Why the Tennessee Titans were lucky to miss the playoffs

Tennessee Titans Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Tennessee Titans Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

After watching Keith Carter and Todd Downing trot out Dennis Daley for 16 straight games, Ran Carthon’s first order of business as the Tennessee Titans’ new GM is to fix the offensive line.

A lot of that can come from people who are actually good at their job and realize that they should start better players that they have on the bench instead of parading out the same players to fail in the same ways week in and week out.

Last year that should have meant that Daley was on the bench by the bye week and Aaron Brewer should have been next to him eating a $2 steak while they watched Dillon Radunz and Corey Levin start at left tackle and left guard respectively.

Would it have been perfect? No, but it wouldn’t have been one of the worst left tackle/left guard combinations in NFL history like what the Tennessee Titans decided to go with all season.

The bar was set incredibly low last year and Mike Vrabel still let Todd Downing keep all of the power and playcalling duties. If Vrabel is going to give an OC like that two seasons before reluctantly firing him, OC candidates should be champing at the bit to get to Tennessee and lock down that job security.

While it is up to the new coaches to use the correct players, it would help to have enough talent on the roster where it was so obvious that they couldn’t possibly mess it up. That brings us back to Ran Carthon.

Free agency is his wheelhouse and that is probably going to be the one time in the offseason when he has the biggest voice in the room. However, I’m not sure that Carthon is going to swing for the fences on any of the offensive tackles in free agency.

Instead, I think this will be where the Tennessee Titans go with their first-round pick. That isn’t a big secret either, just look at any 2023 NFL Mock Draft right now and you will see them linked to a left tackle with the 11th pick in the draft.

But, let’s go back to an argument that fans were having a month ago. Fans were split on whether they wanted to go to the playoffs and almost certainly get bounced in the first round, or if they wanted a higher pick.

Here is why the right answer was always to reluctantly root for a loss in Jacksonville.

Matt Miller shines a light on why the Tennessee Titans were lucky

ESPN draft analyst Matt Miller had a tweet on Wednesday morning that summed it up perfectly.

Right now, there are five players that seem like a lock to be drafted before the Tennessee Titans pick first. Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud, Will Levis, Will Anderson, and Jalen Carter. Some other players like Tyree Wilson, Myles Murphy, Anthony Richardson, and Joey Porter have also gotten a lot of top-10 buzz.

If those 9 players are all top-10 draft picks, then that means that the Tennessee Titans will get a chance to draft either Paris Johnson or Broderick Jones. Johnson is a consensus top-10 talent and Jones is just below that, so neither would be a reach with the 11th pick.

Those two and Peter Skoronski will almost certainly all be gone by the midway point of the first round (Dane Brugler had all three gone by the 12th pick), and after those three it is a steep drop in talent.

How big? Well, the next offensive tackle in Brugler’s mock draft doesn’t get drafted until the 47th pick. So if the Titans had made the playoffs and were insistent on drafting an offensive tackle, that means they would be over drafting him by about 26 picks.

Does that sound familiar? It should, because the last time the Titans reached for a tackle late in the first round, they ended up with Isaiah Wilson.

As for the situation at receiver, Brugler’s mock (which you should really check out) has the Tennessee Titans drafting Jalin Hyatt the Biletnikoff Award winner from the University of Tennessee.

In a world where the Tennessee Titans make the playoffs, they likely end up with the 19th pick in the draft. This means that they would have the 50th pick in the second round, and by that point, 8 receivers had been drafted. So instead of getting their 5th ranked player at the position, they would have been stuck with their 9th option at receiver.

It is rough missing the playoffs, but with a broken-down team and a roster that had almost no confidence at the end of that seven-game losing streak, the Tennessee Titans were set to be bounced out in the first round.

With mock drafts coming out, things are becoming more and more clear. All Tennessee Titans fans should be able to look at both of these scenarios and realize just how lucky it was that the team lost that Week 18 game and the benefits it could yield long-term.