If I say someone is a “complete player” does that make you think they are good or bad at their job?
Somewhere along the line, the term “complete player” became a catch-all for Titans fans that had to describe the likes of Delanie Walker, Jonnu Smith, Corey Davis, Rishard Matthews, Jonnu Smith, or any other skill position player on the roster before Ryan Tannehill took over.
Some of that is because the Titans just didn’t have guys who stood out in any particular area. So, instead of getting production everyone was force-fed lines about how the Titans’ skill guys were as good as anyone in the NFL because they did a bunch of stuff that didn’t show up on the box score.
The other part of that is because talking heads like to divide players into clean, easy-to-describe roles.
As a receiver, you are either a burner, a route runner, a red zone target, or a chain mover. For tight ends, you are either an inline blocker, an H-back, a jumbo slot, or a chess piece.
The thing is, most of the guys in the NFL are a mixed bag and those descriptions don’t hold up to scrutiny.
For example, how would you define A.J. Brown? I wouldn’t call him a burner, but it seems nearly impossible for defensive backs to prevent him from 40+ yard receptions because of his speed and strength after the catch. Then again, they can’t stop him in the red zone either, so would you call him a red zone target?
Because of these labels, the nuance of what a player can do gets lost. With 20/20 hindsight I can tell you Corey Davis wasn’t producing with Marcus Mariota as his quarterback and Terry Robiskie as his OC.
However, at some point the coaches had to defend why Corey Davis wasn’t producing like a top-5 pick, and to defend him they talked about his blocking…and we have never heard the end of it.
And to be fair, Corey Davis is a very good blocker and he can block from a tight bunch set, out on the boundary, down the field, or really anywhere he need him to. That is a good thing and not a bad thing, but because his blocking ability was used as a shield in his younger years, no one wants to talk about it.
On the other hand, people love to hear that Jonnu Smith is a good blocker because it is important for them to feel like he isn’t a one-dimensional player. Again, this is definitely a good quality to have and it helps explain his additions to the offense that are outside of the box score.
Tennessee needs blockers and they need guys who can make the most of their catches because, in the Titans offense, no one gets a lot of targets. That is because the workload that Derrick Henry thrives with helps set everything up in this offense, so no skill position players are going to get force-fed passes including A.J. Brown who is the WR1.
So to recap, what does this offense need opposite A.J. Brown and on a team that has an elite running back?
A wide receiver who can block and who can make the most of his targets, someone who can do it all, to put a label on that let’s just call them a… “complete player”.
Sure, it is corny to hear about how well a wide receiver can block over and over again, but that is what this team needs and what they have thrived with over the last two seasons.
So if Corey Davis and Jonnu Smith are both above-average blockers and fits in the Titans offense, then the tie-breaker should be how dangerous they are as receivers right?