After entering week 16 last season in a prime position to make the playoffs for the first time since 2008, star quarterback Marcus Mariota went down with a season ending fibula injury against the Jacksonville Jaguars. After losing the game to the Jaguars as well as losing any chance of making the playoffs the Titans and Titan fans entered the offseason optimistically.
Beginning in free agency the Titans resigned valuable backups Karl Klug, Matt Cassel, Phillip Supernaw, and Nate Palmer while they let go of veterans Al Woods and Jason McCourty. After resigning and releasing their own players the Titans moved on to signing free agents to fill key roles this season. Acquisitions such as veterans Logan Ryan and Jonathan Cyprien will immediately improve the Titan’s secondary which was one of the worst in the league last year in total passing yards and total completions allowed. Ryan was one of the top corners on the Super Bowl winning New England Patriots, and Cyprien accumulated 100 tackles in all four of his first seasons with division rival Jacksonville Jaguars. Along with improving the secondary the Titans added special teams depth through LB Daren Bates, S Brynden Trawick, and return man Eric Weems. After taking care of special teams and the secondary the Titans strengthened the already elite offensive line with former Brown’s G, Tim Lelito. To end the free agency period the Titans filled the hole they created by cutting Al Woods with former Broncos DT and 1st round pick in 2013, Sylvester Williams.
After an active free agency that resulted in a much improved team, the Titans entered the NFL draft with two 1st round picks. With the Titans two primary needs being WR and CB, DBs such as Jamal Adams, Marshon Lattimore, and Malik Hooker looked to be likely picks at pick number 5 overall and WRs Mike Williams, Corey Davis, and John Ross at WR looked to be likely picks at number 18 overall. With the first of the two first round picks the Titans surprised everyone by taking WR Corey Davis from Western Michigan. While he was one of the top WR prospects in the draft many draft analysts felt he would fall to around picks 10-20. As time went on though the pick proved to be worthwhile because both of the other two WR prospects, Mike Williams and John Ross, were also picked in the top ten. If the Titans had not jumped on Davis so early he may have never fallen to them at the 18th pick. After taking care of the WR need, the Titans moved onto their DB need, and with 18th overall pick they selected Southern California CB Adoree Jackson. Jackson was the third of six corners taken in the first round. Along with his elite speed and hands, Jackson also adds value to the Titans as a kick returner. After a successful first round the Titans did not draft again until the third round where they took advantage of their picks with a speedy WR from Western Kentucky, Taywan Taylor who has looked excellent in training camp so far, and with Florida International TE Jonnu Smith who will be Pro Bowler Delanie Walker’s backup. The NFL draft finally concluded with the Titans filling needs at LB with small but fast MLB Jaylon Smith from UCLA and Texas Christian OLB/pass rusher Josh Carraway. Then the Titans took 5’6” HB from California Khalfani Muhammad who will be a valuable pass catcher out out of the backfield on third downs. The Titans finally ended the draft with two OL Brad Seaton from Chattanooga and Corey Levin from Villanova. With additions in key needs and added depth at other positions the Titans appeared to be a top tier team in the league for the upcoming year.
All of training camp rookies and veterans have both been fighting for one of the 53 roster spots. Looking forward to the season the Titans have one of the easier schedules in the league based on their division being the weakest in the NFL, and the fact that the Titan’s division has been matched up with the weakest NFC division, the NFC West, for their four NFC games. Right now the Titans appear to be the favorites for the division after a busy offseason and their schedule compared to the reigning division champs, the Houston Texans. Because the Texans won the division last year they are matched up with in games against other division winners such as the Chiefs and reigning Super Bowl champions, the Patriots. While the Texans play tougher teams the Titans will play a similar team in the Raiders and the Miami Dolphins who lack their QB Ryan Tannehill. Because of the Titans schedule, improved secondary, and added weapons around franchise quarterback, Marcus Mariota, the Titans will likely finish as one of the top teams in the AFC and win the division. This year anything less than a playoff appearance will be seen as a failure for all Titan fans this year.