Everyone is counting the Tennessee Titans out, which must make Mike Vrabel happier than he has been in a long time.
It isn't a secret that Vrabel wants his team to feel like underdogs every week, and he is getting his wish as the Tennessee Titans are being dismissed by nearly everyone with a pulse.
While most people point to the ongoing 7-game losing streak that earned the Tennessee Titans a 7-10 record last year, those people forget that they began their season 7-3. That precipitous fall can be attributed to two major issues that plagued the Titans last year.
First, Ryan Tannehill got hurt and the entire team unraveled from there. The reason why he got hurt (and reason number two here) is that the Titans had one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL.
While Tannehill isn't the greatest quarterback in the NFL, there is little doubt he makes Tennessee a better team. The Titans became extremely one-dimensional without him. Even as great as Derrick Henry was (and still is), NFL teams need to be much more versatile than what Tennessee showed.
Defensively, the Titans were a mirror of the offense. Tennessee was great against the run, but terrible at getting pressure on opposing quarterbacks. On paper, Tennessee didn't do a whole lot to improve that. Many fans might be left wondering exactly what Tennessee was thinking, but their lack of upscale signings in their secondary just might pay off, at least in 2023. Here are three reasons the Tennessee Titans could surprise people this coming season.
1. The Tennessee Titans are built for the AFC South
Tennessee is probably going to look the same as it did in 2022, with the notable exception of Ryan Tannehill returning and playing a full season (hopefully).
Derrick Henry is going to run the ball early and often, Tannehill will throw from time to time, and the defense is going to stuff the run of the opposing team. It isn't glamorous and it won't win many style points, but this is the stuff that should work well against the Houston Texans and the Indianapolis Colts.
The Texans and Colts will be breaking in new quarterbacks (assuming Anthony Richardson plays early in Indy) meaning those teams will likely run the ball a bit more than they will in future years. That plays right into the hands of Jeffery Simmons, Teair Tart, Harold Landry, Denico Autry, Rashad Weaver, Monty Rice, etc.
In 2022, the Texans were 29th in yards-per-rush allowed at 5.1. The Colts gave up the 26th-most rushing touchdowns last year (20). If the Titans can have success running the ball against the Texans and Colts while also stopping the run, that could equal four wins (for those of you keeping score, the Titans play the Colts twice and the Texans twice each season).