An In-Depth Look at the 2020 Tennessee Titans – Power Ranking 16by Mason Thompson June 27, 2020
Tennessee comes in at the 16th spot, ahead of Minnesota in 17th by .03, and behind the 14th spot by .51. The Titans made it to the AFC title game last year behind a revamped Ryan Tannehill and pounding the rock with Derick Henry. Most of the team remains the same besides the loss of Jack Conklin and the trade of Jurrell Casey. Tennessee is still a good team, but it’s unknown if last year’s success will translate to this year.
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- Overall – 80.485 (16th)
- Offense – 80.365 (18th)
- Defense – 80.885 (14th)
- Coach and Culture – 81.5 (T-14th)
- Home Field Advantage – 80, 20th (4% Defense, 2% Overall)
Quarterbacks – 77.5, T-19th (36% Offense, 27% Overall)
The Titans turned to Tannehill after a subpar start to the season under Marcus Mariota. Tannehill completed over 70 percent of his passes for over 2,700 yards, 22 touchdowns, and six interceptions. He added four rushing touchdowns as well. It was a wild season for the Titans and Tannehill’s resurgence was the main reason. The biggest reason why this ranking is so low is that nobody knows if last year’s success will continue this year. I have been a big fan of Tannehill and didn’t understand the constant criticism towards him for most of his career.
Behind Tannehill, there will be a battle for the backup role. Logan Woodside was one of the late-round quarterbacks in the 2018 draft that many thought could develop into a starter in a few years. Woodside had a solid preseason last year where he threw four touchdowns and no interceptions. He will battle with Cole McDonald who the team took in the seventh round of the draft. McDonald is fairly similar to Tannehill as he has a big arm and some scrambling ability as he had seven touchdowns on the ground last year at Hawaii. If Tannehill were to go down, the team would have to go to even more of a run-oriented offense under Woodside or McDonald.
Running Backs – 93.5, 3rd (4% Offense, 3% Overall)
Tennessee retained Derrick Henry with the franchise tag. The Titans pounded him last year as he had over 300 attempts and totaled 1,540 yards and 16 touchdowns on the ground and also added another 206 yards and two touchdowns receiving. He will play on the tag this year and the front office will need to decide on if they want to risk paying a running back like the Rams and Cardinals have done and seen those running backs deteriorate at a rapid pace. Henry is one of the best backs in the league, but he doesn’t have the receiving ability that the likes of Christian McCaffrey, Alvin Kamara, or Saquon Barkley have that could perhaps impeding his contract talks with Tennessee.
The Titans know that paying Henry is a big risk and prepared for life without him during the draft. Tennessee may have found Henry’s heir apparent by drafting Appalachian State running back, Darrynton Evans, who the team took in the third round. Evans may be more of a complete back than Henry, as he had five touchdowns receiving last year, which he added to his 18 rushing touchdowns. He averaged almost six yards per carry last year on 255 attempts. With Dion Lewis out of the way, Evans will likely take over as the pass-catching back this year and could eventually take over for Henry next year depending on how Henry does.
Behind those two, Tennessee doesn’t have much depth at running back. Daylyn Dawkins had 11 rushing attempts last year for 26 yards and returns this year but that’s about it.
Pass Catchers – 78.5, T-22nd (17% Offense, 8% Overall)
Tennessee got a steal in the second round of last year’s draft when they selected A.J. Brown. In his rookie year, Brown totaled 1,051 yards on 52 catches for eight touchdowns. He will again make a huge step forward this year and will have more opportunities as well with over 100 targets being vacated from last year. Corey Davis has not lived up to his draft pedigree as being a top-five selection and has been overtaken by Brown as the team’s number one receiver. Adam Humphries returns and will be the slot receiver again this year after he had 37 catches for 374 yards and two touchdowns last year.
Behind those three, the depth falls off immensely. With Tajae Sharpe going to Minnesota, the fourth receiver spot will be a battle between Kalif Raymond and Cody Hollister. The two combined for 11 catches last year and a touchdown.
Jonnu Smith will take over as the tight end with Delanie Walker yet to be retained. Smith had 35 catches for 439 yards and a touchdown last year and outperformed Walker but will now be in line as the clear cut number one option at the tight end position. Walker’s 31 targets will likely be sent to Smith this year.
Offensive Line – 82.5, T-9th (24% Offense, 12% Overall)
Tennessee’s offensive line retains four of their five starters with Taylor Lewan, Rodger Saffold, Ben Jones, and Nate Davis. Davis stepped it up in the last few weeks and will look to continue that trend this year. The right tackle spot will be a battle between Dennis Kelly and Isaiah Wilson, who was the team’s first-round selection.
Run Defense – 80, 19th (6% Defense, 2% Overall)
Tennessee traded Casey to the Broncos for a measly seventh-round pick. Trading him opens the door for last year’s first-round pick, Jeffery Simmons to be the main man on the front line. Simmons had 32 tackles and 4.5 tackles for loss in nine games as a rookie after he recovered from his injury he suffered in the pre-draft process. DaQuan Jones is a long-time, steady veteran who is in the middle of the defensive line. Jack Crawford was brought in as a depth piece during the offseason. Matt Dickerson, Isaiah Mack, and Larrell Murchison will battle for reps on the defensive line.
Pass Rush – 82, T-13th (21% Defense, 10% Overall)
Harold Landry led the team in sacks last year with nine and looks to take another major step forward in his third year. Tennessee made a bold move when they brought in Vic Beasley on a prove-it deal this offseason. After his breakout in 2016, Beasley fell off a bit but made a bit of a resurgence last year totaling eight sacks. The Titans got a lot of production last year from their depth edge rushers as Kamalei Correa had five sacks, Derick Roberson had three, and Reggie Gilbert had one.
Casey had five sacks last year but is now gone. Simmons totaled two sacks in his nine games and will look to show why Tennessee took a chance on him in the first round, despite knowing he wouldn’t be able to play the whole year and Evans had 2.5 sacks last year.
Linebackers – 79.5, 17th (15% Defense, 4% Overall)
The tandem of Evans and Brown is solid. Evans is more of the run stuffer, while Brown is the coverage linebacker who had eight pass deflections and an interception last year. Both scored on fumble returns last year as well.
The Titans have an intriguing young prospect in David Long Jr to back those two up. Long had 15 tackles, a pass deflection, and a forced fumble in his limited playing time last year. Nick Dzubnar was brought in during the offseason and will provide some veteran insurance.
Secondary – 81, T-14th (26% Defense, 17% Overall)
The Titans secondary was kind of a mess last year. Malcolm Butler‘s inconsistent play was obvious, and the team eventually brought in Trumaine Brock for insurance. Logan Ryan hasn’t been retained following a four-interception season. Butler is back again this year but will be battling with Johnathan Joseph and second-round pick, Kristian Fulton for a starting spot. Adoree’ Jackson missed time last year due to injuries and is quietly becoming one of the brightest young cornerbacks in the league. Ibraheim Campbell is the and Tye Smith round out the cornerback room.
The safety tandem is one of the best in the league with Kevin Byard and Kenny Vaccaro in the starting spots. The two combined for 168 tackles, 15 pass deflections, and six interceptions last year, with Byard receiving five. Behind those two are two young players in Amani Hooker and Dane Cruikshank who can both play in a variety of different roles.
Coach and Culture – 81.5, T-14th (19% Offense, 28% Defense, 15% Overall)
Arthur Smith returns as the offensive coordinator this year with no real differences from last year. Tannehill is the starting quarterback for this year. While there are some questions on if his play will continue like it did last year, there could be worse situations. The team will continue to ground and pound behind Henry and Jonnu Smith will likely have an expanded role with Walker out. The offensive line lost Conklin but immediately found his replacement and has an improving player in Davis. Tennessee comes in 18th for offensive coach and culture.
Mike Vrabel might have to take full reigns of the defense this year with Dean Pees retiring. Vrabel should have no problem taking over a defense that ranked 12th last year and has a secondary that is solid besides an inconsistent Malcolm Butler. The front seven has a ton of untapped potential at its disposal and Vrabel will try to get the most out of all those players. The Titans rank 16th in defensive coach and culture.
Tennessee is right where most people had them last year, smack dab in the middle. Most sites have the Titans in the top-ten of their power rankings based on last year’s incredible run into the playoffs. With more tape on Tannehill and defenses keying in on Henry more than ever, I don’t see Tennessee having that same success this year. The Titans are still a playoff threat, but with only one reliable option at receiver, Tannehill could be at a loss at times this year.
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