This past Sunday the Tennesee Titans lost 35-24 in the AFC Championship game to the explosive Kansas City Chiefs. But early on, the Titans possessed a 10-0 lead early in the first frame.
Then in the second quarter, Tennessee methodically drove down the field and went on a 15 play drive and chewed up 9 minutes of clock. Derrick Henry proceeded to score on the drive and gave the Titans a 17-7 lead late in the second with 6:28 left in the quarter.
It seemed like the Titans game plan was working, but the Chiefs woke up from their first quarter nap and scored 14 points to end the first half. After that, it was all Chiefs. Kansas City went on to outscore the Titans 28-7.
All in all, the Tennessee Titans had one hell of a year. From finding potentially their new franchise quarterback in Ryan Tannehill, to ending the Patriots dominance, to shocking the world against the Baltimore Ravens.
But the question now is, can the Titans sustain their new found success heading into next year? Well, lets dive in and go over the Titans off-season questions that must be answered.
Key Free Agents
- Ryan Tannehill – If it was not for Ryan Tannehill the Titans might have not made it to the playoffs. After the Miami Dolphins traded Tannehill to the Titans it only took 6 games for him to become the new starting quarterback. With that being said, he finished out the regular season (7-3) as the starting QB. He also finished the season with the best passer rating of 117.5. And to put a cherry on top, he had the Titans within 12 points of a berth in the Super Bowl. So, it is pretty clear that Ryan Tannehill deserves to get a nice contract this summer. And if the Titans want to build on their success, the organization will need to re-sign Tannehill right away. I say right away because, there will be many more potential suiters that are willing to back up the brinks truck. Such as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Los Angeles Chargers and the Indianapolis Colts. There is no certainty that Ryan Tannehill will want to re-sign with Titans, but it would be smart for Tennessee to do anything and everything in their power to keep Tannehill as their new franchise quarterback.
- Logan Ryan – The ex Patriot is coming up on free-agency once again. After playing four seasons with the New England Patriots, he signed a three year deal with the Titans. And the three years are now up. What’s next in Logan’s future? Will he return to the Titans? He played an intricate part of the Titans defense when it came to being the leader. He has that championship pedigree that is a must for any defense in the league, which he brought for the past three seasons. But as far as his leadership goes, he also strung along three solid seasons. In his three seasons with the Titans he recorded 251 tackles, four interceptions, five forced fumbles, 8.5 sacks and 37 pass breakups. Logan Ryan would be a great hold over for next season, but in the end it is all up to him whether he wants to continue to build something special in Tennessee or if he wants something new.
- Derrick Henry – King Henry had a historic post season being the only player in NFL history to rush for over 175 yards in two post season games. He was literally unstoppable! Henry, also was named the rushing champ. He rushed for 1,540 yards on 303 attempts and added 16 touchdowns. So, there is no question that Derrick Henry will be the most coveted free-agent this summer. But the big question is, will the Titans throw the big contract that he deserves? Henry has certainly shown the NFL that you can win games sticking to the run and being successful. And with Derrick Henry in the backfield, that surely will keep being the case. It’s going to be interesting for the Titans though, because the organization will need to franchise tag either Henry or Tannehill. But that’s a great dilemma to be in if you ask me. It would shock me if Derrick Henry is not re-signed because the Titans are now predicated to the run. Tennessee must re-sign him if the organization wants to contend for titles, if not you can kiss many great seasons ahead good bye, because Derrick Henry is an organizational difference maker.
The long-time Patriot has definitely made an impact on the Tennessee Titans during his first two season as head coach. After starting out the season (2-4), Mike Vrabel and his coaching staff decided that Marcus Mariota was not the answer. So, they called on 8-year vet Ryan Tannehill to take over the offense. And the rest is history.
Now can Mike Vrabel keep the ship going in the right direction? Well, the Titans will have to address their free agency needs. Such as, retaining both Ryan Tannehill and Derrick Henry.
They also need some help when it comes to the pass rush and it wouldn’t hurt to add another playmaker. But whoever is on the Mike Vrabel’s roster will surely be willing to follow behind the man who led his team to the AFC championship game.
It is pretty clear that Mike Vrabel is a players coach and that goes along way in terms of creating a winning culture in Tennessee. He also has that championship pedigree, which he inherited from playing with the New England Patriots for 7 seasons.
Vrabel brings the toughness as well, and you can see that his teams take on his personality, which is to play 100% and to play smash mouth football. This quality about Vrabel will also entice future free agents to want to come to Nashville to not only play for a tough minded coach, but to build on the foundation that Vrabel and his staff have built. So, as long as Mike Vrabel is at the helm of the Titans, the future is most definitely bright.
Can Titans make it back to the AFC Championship game?
First off, if Tennessee re-signs Derrick Henry and Ryan Tannehill, consider the Titans a lock come playoff time. But if the Titans want to contend with the likes of the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers, the offense will have to expand its playbook to win games with different play styles.
For example, the offense only was successful when they led because the run game was effective. But when the Titans fell behind 21-17 against the Chiefs, it forced the offense to get away from the run and made the Titans be uncharacteristic by throwing the ball more then they wanted. Which resulted to the Titans panicking and not knowing what to do.
The solution will have to be addressed this off-season. To me I think that the Titans are one play maker away from being a clear cut contender. If they are to get their offense to be more complex when it comes to the passing game, Tennessee will be dangerous and will be a tough out for any team in the NFL.
In a vacuum, Derrick Henry and Ryan Tannehill will be the keys to the offense. And lets not forget about A.J. Brown, he will be another focal point of the offense come next season.
With all of that being said, Tennessee should make Derrick Henry a better pass catcher this season. You see by adding that component to Derrick Henrys arsenal, the Titans will be unlocked and will be able to win any type of game that is presented to them.
The Titans simply need to just be more versatile if they want to not only reach the AFC Championship game but the Super Bowl.
- Derrick Henry – Henry showed the NFL world that he should be drafted in every first round across America come next season. Early on this past season, Henry got off to a slow start, but after week 7 he nearly was unstoppable. He finished the season with a league high 1,540 rushing yards and chipped in 16 TD,S which is another league high. So there is no question that Derrick Henry should go early in the first round come next season.
- Ryan Tannehill – Despite being the highest rated quarterback in the NFL this year with a rate of 117.5. Tannehill was more of a streamer for the majority of the season. He finished the season with 2,742 yards through the air and 22 touchdowns. He will definitely be a more than capable fantasy quarterback, but do you need to draft him? I think you can find him on the waiver wire once the first week of the season is in the books.
- A.J. Brown – The Rookie standout had a great year! He got off to a slow start, but once Ryan Tannehill was plugged into the starting lineup, Brown was off to the races. He hauled in 52 receptions for 1,051 yards and added 8 touchdowns to end his rookie campaign. So, come next season Brown will be a coveted WR1 and should be drafted within the first 5 rounds.
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