Three reasons to be optimistic about the Tennessee Titans

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In 2021, the Tennessee Titans fought through injuries and earned the AFC’s top seed, but in 2022, injuries decimated their season. After making the playoffs the three previous seasons, the Titans missed the postseason in 2022, but that might be a blessing. Here’s why:

1. The opportunity to self-evaluate

If the Titans had made the playoffs in 2022, it’s unlikely they would be considering all possible avenues for their future this offseason. The front office can now fully assess the team’s issues instead of competing with the same roster for yet another year. 

Tennessee fired Jon Robinson as the team’s GM midseason, replacing him with Ran Carthon, the former director of player personnel for San Francisco. Carthon doesn’t have ties to any players on the roster, which means any player can get cut or traded regardless of the team’s investment in them. 

Carthon may start by removing the apparent cut candidates, including LB Bud Dupree. The offensive line and receiving corps should be the first position groups he strives to improve.  

2. RB Derrick Henry is in for another dominant year

Henry missed nine games in 2021 due to a broken foot and still finished ninth in the NFL in rushing. He wasted no time getting back on track in 2022. The workhorse rushed for 1,538 yards and 13 touchdowns, finishing the season strongly with over 100 yards rushing in each of his final four games.

Henry also became more involved as a receiver, recording a career-high 398 receiving yards — more than in his previous two seasons combined. Perhaps new OC Tim Kelly will expand Henry’s role even more as a receiver in 2023. 

There’s a chance that Henry could return to his league-leading rusher ways with a retooled offensive line. Should he be able to do that, Henry might become the franchise’s all-time leading rusher next season. He needs 1,675 rushing yards to pass Eddie George. 

3. The last season with the current QB situation?

Ryan Tannehill revived his career with the Titans, playing well during the regular season. The playoffs are another story.

The 34-year-old has a $36.6 million cap hit for 2023, so the possibility exists for him to be cut or traded this offseason. However, it may be best to let Tannehill finish out his contract and part ways in 2024.

Tennessee’s other QB options are much worse than Tannehill. 2022 third-round pick Malik Willis delivered on his reputation as a project pick. Filling in for an injured Tannehill, the Liberty product threw for only 276 yards in eight games with no touchdown passes, completing 50.8 percent of his passes. 

The Titans signed journeyman Josh Dobbs in December to prevent a collapse. Despite being unable to save the team’s season, he outperformed Willis. As no QB on the roster seems fit for the long term, Tennessee should already begin to explore the potential options for 2024.

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