Regardless of who the top receiver is, the Tennessee Titans were at their best offensively when they had several targets to throw to instead of putting all of their eggs in one basket.
Corey Davis, A.J. Brown, Jonnu Smith, Anthony Firkser, and Adam Humphries were a great group of weapons to have in 2020 and those are probably the five best pass catchers that the Titans have had in decades.
It is easy to forget how effective they were given the low-volume passing game in Tennessee and Derrick Henry’s Hall of Fame-type season, but all five of those players were devastatingly efficient in 2020.
Last season the Titans tried to improve on that group by replacing Corey Davis, Adam Humphries, and Jonnu Smith with Julio Jones, Josh Reynolds, and a bigger role for Anthony Firkser.
Unfortunately, Julio couldn’t make it more than five snaps without hurting his hamstring and A.J. Brown couldn’t live up to the 2020 version of A.J. Brown due to multiple injuries.
Throw in a disgruntled Josh Reynolds, regressing Frikser, and half of the season without Derrick Henry, and you can see why Ryan Tannehill should get more credit for surviving the 2021 campaign (oh, and getting the top seed in the AFC playoffs).
Looking at all the information we have right now, it seems like the Titans’ pass catchers in 2022 are going to blow away the 2021 group and contend with that aforementioned 2020 group for the title of “best Tennessee Titans weapons” of the past two decades.
How does Kyle Philips fit into the Tennessee Titans’ passing offense?
The team needed leadership and proven ability at receiver and tight end and they seem to have gotten that in Robert Woods and Austin Hooper. Both players have been exceptional by all accounts and they have been everything that fans could have hoped for both in the locker room and on the field.
You can win a lot of games with Woods as your WR1 and Hooper as your TE1 provided that you have a healthy Derrick Henry in the backfield behind Ryan Tannehill. However, it makes life much easier when Treylon Burks looks like a great WR2 already.
From everything we have seen from Burks so far, he looks like he has the chance to set a rookie receiving record for the franchise (since becoming the Titans) even as the second option in this passing offense.
If you go back to the title of this article, you might be asking where Kyle Philips fits into all of this. Well, Burks has been so good, that there is a real chance that he is the starting “Z” receiver sooner rather than later. Before last week, it looked like Burks was going to spend most of his time as the slot receiver between Woods and NWI.
If NWI can be moved out of the starting lineup and revert back to being the primary backup for all three WR positions like he has been in the past, that means that Kyle Philips would have a clear path to starting as the Tennessee Titans’ slot receiver.
That would be a game changer for this offense because Philips has been nothing short of electric so far in training camp. He has been so dominant that he has had to call out Kevin Byard in one-on-ones because he is the only slot defender that has had a chance to cover him.
His competitiveness and his obvious skill have sent him skyrocketing up the depth chart and as of Thursday, he has had back-to-back padded practices where he has taken 1st team reps.
The knock on Philips is going to be that he is undersized and that he isn’t ever going to be a great blocker, so you have to understand what you are getting when you put him on the field. Despite that, it would be a massive mistake for a defense to assume that the Titans wouldn’t run the ball with Philips on the field because he was asked to block frequently at UCLA and he never shied away.
Even if he isn’t knocking guys off of the line of scrimmage, Philips is still going to maintain good leverage and stay in position to wall off defenders from making an easy tackle. Remember, Adam Humphries was asked to be a run blocker on 33% of his snaps when he was with the Titans and as long as you are willing to put in the effort then defenses have to respect that it might still be a run play.
This rookie class has exceeded everyone’s expectations and Kyle Philips is too good to ignore at this point. Expect to see him frequently this year on offense and special teams, and prepare to be impressed.