Tennessee Titans secondary does not need drastic changes this offseason

Tennessee Titans (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)
Tennessee Titans (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images) /

As the Tennessee Titans season continued to fall apart towards the end, one of the many weaknesses on the team became their secondary.

The group (specifically the cornerbacks) weren’t household names, but they have proven to at least be formidable when they and the rest of the defense are healthy.

That was not even close to the case in 2022, as injuries to the pass rush and the defensive backs further exposed the holes in the secondary. While injuries were a huge part of the downfall of the Titans this season, the secondary still showed some flaws that were question marks heading into the season.

That being said, the issues are not as big as they may appear. Even though the defensive backs have been a problem for the Tennessee Titans for a few years now, they are still on a good trajectory and need relatively smaller fixes in order to reach their potential.

The Tennessee Titans’ secondary will get better with time

When you look at the starters in the Tennessee Titans’ secondary, they are actually quite a talented group on paper. Kevin Byard and Amani Hooker are an outstanding safety duo, Kristian Fulton plays like a bonafide shutdown corner when at his best, Roger McCreary was a second-round rookie this past year that led the team in snaps played, and Elijah Molden is a talented slot corner who only got better in his rookie year.

Unfortunately, factors in and out of their control in 2022 kept them from truly rising to the occasion and showing what they are capable of.

First and most obviously, they were nowhere near at full health, as Byard and McCreary were the only ones who did not miss a game. Hooker only played in nine — not even full — games due to a multitude of injuries, Fulton missed a handful of games as well most notably all but the last game down the stretch, and Molden was in for part of two games, but for all intents and purposes did not play in the 2022 season due to a nagging groin injury.

Another issue in that secondary, and one that the Titans knew very well heading into the season, is their lack of experience. Byard and Hooker are experienced with seven and four years under their belts respectively, but the corners are still very raw in the grand scheme of things.

Fulton was only in his third year in 2022, McCreary was obviously a rookie, and Molden once again was pretty much inactive for all of his second season due to that groin injury. Knowing that cornerback is one of the hardest positions to master early on in your NFL career, you can see why this group was going to be far from perfect this year.

On top of that, the entire secondary really lacked depth. The most noticeable next men up all year were Andrew Adams, Terrance Mitchell, Josh Kalu, Tre Avery, and Lonnie Johnson Jr, who were all alright, but obviously nowhere near starting-caliber and even they battled lots of injuries.

So when you look at it holistically, this was an injured and inexperienced, and those issues got exposed in 2022. The good news is that those issues are likely to improve in the 2023 season.

Fulton has been fairly inconsistent but has seemed to be getting closer and closer to becoming a legit number-one cornerback as his career has gone on. Three years is also not a long time for someone playing at his position, so continuing to get better and more consistent is not an unreasonable expectation for him heading into next year.

McCreary had his fair share of good and not-so-good games in 2022, but he showed that he can play, and again, you can only expect a rookie corner in his situation to struggle on multiple occasions. He was left as the lone starter on the outside going up against opposing teams’ best receivers for multiple weeks as the season came to a close, which is not a recipe for success for a guy like him.

Molden will essentially be in his second year in 2023 due to his groin injury, which is a bit of a setback, but he should be extra motivated due to not playing in 2022. The bottom line is that all three of the starting corners for the Titans should be at least slightly better simply due to getting another year under their belts.

Additionally, the secondary should get a pretty big boost due to reinforcements during the offseason. And this does not mean giving up a ton of money and picks to swing for a guy like Jalen Ramsey, but getting true quality depth players to stabilize and give them some insurance options in the event of injuries.

Guys like Jamel Dean, Cam Sutton, Jimmie Ward (who may follow Ran Carthon to Tennessee), and Adrian Amos come to mind as guys who can rotate in and out and even start if anyone goes down. The Titans will have cap space to use this offseason, so they can realistically afford to go after one corner and one safety and give their secondary a lot of versatility.

The injuries are going to be the biggest question mark, and guys like Fulton and Hooker especially are going to be looked at pretty carefully next year since they have had issues staying healthy since 2021. And it may seem that the injury issues the whole group had in 2022 cannot repeat in 2023, but we said that about the entire team heading into this year, and look what happened.

You cannot always control who gets hurt and who does not, but the other two — lack of experience and substance — are well within the Titans’ control and almost sure to improve next year. Plus, they hired a reputable rising star as their secondary coach moving forward, which should bring even more stability to a group that desperately needs it.

With that hire, the Tennessee Titans are already making necessary changes to their secondary, and are not far off from having the tools to realize their potential. They just need some quality veteran presence to make them tougher to play against while the experience issue solves itself with time.