Hopes were high in Nashville, heading into the 2020 NFL Season. After the Tennessee Titans’ were one win away from the Super Bowl in 2019, the 2020 expectations were, at the very least, to return to the playoffs. Mike Vrabel‘s team finished with a record of 11-5 and won the AFC South crown.
During the season, the team offensively scored points with ease, most weeks. The team scored a total of 491 points during the regular season. But the team’s biggest need heading into 2020 was defensively, specifically pass rush. The team thought they addressed that need with the signing of Vic Beasley and the biggest offseason name, Jadeveon Clowney, as the season was set to begin. But Beasley was released by midseason, after playing only a handful of total snaps.
Clowney was placed on injured reserve around the same time, he wasn’t very effective when he was on the field. So that side of the ball was susceptible to giving up big plays to their opponents. The defense surrendered a total of 439 points. The team’s postseason run ended with a loss to Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens in the Wild Card round.
What Went Right
The Titans’ offense got 3,800 passing yards and 33 passing touchdowns from Ryan Tannehill compared to only seven interceptions. Meanwhile, Derrick Henry rushed for over 2,000 yards. The Titans were 16 yards away from having a pair of 1,000 yard wide receivers as A.J. Brown finished with 1,075 and Corey Davis with 984.
What Went Wrong
The defense couldn’t keep their opponents out of the end zone. The lack of a pass rush and consistent secondary play across the board proved costly. If not for their efficient offense, they wouldn’t have won double-digit games. Many questioned the defensive play-calling for most of the season as well after the team announced prior to the season that they wouldn’t employ a defensive coordinator.
Team Award Winners
MVP – Derrick Henry
Henry followed up his 2019 rushing title, with his second straight title in 2020. He’s the first running back to win back to back rushing titles since LaDainian Tomlinson did it in 2006 and 2007. This year, he achieved it by becoming just the eighth running back in NFL history to rush for over 2,000 yards in a season, and the second player from the franchise to make that list, joining Chris Johnson.
Offensive Rookie of the Year – Darrynton Evans
Although he only saw the field in five games due to injuries, Evans saw more snaps as a returner than as a running back. His rookie season in the backfield boasts just 14 carries for 54 yards. Unfortunately for Evans and the Titans, he is the only guy this award can go to. Prior to the season, it was expected this award would go to first-round pick, Isaiah Wilson.
However, Wilson had a litany of off the field issues including more than one violation of Covid protocols and even ending up on the Covid-19 list, as well as a driving under the influence arrest, his rookie season saw him play just three offensive snaps. That for a guy, who was projected to be a lock for the starting right tackle position, after Jack Conklin left for Cleveland in free agency.
Defensive Rookie of the Year – Kristian Fulton
Fulton only played in six games after missing two games on the Covid list and eight more because he was on injured reserve. In his small sample, Fulton showed he could be a solid corner for the Titans. Combining him with a rejuvenated Malcolm Butler, a healthy Adoree Jackson, and Desmond King behind a solid pass rush, the Titans have the making of a solid secondary corp.
Biggest Surprise – Corey Davis
The Titans declined his fifth-year option prior to the season. Rightfully so since Davis hadn’t performed like a top-five draft pick. But that proved to be the chip he needed on his shoulder to ball out. Davis finished the season just 16 yards short of his first 1,000-yard season. He tied a career-high with 65 catches and proved a threat opposite of Brown. But Davis’ stat line may have raised his asking price to the point where the Titans will not be able to bring him back next season.
Biggest Disappointment – Kevin Byard
The stud on the defense since his second season in 2017 was their All-Pro safety. This season he just managed to grab one interception. All season he lacked the intensity that made him a premier safety in the league.
One Burning Question
What will Both Sides of the Ball Look Like?
With offensive coordinator Arthur Smith leaving to become the head coach of the Atlanta Falcons, the Titans offense will have to learn a new system. For an offense that has been among the better units in football, that may create an adverse effect for the team. A team that will likely be looking to bring in a number two receiver. Meanwhile, the defensive experiment of no coordinator proved to be a costly one. With so very big holes to fill on that side of the ball, a proven coordinator could be more imperative than adding players. Only time will tell how the team will address these issues, as they begin to get ready for the 2021 season.
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