from Week 8 until the end of the playoffs had fans extremely excited for his future.
Fans were given a bit of a scare throughout the offseason because Davis was consistently monitored by the staff, who were playing it very cautious with him and his hamstring. While Davis missed the first preseason game of 2018, he played in the next two and sat out the meaningless finale. He showed no ill effects of the injury that nagged him for an adequate portion of his rookie season, and it showed in his play. Davis caught 13 passes for 151 yards over the first three weeks of the season. That may not seem like anything special, but Davis was forced to catch passes from backup QB Blaine Gabbert for about two full games. When starter Marcus Mariota came back into the staring lineup for Week 4 against the Philadelphia Eagles, Davis exploded for nine catches, 161 yards and the game-winning overtime touchdown.
It looked as if Davis was ready to take off, but a poor stretch of performances by the Titans offense dragged Davis down with the unit over the next three weeks before the bye. The Titans came out of the bye with a newfound offensive plan, and Davis was the main focal point, reeling in 22 passes for 349 yards and three touchdowns during the five-game stretch following the bye week. Take out the Indianapolis Colts game in which Gabbert replaced Mariota and Davis had averaged 15.95 yards per reception since the bye week with those three touchdowns in four games with Mariota throwing to him.
Over the final four weeks of the season, the Titans went away from Davis, but that was by design and necessity. RB Derrick Henry went nuclear starting in Week 14 and the Titans committed to Henry as the offensive’s primary means of moving the ball. Henry toted the rock 87 times over the final four games; in turn, Davis was left with just 21 targets and 13 catches during that span. Davis was still a crucial part of the passing offense, but yet another injury to Mariota and a shift in offensive philosophy didn’t allow the receiver to finish his sophomore year on a high note.
Davis’ second season saw him finish with 65 receptions, 891 yards and four touchdowns. All three statistics led the team, as did his 13.7 yards per reception. The fact that Davis was able to do this while dealing with Gabbert for approximately four full games is a testament to his talent. Davis was easily the Titans’ best receiver — and at times their best offensive player — in 2018 and the Titans should feel great about him going forward. He displayed soft hands, aggressiveness after the catch, fantastic route running and an innate ability to high-point the ball. Being able to stay healthy for all 16 games was just a bonus.