X factors for the Titans vs. the Bengals: Wide receiver, Nick Westbrook-Ikhine
A.J. Brown and Julio Jones are terrific players. Before the 2021 season officially kicked off, there were some in boxing circles who believed that they had possibly the best wide receiver core in the entire NFL.
Who could blame them? Brown was coming off back-to-back thousand-yard seasons. With Jones coming on board in the offseason, Brown was expected to make a gigantic leap forward. However, that simply didn’t happen.
Brown struggled with the extra attention paid to him during the season and produced meager numbers that consisted of 869 yards and five touchdowns. Jones was an even bigger disappointment, registering a career-low 434 receiving yards and only one touchdown in an injury-plagued season.
Surprisingly, undrafted second-year player Nick Westbrook-Ikhine stepped up in a big way. His numbers won’t fly off the page but he found his footing during the back half of the year. Westbrook-Ikhine torched the Houston Texans for 107 yards. He also finished the season strong, going for 78 receiving yards and a touchdown against, ironically enough, the Texans again.
If Jones continues to have a hard time getting separation and Brown continues to disappear, quarterback Ryan Tannehill should get the ball to Westbrook-Ikhine early and often.