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.