Tennessee Titans left guard battle will tell us a lot about their plans

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

Inconsistency was nothing special for the Tennessee Titans offense last season, in fact, “inconsistent” is a great way to describe nearly every position group on that side of the ball last year.

The top four wide receivers were all on I.R. at some point in 2021 and when they were on the field the results were underwhelming. At running back, Derrick Henry missed half of the season and the Titans couldn’t get out of their own way until they (mercifully) had a bye week after the New England Patriots game to regroup.

One of the biggest criticisms of the 2020 offseason was letting Jonnu Smith walk in free agency without adequately addressing the position, and that was clear when the tight ends looked…overmatched every single week.

Even with how bad all of those positions were, the worst offender by far was the Tennessee Titans’ offensive line.

The Tennessee Titans’ offensive line issues in 2021

The good news is that Ben Jones played nearly every snap of the 2021 season (98%) and he was the most consistent lineman of the five last year.

Meanwhile, three players played 80% of the snaps or less with Nate Davis at 80% and Rodger Saffold and Taylor Lewan both playing 73%.

David Quessenberry played more snaps than any of the other starting linemen, which might have been one of the worst outcomes for the team because it didn’t give Dillon Radunz a chance to overtake the veteran.

The good news is that Radunz should replace David Quessenberry who (despite what PFF may say) was inconsistent at his best, but most often he was just bad. Radunz may not be perfect, but he is a great athlete and he should be an improvement immediately at right tackle based on what he showed in college, during the preseason, and in his last-minute start against Nick Bosa.

Lewan should be back to 100% this year after being two years removed from ACL surgery, and Nate Davis has shown the ability to be good in the past even if he had a rough year in 2021. With Ben Jones re-signed and the aforementioned Radunz takeover imminent, that means that 4 of the 5 offensive line spots should be better this season.

However, the left guard position is still wide open and the winner of the battle for that spot will tell us a lot about what the Tennessee Titans want to do and what they can do schematically.

Aaron Brewer should be viewed as the favorite because he has spent two years as a backup in this offense and he has done well. Where he does his best work is on the move and getting to the next level, which was a big benefit in Arthur Smith’s version of the Titans offense which featured fewer double-teams and pulling guard plays (power, trap, counter, etc.) and more outside zone runs.

If the Titans want to incorporate more of the offense that scored 30 points per game, then they should view Brewer as a viable option.

However, there is a good chance that Mike Vrabel decides to throw out the results from last year and chalk most of the failure up as injury issues. If he does and the offense features running plays similar to what they did last year, then veteran addition Jamarco Jones may have the advantage.

Jones isn’t a great guard, but he is probably 30-40 pounds heavier than Brewer which gives him a natural advantage on combo blocks. He isn’t as slow as you might think on pulls either and even if he doesn’t always sustain blocks, he deals a blow to the end man on the line of scrimmage when he builds up a head of steam.

So, what do the Tennessee Titans want? If they want to run what they ran in 2021, then Jones fits that mold the best. However, if they want to go back to the 2020 offense, then Brewer is going to be a better fit and help set up more home run plays.