For the first time in a long time, the Tennessee Titans had the quality depth that they needed to make preseason games interesting.
A week from now the Titans will have their 53-man roster and they will be solely focused on beating the New York Giants. While the majority of the 90-man roster was trying to get better each week and making sure that their best foot was forward in front of the coaches, a small part of the team has always had their eyes on this Week 1 matchup.
The talking points of the preseasons so far have been about which players would win the available offensive line positions and which receivers would end up on the roster. However, there are several big names that we haven’t seen (or have seen very little of) during the preseason.
Racey McMath, Nicholas Petit-Frere, Dillon Radunz, and Aaron Brewer will be important for the Titans throughout the season, but here is a reminder of the game-changing talent that has been waiting in the wings.
Tennessee Titans’ secret weapons
The most important player that we haven’t seen, is Ryan Tannehill. Not only does he play the most important position, but he plays it at a much higher level than either of the backups.
In fact, I would argue that you can see his impact when you look at how dominant receivers like Treylon Burks and Kyle Philips have been in practices compared to their production during the preseason games.
Tannehill unlocks the potential of this offense because he has been in this playbook for two years and I would suspect that he and Tim Kelly had discussions on what worked best for the passing game in 2020. Remember, Kelly wasn’t on the staff last year and now he will be in charge of the passing game and if I were him I would throw the 2021 playbook in the trash and go back to what worked under Arthur Smith.
Speaking of things that were better when Smith was the OC, Nate Davis was looking phenomenal in training camp before sustaining an injury during a joint practice with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The right guard should have been mentioned as a possible Pro Bowler in 2020, so a return to form from him would pay dividends across the board.
Right now it seems like the offensive line is going to be Taylor Lewan, Aaron Brewer, Ben Jones, Nate Davis, and Nicholas Petit-Frere. Excluding NPF, we have seen the other four starting linemen play a combined 14 snaps at their positions during the preseason.
It is hard to imagine the offensive line being worse than last season, and there should be a lot of optimism that they will be a healthier and more consistent group this year.
The offensive line will get some help in the form of a revamped group of tight ends, led by Austin Hooper. Whichever player wins that right tackle job is going to be paired up with one of the best blocking tight ends in the NFL, but he obviously isn’t just a run-blocker. Ryan Tannehill developed quick chemistry with Hooper and the two have been working relentlessly to make sure that they are on the same page.
Another player Tannehill has chemistry with is Robert Woods who is much further along in his recovery than anyone could have hoped. Not only did he participate in the joint practices, but it seems like he has passed every test with flying colors.
While the Tennessee Titans may not have a Pro Bowl receiver on the roster, they aren’t going to have a weak link in the passing game.
I think that is about it…oh, and it looks like they have some guy named Derrick Henry? Yep, that guy seems like he could make a big impact if he can play a full season with more talent around him.
26 points in two preseason games is a lackluster result, but the scheme looks good and there are going to be opportunities for big plays once the season rolls around. However, don’t confuse the results of the preseason as a harbinger of the regular season.
Make no mistake about it, this Tennessee Titans team has the talent both on the offensive line and at the skill position to be a juggernaut that beats defenses down with efficiency. Ryan Tannehill has never been the problem, but even if you have your concerns about him all signs are pointing to him looking better than ever.
Enjoy the rest of the preseason, but remember that the real reason for excitement is sitting quietly under wraps waiting to remind the league which team was the dominant power in the AFC last year.