Ryan Tannehill And The Titans Offense Are Going To Regress In 2021
Ryan Tannehill is entering his third season with the Tennessee Titans, but after losing two of their best skill players and whiffing on Arthur Smith’s replacement, Tannehill and this TItans’ offense are going to take a step back in 2021.
Todd Downing Is A Bad Hire
Arthur Smith proved his worth as an elite offensive coordinator and he deserves a lot of credit for Tannehill’s development. Losing Smith to the Falcons was inevitable given Smith’s dynamic abilities as an offensive play-caller, but the Titans made a huge mistake when they were choosing Smith’s replacement.
The Titans promoted Todd Downing from Tights Ends Coach to Offensive Coordinator. Downing does have some prior experience as an OC, as he worked as the Raiders’ play-caller in 2017, but he was fired after one year and the offense regressed badly during his tenure. How will Downing react when the Titans are down big and his playcalling is the only way for them to get back into a game?
Can Derrick Henry Continue To Dominate?
Let me first just say that I love me some Derrick Henry, but every running back has a life cycle and can fall off a cliff in the blink of an eye. Take Todd Gurley for instance: In 2018 he was one of the best running back in the league, but fast forward to 2021 and he is a free agent and does not look like he will be under contract anytime soon. Unlike Gurley, Henry has not sustained a major injury, but he has been worn down like no other RB in the NFL. In the past two years, Henry has had 681 rushing attempts. The next closest is Dalvin Cook with 562.
Henry is coming off a career year in which he had 378 carries for over 2,000 yards. He is a true workhorse running back, but if he goes down with an injury in 2021, this team will find that it is unable to replace anything more than a fraction of Henry’s production.
Offensive Line Woes
Tennessee’s offensive line is not bad by any means. Taylor Lewan is a great left tackle and Roger Saffold and Ben Jones are dependable interior linemen but their right tackle remains a question mark. They whiffed on Isaiah Wilson and Dennis Kelly is no longer on the Titans. PFF graded the Titans as the sixth-best when it came to run blocking but they ranked 25th in pass blocking.
The WR and TE Core Got Worse
Yes, the Titans traded for Julio Jones, but they also lost Jonnu Smith and Corey Davis. Smith had a career year in 2020 with 41 receptions, 481 yards, and eight touchdowns. He is a versatile tight end who has turned into a solid red zone threat. Davis also had a great 2020 season that amounted to 65 catches, 984 yards, and five touchdowns.
AJ Brown has become the only reliable and super productive receiver on this team. While I think Julio has some gas left in the tank, he is coming off an injury and is 31 years old. They added Josh Reynolds and have a tight end they like in Anthony Firkser, but those two are not Smith and Davis.
The one thing working for Ryan Tannehill and the Titans is that they play in one of the worst divisions in football. With the Carson Wentz injury taking the Colts quarterback out for a majority of the season, the Titans may be able to stay afloat in the division. Despite two years of playoff appearances, the AFC has never been better and the Titans have their work cut out for them in 2021.
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