Tennessee Titans desperately need to bring this trend back in 2023

Ryan Tannehill (17) Derrick Henry (22) Tennessee Titans
Ryan Tannehill (17) Derrick Henry (22) Tennessee Titans / Mark Zaleski / The Tennessean / USA

The Tennessee Titans are not expected to have a good year in 2023, and even the most diehard fans should be able to understand why the expectations are low given the state of their roster and their offseason moves.

Despite hinting about several potential moves they could make, they have not pulled the trigger on them. Without a splash move or two, it is going to be hard to take this team seriously as a playoff contender.

For a lot of us, it is not just a question of if a fire sale is going to happen, it is as far as when it might take place. With the big possibility that the roster could be dismantled if the season does not start well, the players and the whole team are under immense pressure.

But remember that these kinds of situations are when the Titans have responded well, as they have won so many games over the years that they really should not have been in. If the disastrous collapse in 2021 was the exception and not the rule, then Mike Vrabel may be able to remind people why they shouldn't count out the Tennessee Titans.

Tennessee Titans could play spoiler in several games once again in 2023

If you are to look back at every Tennessee Titans season since 2018 -- Mike Vrabel's first year as the head coach -- you can pinpoint at least one win that nobody thought was possible. Who knows if it took until last year for teams to finally catch onto that pattern, but it basically stopped then and there.

To be quite frank, the Titans were awful against legitimate teams in 2022, posting virtually no impressive or surprising wins all season. They were 0-9 against teams with a winning record, looking particularly outmatched against some of the actual elite teams they faced.

The only game the Titans really showed their ability to play up to the competition was Week 9 in Kansas City, when they took the Chiefs all the way to overtime on Sunday Night Football with Malik Willis starting. It is fair to assume that they would have won if Ryan Tannehill were under center, but that is beside the point and would not have changed this situation either way.

Who knows if this was just a fluke or more indicative of how the Titans will fare against good teams for the next few years, but winning as heavy underdogs was part of their identity in every year before last. We may soon find out because they will be put in many of those situations this coming year.

For the first time in at least four years, the Titans are clearly not the favorite to win the AFC South, and there are at least five games in which they are the worse team. If they return to their past ways and get a few of those games to go their way, we might be talking about a better team than we anticipated heading in.

And it is not like the idea of the Titans pulling off some upsets is outlandish. Their defense is strong, especially up front, and everyone knows that top-notch defensive performances keep teams in games if not win them.

Not to mention that you still have to respect Derrick Henry's ability to take over a game, and Mike Vrabel is still thought of as someone who gets every ounce of production from the talent he has. So the Titans still check a lot of the boxes in terms of what it takes to win games they should not.

It might sound crazy since they dropped the last seven games in 2022 and did not exactly get better in the offseason, and who knows if they impact their record that much. But the Titans are at their best when they are shocking their opponents, and they certainly will have the chance to do that this year.