Tennessee Titans 2019 Season Preview

Russell S. Baxter

Tennessee Titans 2019 Season Preview

By Geoff Magliocchetti

Special to Pro Football Guru

Nashville hosted a big NFL party last April for the most recent edition of the draft. The locals certainly hope it won’t be too long before they can host another. The Tennessee Titans have earned three consecutive winning seasons for the first time since their Houston Oilers’ incarnation (1991-93). However, only of those matching 9-7 seasons have ended with a playoff appearance (2017). Situated in a wide open AFC South and at a potential crossroads at quarterback, conquering the nine-win beast is more crucial than ever.

Offense: Marcus Mariota has been passable as an NFL starter, but hasn’t come close to fulfilling his first-round potential. Last season saw him establish new career-lows in almost every major passing category. Will the addition of former Miami Dolphins’ starter Ryan Tannehill via an offseason trade light a vital fire? Wide receiver Corey Davis and veteran tight end Delanie Walker remain the quarterbacks’ top targets, while former Buccaneers’ wideout Adam Humphries and rookie A.J. Brown (2-Mississippi) join the fray. Struggles from the passing game allowed the ground attack to take over. Derrick Henry and Dion Lewis united for 1,576 yards. A majority of that tally (1,059) came from Henry and his new career-bests includes 12 touchdowns as well). Potential for more production comes from a free-agent addition on the offensive line. Super Bowl LIII participant Rodger Saffold joins outside headliners Taylor Lewan (suspended for the first 4 games) and Jack Conklin.

Defense: Tennessee allowed just 18.9 points per game last season, good for third in the league. This despite the fact that the Titans forced only 17 turnovers in ’18, one of the lower totals in the NFL. If Dean Pees’ unit can become a little more opportunistic, it could lead to a postseason appearance. It’s great to see Kevin Byard rank among the league leaders in interceptions, but other veterans (Malcolm Butler, Logan Ryan) need to start assisting. Newcomer Cameron Wake can serve as a veteran leader alongside Wesley Woodyard in the linebacking corps. The team upped its interior game via first-round pick Jeffery Simmons.

Special Teams: Reliable veteran kicker Ryan Succop is expected to be ready for Week 1 after knee surgery. Two-time Pro Bowl punter Brett Kern will begin a second decade. Adoree Jackson is set to resume double duty in both the secondary and the return game. The Titans ranked first in the league in 2018 in kickoff return average.

Prediction: The AFC South is a place where none of the four competitors would be a surprising champion. Hence Tennessee would be no exception. The talent is there, but the shortcomings arrive in equal bunches to meet it. The Titans’ X-factor, for better or worse, will be the fifth year of their prized passer. If Mariota takes the next step, there’s no telling how high the Titans can fly. Should he falter, there’s enough talent for mediocrity...also known as the new norm in Nashville.

Win-Loss Record: 8-8 (3rd Place, AFC South)

Geoff Magliocchetti (@GeoffMags5490) covers the New York Jets, the New York Liberty and college football for @EliteSportsNY.

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