Anthony Firkser might solve the Tennessee Titans wide receiver issues
By Will Lomas
Anthony Firkser the receiver
This one doesn’t take any imagination or projection if you remember what the Titans did with Firkser last year. Most people know that in 2020 Anthony Firkser played more snaps in the slot than as a traditional tight end.
Something that you might not know and something that drives this point home is that Anthony Firkser actually led the Titans in snaps from the slot this season, so for all intents and purposes, Firkser already was Tennessee’s starting slot receiver.
But the question is, how can Firkser be the TE1 and the team’s primary slot receiver. Well, it not as complicated as it may sound.
First, let’s talk about how rarely the Titans even use a third receiver.
Thanks to the incredible work of Warren Sharp, we 2020 the Tennessee Titans personnel groups broke down like this:
11 personnel (3 WR, 1 TE, 1 RB): 38% (31st in the NFL)
12 personnel (2 WR, 2 TE, 1RB): 35% (Most in the NFL)
21 personnel (2 WR, 1 TE, 2 RB): 10% (9th in the NFL)
22 personnel (1 WR, 2 TE, 2 RB): 4% (12th in the NFL)
13 personnel (1 WR, 3 TE, 1 RB): 9% (3rd in the NFL)
What that tells us is that the Titans love to have their tight ends on the field as frequently as possible. 48% of their offensive plays came from formations with multiple tight ends on the field, tied for most in the NFL with the Cleveland Browns.
So the role of the slot wide receiver was already diminished in this offense.
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The second part of this question is, what happens when Firkser is asked to play those snaps as the Titans slot receiver.
Geoff Swaim was re-signed before free agency started and that is good because I think he would be the next man up as the TE1 if Firkser moved into the slot.
Then, moving into the TE2 spot to replace him (if this was a scenario where they were all on the field) would be a competition between Khari Blasingame who has played a handful of reps at the position in the past, and Jared Pinkney.
If that name sounds familiar to you, it is probably because he was hyped up as a potential top-100 pick before his final season at Vanderbilt. If that name doesn’t sound familiar to you, it is probably because he tested poorly and went undrafted and the Titans signed him to a futures deal earlier this offseason.
Now, again, a tight end could be brought in to be the TE2 or TE3 if the Titans wanted to, but that shouldn’t have anything to do with what Firkser is asked to do.
After talking about how and why the Titans could use Firkser as the TE1 and the SWR, let’s talk about what it would look like in the box score.