Let's get one thing right, there is not a ton for the Tennessee Titans and their fans to be optimistic about right now. They just dropped a winnable and critical divisional game to the Indianapolis Colts, and sit at a dismal 2-3 on the season.
The team has been maddeningly inconsistent throughout the first five weeks of the season, and as such has not established much of an identity. With the trade deadline looming as well as the bye week, it makes things even more complicated because the deadline is the time when teams really need to know what they are.
Unfortunately, that kind of clarity is something that the Tennessee Titans don't have and don't even seem close to right now.
That being said, the offense has been known as the weak link of the team for awhile, and they have had some encouraging performances in two particularly weak areas. Again, it is tough to truly know with the week-to-week inconsistency, but it feels like they are starting to pick up some momentum.
Tennessee Titans offensive line and receiving core are showing signs of improvement
Going into the season, the Tennessee Titans offensive line was thought of as the position group that in particular, would make or break the season. It was basically a brand new unit going into the season and as expected, they struggled mightily out of the gate.
Week 1 was alright for them and Week 2 was definitely worse, but they were absolutely exposed in Week 3. Andre Dillard could not hold up to save his life against Myles Garrett, and it got everyone thinking back to the debacle that was Dennis Daley at left tackle.
They also got absolutely zero push in the run game, and Derrick Henry had negative rushing yards at halftime of the contest. Optimism for gradual improvement over the season was nonexistent at that moment, but there is reason to have it once again.
The Cincinnati Bengals, while obviously not having a player as good as Myles Garrett, are certainly no slouches on the defensive line and looked to be a bad matchup for the Titans. But they only mustered three sacks the next week, one of which was in essential garbage time, and another was caused by a bad snap where Ryan Tannehill just had to fall on it.
The next week after that in Indianapolis, they were facing a Colts team that was one of the league leaders in sacks. But the Titans held strong and allowed only one sack, and Tannehill was only under serious pressure on one other play, where he impressively got rid of the football to help gain yards.
It actually looks like the team is starting to figure things out from a pass-blocking perspective, given that they held up twice in a row against strong pass-rushing teams. And with Nicholas Petit-Frere's return looming, the Titans will have even more options on the offensive line which can only translate to better results.
The other critical offensive area that looks to be taking a step forward is the passing game, and in particular, DeAndre Hopkins showing what we expected of him. He just had his first monster game of the year with eight catches for 140 yards, which followed another strong performance of four receptions for 63 yards.
Despite some worry of him being washed at age 31, he is showing that he still has plenty of juice left in the tank. At the very least, he has done enough to show that this is not a situation reminiscent of Julio Jones, Andre Johnson, or Randy Moss.
The Tannehill to Hopkins connection is really starting to heat up and keep in mind that in the past two games, Hopkins has garnered all the attention of the defense due to Treylon Burks' absence. But once Burks comes back, assuming he is back to 100% after resting his knee for five weeks, it could help both of them out tremendously, and the Titans could legitimately have their best passing attack since 2020.
Of course, none of this is going to matter if the Titans decide to sell at the trade deadline on October 31, and you could hardly blame them if they did. But the offensive line and pass attack are two reasons why it would be valid to stay the course throughout the season.
Especially with Tim Kelly making a positive impact on the offense, the results very well could get better soon. You are completely justified if you are rolling your eyes at all of this given the overall state of the team, but the main point here is that the recent improvements are signs of things moving in a positive direction.