Tennessee Titans: 2015 Outlook

 
 
 
 
Football > Teams > AFC South > Titans > Outlook

Tennessee Titans

By Shawn Childs, Saturday, June 13, 2015

The Titans finished with their worst record (2-14) since 1983 with Ken Whisenhunt as the head coach. They dropped to 30th in points scored (254) with the 29th-ranked offense in total yards gained (303.7 YPG). Their defense wasn't much better as they fell to 29th in points allowed (438) and 27th in yards allowed (373 YPG). Tennessee has been outscored by 344 points over the last three years. Whisenhunt is 47-65 in his coaching career with two playoff appearances. Jason Michael will run the offense for the second straight year. He's been a coach for 10 seasons with this being his first run as the offensive coordinator. Ray Horton gets his second run as the Titans' defensive coordinator. He's held the same position for three different teams over the last fours. The Titans haven't made the playoffs in six years. Their future depends on the right arm of franchise QB Marcus Mariota.

Free Agency

Tennessee's best additions this offseason came on the defensive side of the ball – S Da'Norris Searcy, LB Brian Orakpo, CB Perrish Cox, and LB Jonathan Massaquoi. Searcy offered a steady presence at safety last year for the Bills. He added value in run support with neutral success in passing coverage. Da'Norris missed most of December with a hamstring injury. Cox graded only league average across the board in 2014 as a starter. Orakpo will upgrade the pass rush with a nice bump stopping the run. Brian was selected in the first round in 2009. Massaquoi will add depth to the position.

OT Michael Oher left to sign with Carolina. He was a huge liability in both run and pass blocking. He was replaced by OT Byron Bell was coincidentally played with the Panthers in 2014. Bell allowed 11 sacks, six QB hits, and 43 QB hurries while playing left tackle last year.

WR Hakeem Nicks and WR Harry Douglas were added to the receiving corps. Nick has been a bust in back-to-back to years while Douglas has shown upside over the last two years as a part-time replacement for WR Julio Jones and WR Roddy White.

Draft

The Titans pounced on QB Marcus Mariota with their second pick overall in this year's draft. Mariota lit up the 2015 NFL combine like a Christmas tree. He flashed his elite speed and quickness while showcasing plus athletic ability. Marcus will have an edge in the run game at the next level, but he needs to prove he can read defenses while throwing in a much tighter window. Mariota shows the ability to look off the safety with a solid arm to make all the throws.

In the second round, Tennessee tried to add a plus weapon in WR Dorial Green-Beckham. He has immense size (6'5´and 237 lbs.) with exceptional speed (4.49 forty at the NFL combine), but he lacks strength. Dorial has a troubled past with questionable motivation and technique. DGB is a project with high upside.

G Jeremiah Poutasi showed growth in his senior season at Utah where he played left tackle. He is projected to play at guard with limited upside in run-blocking. The change in position will help stabilize his pass-blocking.

With their two picks in the fourth round, Tennessee selected DT Angelo Blackson and FB Jalston Fowler. Blackson will turn into a rotational run clogger at the next level with no real value when attacking the QB. Fowler is a converted RB who will need to improve his blocking ability to earn playing time.

RB David Cobb was drafted in the fifth. Cobb is a power runner with plus value breaking tackles. His lack of speed and quickness limits his upside in playing time with the Titans.

Tennessee added LB Deiontrez Mount, C Andy Gallik, and WR Tre McBride with their last three picks. Mount plays with strength and enough speed to have value to attack the QB, but his skill set is in between positions. He looks like a situational player. Gallik has upside as a quick hitting run blocker, but he has a short window in pass-blocking. McBride has 4.4 speed with very good quickness, but he struggled with his release and gaining separation out of his breaks. His speed and hands will create a reasonable opportunity.



Tennessee Titans WR Dorial Green-Beckham

Offensive Line

Tennessee only gained 4.1 yards per rush in 2014 with just six rushing TDs. They finished 26th in rushing yards (1447) with only 22.1 rushing attempts per game.

Taylor Lewan is expected to start at left tackle after being selected in the first round in the 2014 NFL draft. In his six starts last year, Taylor allowed four sacks while only being a league average player. His season ended in December with an ankle injury.

LG Andy Levitre has graded highly in both run and pass blocking over the last three games, but never both in the same season. Last year he allowed six sacks with neutral value in run blocking.

C Brian Schwenke will compete with rookie C Andy Gallik for the starting job. Schwenke has been unimpressive in his 20 career starts over the last two years after being selected in the fourth round in 2014. Last year Brian allowed one sack, seven QB hits, and 10 QB hurries in 11 games with below average value in the run game.

RG Chance Warmack played well over the last seven games in 2014 with positive value in each game. He only allowed two sacks on the year with upside value in run blocking. Chance was drafted in the first round in 2013.

RT Byron Bell was overmatched at left tackle in 2014 and his value was much better at right tackle in 2013 (10 sacks, six QB hits, and 34 QB hurries). The Titans best option at this position may be rookie Jeremiah Poutasi.

The Titans allowed 50 sacks last year with the 22nd-ranked passing game (3,412 yards), which led to 20 passing TDs and 16 INTs.

This line has two elite upside players and one player that will add value to the line. They have two questions marks with one being repairable if their third draft pick Poutasi is ready to make a run at the starting job.

Offense

Game score was big part of Tennessee only running the ball 41.1 percent of the time. They completed the exact same total of passes (74) to RBs and TEs. WRs caught only 150 passes for 2,168 yards and 12 TDs.

Schedule: Offense

Tennessee really only has one tough matchup in the run game – New York Jets. They have four games against weak run defenses – CLE, NO, and JAX (X 2). Their toughest matchups against the pass are: CLE, BUF, and MIA. The Titans have three favorable games against the pass – TB, ATL, and NO.

In his three years with Oregon, Mariota passed for 10,796 yards with 105 TDs and 14 INTs while completing 66.8 percent of his passes. In each season, Marcus ran for 700-plus yards (337 carries & 2,237 rushing yards in his career) with 29 rushing TDs. He has excellent size (6'4' and 222 lbs.) with great speed and quickness. His skill set has high upside, but he needs to prove he can read defenses and throw in a tighter window. Mariota did a great job limiting his mistakes, but he'll face more pressure at the next level. Last year the Titans threw for 3,412 yards with 20 passing TDs and 16 INTs. Overall, Marcus won't have elite options in this passing game early in his career. His legs will create big play opportunities downfield, plus give him steady value in the fantasy market. I expected him to start from day one and he has all the tools to be an elite QB. The transition from shotgun to behind center will change his pre-snap looks with some adjustments in his timing on his drops. Mariota will rank highly in rushing yards with value in rushing TDs. He will pass for 3,500-plus yards with 600-plus rushing yards and 25 combined TDs, which makes him a candidate to finish among the Top 12 QBs.


Tennessee Titans QB Marcus Mariota

Mettenberger looks like an old-style pro QB. Zach is pure pocket passer with no mobility. He has an excellent arm and he could develop into a very good game manager with the right skill players around him. Mettenberger threw for 5,783 yards as a two-year starter for LSU with 35 TDs and 15 INTs. He has showed the ability to read defenses in college and he has the talent to make all the NFL throws. Zach has the skill-set to run a timing offense. He has upside as a passer, but his value will probably never be higher than Matt Schaub, for example, as his peak. His lack of quickness could really hurt if he was asked to lead a weak offense. In his six games as a starter, Mettenberger passed for 1,395 yards with eight TDs and seven INTs. He has an INT in each game in his career with one 300-yard passing game. Zach has never thrown over two TDs in game. The addition of Mariota pushed him into a backup role in 2015.

Cobb is going to be the hammer in the Titans' offense in the near future. He is a north-south runner with some wiggle when he gets in the open field. His speed is well below the NFL average with no real quickness. His ability to break tackles is the key to him earning playing time in 2015. His fresh legs should allow him to pass RB Shonn Greene on the depth chart pretty quickly. In his two seasons as a starter at Minnesota, Cobb rushed for 2,828 yards on 541 carries with 20 rushing TDs. He also caught 33 passes for 336 yards, which may lead to better value than expected in the passing game. I expected him to get a high volume of carries and it wouldn't surprise me to see him work his way into 15 touches a game while leading the team in rushing TDs. As the season progresses, Cobb will have value as a bye week cover or possibly a short-term injury cover.

There was lot to like with Sankey coming out of college. He has NFL RB average speed (4.49 40-yard dash) with exceptional quickness (4.00 20-yard shuttle and 6.75 three cone drill). His size isn't elite (5'9" and 209 lbs.), but he was one of the stronger backs in college (26 bench press reps at the 2014 NFL Combine). Bishop was a two-year starter at Washington where he rushed for 3,308 yards on 616 carries with 36 rushing TDs. Sankey was a solid option in the passing game (61 catches for 553 yards and 1 TD). He runs with power and he threatens the second level of the defense with his ability to change direction on cutback runs. His pass-catching ability and feel for the goal line give him a chance to be a three-down back, but he needs to prove he can protect the QB in the pass protection. Washington ran a pro-style offense which helps Bishop's learning curve. His success in college turned into a failed opportunity with the Titans. Sankey had 170 touches in his rookie season with nine starts, but he only averaged 4.1 yards per touch with two TDs. Last year Tennessee finished 29th in rushing attempts (22.2 per game). This year Sankey has a lot to prove. Ideally, the Titans would like to find a balance between Sankey's skill-set and a power runner. Bishop has as much risk as upside this year. He failed as a pass blocker in his rookie season, which hurt his ability to see consistent playing time. Tennessee has talent on the offensive line and the presence of a running QB who can create more space to make plays. His talent should lead to at least 200 touches for about 900 yards. His TDs will be limited with the power RB David Cobb on the roster. Sankey is nothing more than a RB3 or flex headed into the draft season with possible upside.


Tennessee Titans RB Bishop Sankey

After his breakthrough season in 2013 (94/1,079/2), Wright struggled to make an impact last year due a poor play by the Titans' offense and a hand injury that cost him a couple of games. Kendall only had one 100-yard receiving game and one game with more than nine targets. Wright is a solid possession receiver with 100-catch upside with a more dynamic offense. He flashed consistency in 2013 when he caught five catches or more in 12 of 16 games. The QB upgrade should increase his value again this year, but I'd think of him as an 80-catch guy for 900-plus yards with a handful of TDs. He has an upside WR3 skill set in 2015.

In his freshman and sophomore seasons at Missouri, Dorial caught 87 passes for 1,278 yards with six TDs. He has immense size (6'5" and 237 lbs.) with plus speed (4.49 forty at the 2015 NFL combine). Surprisingly, he lacks strength with weak route-running skills. Green-Beckham also has some character issues, which led to him missing last year. Dorial has upside when he develops his technique, but 2015 will be a learning experience.

For fantasy owners, Nicks is just about DOA at age 27. Last year, he was expected to have an upside opportunity with the Colts, but he only managed 38 catches for 405 yards with four TDs in 68 targets. Over the last three years, Hakeem has only caught 54.6 percent of his chances. He flashed WR1 upside in back-to-back years with the Giants in 2010 and 2011 when he caught a total of 155 passes for 2,244 yards with 18 TDs on 261 targets. His skill set is the most advanced on the team behind Wright. I'd love to say bet on the come with Nicks, but he's just about broke me over the last two seasons. Tennessee only signed him to a one year deal, which is enough motivation to get his game in line. His asking price on draft will be free and his supporters will be minimal. The reward clearly outweighs the risk. His starting point should be 50 catches for 600 yards with some value in TDs.

Hunter only made a small step forward in 2014 when he caught 28 passes for 498 yards with three TDs on 67 targets. He's only caught 42.2 percent of targets in his career. Last year Justin didn't have one game with more than four catches, but he did have two 10-target games. In his rookie season, Hunter flashed his big-play ability in two games (6/109/1 and 4/114/1). With the additions on the roster, Hunter will be no more than a deep threat on the outside. His game may work well with the scrambling Mariota. Justin has talent with upside, but he doesn't look ready to make a 2015 Fantasy impact.


Tennessee Titans WRs Kendall Wright & Justin Hunter

Over the last two years, Douglas has emerged as a viable WR option when given a starting opportunity. In 2014, he had two impact games (9-116 and 10-131). His highlight season was 2013 when he caught 85 balls for 1,067 yards with two TDs on 132 targets. This season he will compete with Nicks for the starting job. His resume of success over the last two years gives him a boxer's chance of getting starting stats. Harry has low value in TDs and he'll turn 31 in mid-September. I don't see him as starting piece of a winning fantasy team on draft day, but he will have value as a bench option.

Walker has really blossomed into a top-12 TE option over the last two years with the Titans after escaping the shadow of TE Vernon Davis. Last year, he set career highs in catches (63), yards (890), and targets (106). He finished as the No. 1 passing option for Tennessee. Delanie had two games with over 100 yards receiving and three games with 10 targets or more. Over his last 11 games, Walker only had one TD. This year Delanie will drop to the No. 2 or possibly No. 3 receiving option if WR Hakeem Nicks reemerges. The key for him to hold value will be the development of the QB position, which ultimately may lead to growth in TDs. His success last year was due to his ability to make big plays in the passing game (12 catches of 20 yards or more and two of 40 yards or more). I expected a solid 60 catch for 600 yard season with a handful of TDs, which makes him a borderline top-12 TE in PPR leagues.


Tennessee Titans TE Delanie Walker

The Titans decided Succop was the best kicking options for the team just for before the start of the 2014 season. Ryan had his best success making field goals (86.4 percent), but he only had 22 chances to due poor play by the offense. In his career, Succop has made 11 of 19 kicks from 50 yards or more. Over the last four years, the offenses he's played for have only scored 20, 17, 52, and 27 TDs. In his six seasons, Succop has 81.7 percent of his field goal chances. He has a solid leg with upside with the right opportunity, but he is a tough start from week-to-week in season long games.


Tennessee Titans K Ryan Succop