The 2016 season
Head coach: Mike Mularkey
Offensive coordinator: Terry Robiskie
Team record: 9-7
Total games missed: 1
Playoff appearance: No
Marcus Mariota passing stats: 3,426 YDS, 26 TD, 9 INT, 61.2 CMP%
Significant injuries: Broken fibula
The 2016 campaign was undoubtedly Marcus Mariota’s best statistical season as a professional. After a slow 1-3 start, Mariota began to display flashes of brilliance that translated to team success, as well. In 2016, The Titans finished above .500 for the first time since 2011.
Although the talent was nowhere near as lackluster as 2015, the 2016 Titans still had a lot of glaring holes. The team especially struggled defensively, the secondary in particular. Cornerbacks Perrish Cox and Brice McCain seemed to help the other teams more than they would their own.
This often forced the offense into some high-scoring games, which were the kinds of games that the Titans were better equipped to handle than previous years, but it was obvious that the team lacked the type of firepower necessary to make a serious title run.
Although the offense was much improved, they still lacked a true No. 1 receiver. They acquired Rishard Matthews via free agency, who ultimately played the role of a No. 1 receiver, but did not have the production of one.
Matthews accumulated a solid 945 yards and nine touchdowns on 65 catches. Matthews did not put up elite wide receiver numbers, but he was an obvious improvement from anything the Titans had out wide the previous year.
Meanwhile, Delanie Walker continued to be Mariota’s go-to safety blanket. However, aside from those two, Mariota was left to throw to borderline league-average players at best.
The running game was a huge improvement from 2015 to 2016. The Titans went from failing to have a running back cross the 600-yard mark in 2015, to having the AFC rushing champion in 2016 after trading for Demarco Murray in the offseason.
Offensive coordinator, Terry Robiskie, debuted his “exotic smash-mouth” offense, which helped Murray drop 1,287 rushing yards and nine touchdowns in his first season as a Titan. The improved running and passing games were both influenced by a vastly improved offensive line in 2016.
According to Pro Football Focus, all five Titans starting offensive linemen from 2016 received a grade of 80 or above. Mariota was sacked a low 23 times in 2016, 15 less sacks than were allowed in 2015 (38).
As consistent as the O-line was in 2016, it was one freak accident that ultimately ended their season. Mariota broke his leg Week 16 after Jacksonville Jaguars defensive tackle, Sheldon Day, fell awkwardly on the back of Mariota’s leg.
The team ultimately failed to make the playoffs despite posting their first winning season since 2011. This injury not only caused the 2016 season to fizzle out, but it would also cause a myriad of problems for the following season, as well.