Are the 2023 Tennessee Titans less talented than the 2022 Tennessee Titans?

Jacksonville Jaguars v Tennessee Titans
Jacksonville Jaguars v Tennessee Titans / Wesley Hitt/GettyImages

Regardless of how you feel about Ryan Tannehill, things are going to get much worse before they get better if the Tennessee Titans have to start either Malik Willis or Will Levis.

The last two games for the Tennessee Titans have been games that they have desperately tried to win. Against the Indianapolis Colts, Mike Vrabel was frustrated talking about the loss saying that he had been stressing the importance of that game throughout the week.

With their backs against the wall and a bye week in front of them, Vrabel pulled out all the stops at practice before the London game. The players got to practice in the Houston Oilers throwback helmets and coaches went against each other in one-on-one drills to try to inject life and excitement into the team.

If they had won either game it might have given the Tennessee Titans some momentum, but they didn't. They lost both matchups and they lost them both in ways that have made this fan base feel like there really isn't a chance for a bounceback this season.

As we stare into the abyss that is the rest of the season, I can only see a handful of games that are realistically winnable. It seems likely that the Titans are barreling toward a 5- or 6-win season.

Earlier in the week I explained how each loss can be put on a different player, collection of players, or coaching decisions, and how frustrating it is to be losing without someone to focus all of the blame on.

Even though there are a lot of ways that fans can point fingers, I think there are a few things that everyone can agree on. First, Jon Robinson left the team in a bad position and there were several holes to fill this offseason. I have been one of the strongest Jon Robinson proponents and I think anyone who disregards the teams he built is willfully ignorant, but there is no getting around the terrible jobs he did in 2021 and 2022.

Second, Mike Vrabel and Ran Carthon have done a pretty bad job fixing the holes on the roster in their one offseason together.

Dress it up however you want to, but they completely failed to make the offensive line better and if DeAndre Hopkins hadn't fallen into their laps, they would have spent two-thirds of the draft mocking their own fanbase because they were too pleased with themselves for trading up for Will Levis and drafting Jaelyn Duncan to consider addressing the wide receiver position.

A lack of talent on the roster has been the scapegoat for the issues this season, but is that fair? Remember, the Tennessee Titans were 7-3 last season after 10 games, and they did it with one of the most banged-up rosters in the NFL.

The Tennessee Titans roster is better than it was in 2022

Look at the starters on this roster from the Tennessee Titans' road win against the Green Bay Packers and tell me with a straight face that the 2022 roster was more talented than the 2023 group. If you don't want to click the link and scroll, let me just list a few of the starters or key contributors for the Tennessee Titans:

-Dennis Daley (starter)
-Monty Rice (s)
-Joe Schobert (s)
-Andrew Adams (s)
-Geoff Swaim
-Joshua Kalu
-Mario Edwards
-Tre Avery

That group got to 7-wins in 10 games, which was a great job by Mike Vrabel and that coaching staff. It wasn't pretty, but in the end, it worked.

This year Mike Vrabel has lost as many games in his first five weeks as he did in ten weeks last season, and he has done it with a more talented roster. Is this roster great? No, but he is also doing less with more this season.

And before we play the "what if" game to say where the record could be different in a positive way, remember that this team could easily be 0-6 if not for playing a broken Joe Burrow and a 70-yard catch from Treylon Burks in the L.A. Chargers game that went to overtime.

Talent is an issue with this roster, but so are penalties, poor decision making, and a lack of identity.

I believe this team is more talented than the 2022 version (especially once injuries started setting in). The additions of Arden Key, DeAndre Hopkins, Nick Folk, and Peter Skoronski along with the returns of Harold Landry and Amani Hooker, are enough to make that an easy call.

No matter how much the fan base wants to tank this season, Vrabel is scrapping for every single win and his focus is on winning in 2023 even if it hurts the team in 2024 and beyond. If you agree that this team is more talented than the 2022 version, then with an easier schedule and a better roster, you have to say that the bar is 7 wins for this team. Anything less than that is a bad job by this coaching staff and that shouldn't even be a debate.