Tennessee Titans tight end Chig Okonkwo deserves more respect

Jacksonville Jaguars v Houston Texans
Jacksonville Jaguars v Houston Texans / Wesley Hitt/GettyImages

Outside of running backs, the Tennessee Titans have been a fantasy football graveyard for years.

Whether people want to admit it or not, Mike Vrabel's offensive philosophies were antiquated when he took the job in Tennessee and they never changed. He was quick to admit that he thought that championships were still won the same way that they were 20 years ago, and times are different.

A byproduct of that was a roster built around pass catchers whose blocking ability was more important than their ability to run routes or get open in the passing game. The goal was to run it whenever possible regardless of whether the running back was Derrick Henry, D'Onta Foreman, Dontrell Hilliard, or Adrian Peterson. When that was no longer possible, then, and only then, could you think about passing the ball.

Things will be different with an offensive play caller whose coaching career has revolved around quarterbacks and passing the ball.

Of course, guys like Will Levis, Calvin Ridley, and DeAndre Hopkins are going to have better seasons with someone like that in charge, but they aren't the only ones.

Treylon Burks is going to have a chance to reset his career with a clean slate, Kyle Philips is actually going to be allowed on the field for a change, and (most importantly for this article) Chig Okonkwo won't have to spend half of his snaps as an inline tight end.

Before people get upset and say, "We shouldn't trust Chig because all he does is drop passes!" calm down. The reality is that a rough start to the season has caused fans to forget that he actually finished the season very well. Look at how different the first half of the season and the second half of the season went for the second-year tight end.

According to PFF, over the first 9 games of the season Okonkwo had 27 receptions for 200 yards with 4 drops.

Over his last 8 games, he had 27 receptions for 328 yards and a touchdown, with only 2 drops.

Those numbers might not wow you, but that is why I started this article off by talking about fantasy football. There is a lack of context around those numbers because none of those take volume into account, and the Titans never had any passing volume under Mike Vrabel.

How good can Chig Okonkwo be for the Tennessee Titans

Do you want to know how good Chig Okonkwo has been over the last two years when you factor volume into the equation? He is 1 of just 7 tight ends in the NFL that have had 900+ yards and 8+ yards per target:

1. Travis Kelce (All-Pro)
2. George Kittle (All-Pro)
3. Mark Andrews (All-Pro)
4. Dallas Goedert
5. Chig Okonkwo
6. Darren Waller (Pro Bowler)
7. Noah Fant

Is Chig a perfect "Y" tight end? No, but that is something that you can teach Josh Whyle to do or something you can find in free agency for cheap. Something that you can't find easily is a tight end that can be a productive, effecient, and explosive option in the passing game and that is what Chig Okonkwo can be for the Tennessee Titans.

Okonkwo is more explosive than any tight end that Bill Callahan had during his time with the Cincinnati Bengals, and we are going to see what a smart offensive mind can do with a weapon like that. During a time when you should be buying stock in the Tennessee Titans passing offense, don't forget to include Chig Okonkwo.