Why Is The NFL Media In Love With The Titans?

Written By: Conner Pack

Last Monday, USA Today released their team win predictions for the 2017 NFL season, I wrote a quick piece last week giving my thoughts on what I saw. I touched on several teams one being the Titans, but in that piece I talked about whether or not the Titans could go 12-4. Since the win predictions came out, local radio here in Nashville has talked quite a bit about if it is possible or not. They’ve also been talking about why the Titans have been getting so much love from the media. So in this piece I want to give my thoughts on why the media is on board with the Titans.

As many people saw, USA Today had the Tennessee Titans going 12-4 and winning the AFC South. Now the Titans are just one season removed from being the worst team in the NFL, but since about early spring the Tennessee Titans have become the new darlings of the sports/NFL media. After finishing last season with a surprising 9-7 record and putting together another solid off-season, the sports/NFL media have began to take note.

– How The Titans Got To Where They Are

Over the course of last season, the Titans showed improvements each week. Starting with the offensive line, lead by Taylor Lewan, Ben Jones, and Jack Conklin. Week in a week out the offensive line provided great protection for Mariota and created running lanes for Murray and Henry. It was the first time in a very long time that the Titans have had a strong offensive line. Having a good offensive line then led to a great running game. Demarco Murray and Derrick Henry both had tremendous success running the ball last season. Demarco Murray finished the season with 4.4 yards per attempt and Derrick Henry finished with 4.5 yards per attempt. Finally, by having both a good offensive line and a solid rushing attack, quarterback Marcus Mariota went on to have a very successful season. Mariota, finished the season passing for 3,426 yards, 26 touchdowns to 9 interceptions, and a quarterback rating of 95.6. All of these factors helped the Titans offense finish eleventh in the league last season. However, the defense was another story.

After what was a successful season in 2016, the Titans and general manager Jon Robinson got right back to work by putting together a solid draft and making a couple big time free agent signings. During free agency the Titans addressed the secondary by signing corner back Logan Ryan and safety Johnathan Cyprien. Last season the Titans secondary was atrocious, I’ll leave it at that. By adding those two guys the secondary should be somewhat improved. During the draft the Titans addressed their other major need… wide receiver. The Titans would draft two wide receivers in the first three rounds, first by taking Corey Davis (Western Michigan) fifth overall. Then in round three, they took Taywan Taylor (Western Kentucky).

Oh, and lets not forget about the Eric Decker signing back in June. Adding Decker, Davis, and Taylor gives some experience and hopefully gives the offense some big play capability.

– Why The NFL Media Is So High On The Titans

All of that leads me to this, the Titans have the intangibles to win. They have the quarterback, they have two dynamic running backs, they have an elite offensive line, they have capable wide receivers, and they have a defense that has the potential to be very good this season. By having all these intangibles in place, by playing in a weak division, and by having a semi friendly schedule is why the Titans are getting so much love. Now they still have to go out and prove it on the field but, because of what the Titans did last year as far as winning nine games and their off-season acquisitions why shouldn’t the media be all in on them?

– Final Thoughts

Overall, the Titans in my opinion are in the best position in the AFC South heading into the 2017 season. If they can take care of business in the division I think it’s quite possible for this team to be as good as the media is hyping them up to be. In Indianapolis we don’t know the health of Andrew Luck, in Houston they named Tom Savage the starter but it’s only a matter of time before rookie Deshaun Watson steps in, and we never know what team will show up in Jacksonville. Now you could question whether or not Marcus Mariota will be able to stay healthy all sixteen games. But that’s really about it.

Finally, growing up a Titans fan it’s hard to buy into the hype. Because for years the Titans have found ways to lose games or put together a great season just to fall apart in the playoffs. For me, I believe in this Titans team. Do I believe they’re a 12-4 team? At the moment I do not. I believe they’re a 9-7 to 11-5 team. Could they make the jump to 12-4? I absolutely believe they could. But realistically I just don’t think they will.

USA Today 2017 NFL Predictions

Written By: Conner Pack

 

After taking a month off and taking a little vacation it’s time to get back to work. For some NFL teams training camps are already under way and for others they’re about to begin. With that being said, yesterday USA Today released their preseason NFL Predictions. Now I know this is just predictions, but it’s still dead season so this gives us sports people something to talk about.

– What Stood Out

Four things that caught my attention were: the Patriots going undefeated, the Titans going 12-4 and winning the AFC South, the Buccaneers going 10-6 and being an NFC wild card team, and the Cowboys going 11-5 and winning NFC East.

– Patriots 16-0?

Coming off their impressive comeback Super Bowl victory, USA Today is predicting the New England Patriots will go 16-0 in 2017. Looking at their schedule, it’s quite possible that could actually happen. Last season the Patriots only lost two games. One of the games was to the Bills and Jacoby Brissett started at quarterback. The second game was an overtime thriller to the Seahawks.

So it’s not all that far-fetched to believe 16-0 won’t happen, they did it before. Not to mention they have the best quarterback; Tom Brady and the best head coach; Bill Belichick. But me personally I don’t think they’ll end up 16-0. I think they’ll slip up and lose a close game maybe to Oakland or Pittsburgh. But come January 1st it wouldn’t be surprise if the Patriots are sitting at 16-0 heading into the playoffs.

– Titans Go 12-4?

Last season the Tennessee Titans took major steps forward finishing 9-7 and barely missing the playoffs. The running back tandem of Murray and Henry played a major role in the efficiency of their offense. By having a solid running game and an elite offensive line Mariota was able to show off his passing abilities. The Titans offense finished eleventh in total offense last season. However their defense was another story, particularly their horrendous secondary.

Now, 12-4 in my opinion is a bit of a stretch. Is it possible? Most definitely. But for the Titans to finish 12-4 and win the AFC South they’ve got to take care of business in their division. For years they’ve split with teams or have been swept by teams within the division, last season the Titans were 2-4 in the division. Losing to the Colts twice and splitting with Texans and Jaguars. To be a contender you’ve got to win in the division. Finally, the Titans have got to beat the Indianapolis Colts. They’re 1-15 over the last eight years. Beating the Colts will tell us if this team is for real or not.

– Buccaneers Making the Playoffs

It’s been quite awhile since the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been a playoff team. With Jameis Winston entering his third season, the Buccaneers are in a great position to contend for a possible playoff position. Adding DeSean Jackson an experienced speedy receiver with rising star Mike Evans is huge. Two very dynamic play makers Winston has at his disposal. Not to mention they draft Alabama tight end OJ Howard. Another big target who can streak down the middle of the field.

 

My biggest concerns with this Buccaneers team is defense and running back. They’ve had their defensive struggles for a couple of years now. And with Doug Martin not all the way checked in they really don’t have a proven running back. But I do think they’ll have enough to be in the playoffs this season. Their division could be wide open depending on if the Falcons have a Super Bowl hangover.

– Dallas Cowboys 11-5 and Win NFC East

The rookie duo of running back Ezekiel Elliot and quarterback Dak Prescott took the league by storm last season. Elliot led the league in rushing as a rookie and Prescott was one of the top quarterbacks in the league last season. However, all of that was “last season”. I’m not taking anything away from their success because what they did was very impressive.

 

That leads me to this, I don’t think the Cowboys will have the same success they had last year. Yes, I do still think they should be the favorite to win the NFC East. But I think it’s going to be a dog fight amongst all of the NFC East teams, especially the Giants and Eagles. Something else to factor in is the sophomore slump. Dak and Zeke were awesome last year, it’s going to be hard to repeat the same success. Now that teams have seen them play and there’s film on them teams can game plan a lot better for them now.

Finally, this offseason has not been all that great for the Cowboys, there have been several incidence where players have been arrested or caught up in negative situations. With a lot of it surrounding Ezekiel Elliot. We still don’t know how many games he’ll be suspended if he even gets a suspension. That’s another factor to add to why the Cowboys won’t be as successful.

Eric Decker to the Titans 

Written By: Conner Pack

Over the weekend, the Titans made yet again another solid offseason acquisition by signing veteran wide receiver Eric Decker. Over the course of Deckers career, he’s proved to be a very reliable and accountable team player. Despite some injury setbacks, Decker has been a major part of each of the offenses he has played in. Decker, started his career as a Denver Bronco and after a couple very successful seasons with Peyton Manning, he would leave and signed with the New York Jets. After three seasons the Jets cut Decker last week. 

With that being said, joining the Titans is great for him as well as for the Titans. It’s great for Decker, because he gets to revamp his NFL career, with what should be a good Titans team. It’s great for the Titans, because he brings veteran leadership, depth, and competition to a young wide receiver corp. Something the Titans haven’t had for sometime now. 

– Final Thoughts 

For several years, the Titans have lacked star power and consistency at the wide receiver position. During the last two off-seasons they have finally really began addressing the issue. Last season, signing Rashard Mathews and drafting Taje Sharpe. Then this year by drafting Corey Davis and Taywan Taylor. 

Now the jury is still out on Sharpe, Davis, and Taylor. But all three look to have promising NFL careers. 

With this signing I believe the Titans are looking to be a more explosive offensive team. Last season was the exotic smash mouth. This season, I think they will open up the passing game and allow Mariota to let it fly. 

Finally, before the signing of Decker I thought the Titans were in the best position to win the AFC south heading into this season, barring injury. Adding Decker, in my opinion has sealed the deal for me. As long as Mariota can stay healthy and the young guys play like we think they will, the Titans should win the AFC south.