Will the Tennessee Titans have more big plays on offense in 2022
By Will Lomas
For three years in Nashville, A.J. Brown became synonymous with big plays for the offense. However, it is almost guaranteed that the Tennessee Titans’ offense will be more explosive in 2022 than in 2021, even without Brown.
First and foremost, let’s get the obligatory Todd Downing mention out of the way. While Todd Downing is still in the building, his title change would suggest that he has been demoted from the full-time play-caller. Instead, the Titans will start off with Tim Kelly calling the passing plays on offense while Downing sticks to running plays.
Given what Kelly has done in the past with talented offensive players, it is a massive positive that he is going to be in charge of the passing game.
Even if he wasn’t calling the plays, the odds are that the Titans would have been more explosive on offense this year.
Why the Tennessee Titans’ offense will be more explosive in 2022.
In 2021, Derrick Henry was off to a great start and he was on pace to set the record for most rushing yards in a season until he was injured against the Indianapolis Colts. However, that is a bit misleading because Todd Downing was leaning so heavily on him to carry the offense.
It is hard to blame him when four of your top five receivers are either hurt or gone by the middle of the year, but that can’t happen again in 2022. That is why it was so important to improve the offensive line and the tight end group.
For my money, the 2021 version of Roger Saffold probably isn’t better than Aaron Brewer or Jamarco Jones, and I would say the same about David Quessenberry and Dillon Radunz, or Nicholas Petit-Frere.
If you believe that Quessenberry was adequate in the run game I disagree, but either way, the biggest upgrades should be at left tackle and tight end. Taylor Lewan should be fully recovered from his 2020 ACL injury and tight end Austin Hooper is one of the most effective run blockers in the NFL.
Better run blocking means better chances for Derrick Henry to get to the second level and find a crease to make a big play.
In the passing game, the Tennessee Titans should be better as well. Last year was a bad year for A.J. Brown and Julio Jones, and not just because they were injured. Even when they were on the field they were two of the least effective receivers in the league at creating big plays, just look at the chart from Marcus Mosher below:
Fans will instantly remember Julio Jones making big catches against the Seattle Seahawks and Buffalo Bills, or A.J. Brown’s big catches vs the San Francisco 49ers and maybe his big play against the Indianapolis Colts, but the truth is that nearly all of his highlight plays came from 2019 and 2020.
On the other hand, Robert Woods exploited defenses much better in his limited snaps last season. If he can come in at or near 100% and gets to play an entire season, he will be an upgrade over what the Titans got to see even when the offense was fully healthy.
Then there is the addition of Treylon Burks. Once again, let’s refer to an important Marcus Mosher chart:
The Titans have always been committed to building a team that wears defenses down with physicality and yards after contact instead of trying to find track stars. They want to force defenses to try to tackle the likes of Derrick Henry for four straight quarters. Adding in guys like Treylon Burks, Austin Hooper, Hassan Haskins, Robert Woods, and Chig Okonkwo will only make defenders suffer more over the course of a game.
In an ideal world, the Titans would still have A.J. Brown, but once he made that impossible the Titans did a good job adding Burks who should be a very good (maybe great) player in his own right.
The good news is that he really doesn’t have to be great this season as long as the Tennessee Titans can stay healthier than last year. If they do that, then they have all the tools they need to be more explosive in every phase this year.