While the Los Angeles Rams were feeling euphoric about their Super Bowl win, the Tennessee Titans were able to grab Robert Woods for next to nothing and add the best veteran receiver the Titans have had since signing Nate Washington.
At tight end, the Cleveland Browns couldn’t stop tripping over themselves to make David Njoku one of the highest-paid safeties in the NFL.
In their rush to do that, they cut tight end Austin Hooper and the Tennessee Titans signed him for less than half the price of Njoku, and Hooper is the better player.
Jonnu Smith was great in 2020 with Arthur Smith, but it isn’t hard to imagine a world where Austin Hooper is a better version of that in 2022. Hooper is a better blocker than Smith and both players are very effective receivers.
In fact, when he was with the Atlanta Falcons they used him as an inline blocker and a slot receiver and that led to back-to-back Pro Bowls for Hooper. Then the Browns signed him and had no idea how to use him.
Tennessee Titans additions exceeding expectations so far
Every day that there is an OTA practice that is open to the media, Jim Wyatt posts a recap on the Titans’ official website. No matter which day you read these recaps, you don’t get very far down the page before seeing Woods and Hooper.
It is almost a given at this point that Ryan Tannehill is going to connect with Hooper on several plays over the middle, and the words “consistent” and “reliable” are thrown around frequently. I can’t stress how important that is when you remember just how much different the Titans’ offense looks with a target over the middle who can catch consistently.
Last year Tannehill was stuck throwing to a lost Anthony Firkser, Geoff Swaim, and Chester Rogers and every one of them failed him at one point or another whether that means dropping touchdowns, or running routes short of the sticks, or fumbling the ball directly to the Pittsburgh Steelers…
Just having a tight end who can block well and who can convert third downs is going to be big for this offense, and don’t forget Jonnu Smith was one of the toughest red-zone threats in the NFL when he was healthy. That is a role that they need someone to fill.
As for Woods, his work ethic and effort have been outstanding and while everyone talks about attacking their rehab, Woods clearly is trying to fight and claw to get as healthy as possible. Personally, I expected him to go with more of the Julio Jones route where he didn’t practice because he knew he was safe as a veteran.
Not only is Woods on the field, but he is already building relationships with the other receivers and even Caleb Farley. Both Woods and Farley are rehabbing from their ACL injuries and it probably isn’t a coincidence that both are being praised for their efforts now.
Iron sharpens iron, and it certainly looks like we know what Woods is made of now.
You get out what you put in during OTAs and these veterans are putting in the work to build chemistry and trust with Ryan Tannehill and the coaching staff. That bodes well for their immediate impact and both players deserve this recognition.