Tennessee Titans 2021 offseason additions showed out in Week 7 win

Tennessee Titans (Mandatory Credit: The Tennessean)
Tennessee Titans (Mandatory Credit: The Tennessean) /

The Tennessee Titans are playing like one of the best teams in the NFL, and it is time to look beyond the obvious names and give them credit.

Remember, it wasn’t that long ago that the Titans were struggling to maintain a winning record even though they were playing teams like the Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, and New York Jets.

It is fair to ask why the team looks better now than it did at the beginning of October. The health of this team is a legitimate concern and the Tennessee Titans have had some of the worst injury luck in the NFL at this point.

Having said that, there are five players who have been playing great week in and week out. Derrick Henry, Ryan Tannehill, Kevin Byard, Jeffery Simmons, and Harold Landry have been the foundation of this team all season long.

That is enough to keep them competitive with anyone in the NFL, but what elevates them from a “winning team” to a “Super Bowl contender” are the five players who have come on lately.

Those five players are David Long, Denico Autry, Elijah Molden, Kendall Lamm, and Julio Jones.

David Long is the only returning player on this list, but after years of flashing, he finally looks ready to take over as the leader of these linebackers. Through six starts he looks like the most explosive linebacker to wear a Titans uniform since Keith Bulluck (or since healthy Jayon Brown) and he already has 51 tackles and 4 TFLs.

Let’s talk about the Tennessee Titans newcomers

Denico Autry has been incredible this season and most of his plays don’t even show up on the stat sheet. Against the New York Jets, he had a tackle on Zach Wilson that was ruled a TFL when it should have been labeled sack (because it was a pass where the tight end was covered). He also had a hit on Josh Allen that affected a pass that Kevin Byard picked off for a crucial interception.

Elijah Molden has been the rookie standout for the Tennessee Titans and he isn’t getting the attention he deserves. He is thriving in coverage, but people don’t see the plays he prevents only the plays he allows.

The best stat to prove his value is that since he has been reinstated as the slot corner (in Week 5) the Titans have had 8 sacks (vs 9 in the four games without him) and an interception in each game. A lot of that is because the offense has to come off of their safety valve because Molden is taking away the tight end or slot receiver.

Kendall Lamm isn’t going to get a lot of attention, but since he took over after Taylor Lewan’s injury the Tennessee Titans scored on every single possession until he was hurt on Sunday and didn’t return.

The point isn’t that Lamm is better than Lewan, the point is that his ability to come in and give them a great backup option at right and left tackle has been one of the differences in winning and losing those two massive games against the Bills and Chiefs.

Finally, Julio Jones isn’t getting enough credit. He was the only real receiving threat for the Titans wins in Weeks 2 and 3, but that has gone unnoticed. On Monday he showed that he can still make the huge plays when he grabbed the incredible 50-yard pass despite pass interference, and on Sunday against the Chiefs he had three catches for 50 yards (though one third-down catch was called back for OPI).

All of these players have been great for the Titans lately and four of the five are players who weren’t with the Titans in 2020. Molden is a rookie, Lamm was a forgotten free agent signing, Denico Autry was an incredible value, and Julio Jones was brought in via a blockbuster trade.

Sometimes it takes some time for new additions to fully figure out their role and for the Tennessee Titans coaches to start to use them correctly. Now it looks like the newcomers are starting to get their feet underneath them and that is dangerous for the rest of the NFL.