Over Mike Vrabel's tenure with the Tennessee Titans, veterans have always gotten the chance to start before rookies were given their turn.
That isn't necessarily a bad thing for the individuals involved. Veterans get to come to Tennessee knowing that they aren't going to have a rookie breathing down their necks from day one. Meanwhile, rookies can learn at a reasonable pace without being thrown into the fire when they aren't ready.
However, sometimes it is clearly the wrong decision and the team suffers. In recent history, we saw the Titans start Johnathan Joseph over Kristian Fulton, Matt Dickerson got to start over Teair Tart, and Nick Westbrook-Ikhine got to start over Kyle Philips and Treylon Burks.
All of those are pretty egregious and they weren't popular moves at the time, but the recent incident that sticks out in my mind like a thorn in the Tennessee Titans leaving Chig Okonkwo on the bench for the first 10 weeks of the season.
It was so frustrating that I tweeted this in the middle of November:
Later that week questions started being asked in press conferences about why the Tennessee Titans weren't using one of the most explosive tight ends in the NFL. It wasn't a coincidence that Chig's usage and production started to take off the following week once people in the building were actually forced to acknowledge his impact.
It wasn't a small difference in usage either, take a look at what the did with him in the last eight games of the season.
Okonwko's usage in the first 9 weeks: 150 snaps, 17 targets, 141 yards, 1 TD
Okonwko's usage in the final 8 weeks: 228 snaps, 29 targets, 309 yards, 2 TD
Unfortunately, this year could feel like deja vu to start the season because that is what will probably happen to Josh Whyle, the Tennessee Titans rookie tight end from Cincinnati.
The most imposing Tennessee Titans rookie
Even though Trevon Wesco is going to be better than Geoff Swaim, it is going to be painful to watch Whyle get minimal reps this year.
At 6'7, 250 lb. Whyle is built like a create-a-player on Madden and he tested like one too with an 8.98 RAS. On top of his athleticism and size, he is also a perfect fit for what the Tennessee Titans need on the other side of Chig Okonkwo.
Okonkwo and Whyle can move around the formation and lineup inline, detached, in the slot, in the backfield, or out wide, which means defenses would have a tough time accounting for them in two tight end sets. While Okonkwo is undoubtedly the better receiver, Whyle's physical traits mean that he is someone who will make you pay if you don't cover him.
In an offense that has to be based around deception and taking advantage of mismatches inside the tackle box, Whyle would be so much harder to defend than Wesco who is a better blocker but he won't hurt you as a receiver.
If the Tennessee Titans really want to know what this team is and what they can be in 2024, they should start Whyle or at least use him heavily starting in Week 1. However, we have seen this enough to know that the chances of the coaching staff realizing this are low and the best that fans can hope for is that they rethink it after the bye week.