My Biggest Concerns For the 2021 Titans

Take a look at the Titans Offense and this upcoming season looks very promising. Coming off a strong 11-5 season which broke the teams 4 year record of 9-7, the Titans still have some concerning flaws.



1. The Secondary


Prior to the opening of 2020 Free Agency, the Titans released CB Malcom Butler, CB Adoree Jackson, and S Kenny Vaccaro. They were replaced by the Titans first round pick, Caleb Farley, who brings elite talent to the Titans but also potentially serious injury problems. The other notable addition was Janoris Jenkins, a very consistent veteran Corner who ranks as Pro Football Focus' 27th best outside corner.


Farley, who sat out of the 2020 NCAA season due to Covid concerns, is an unknown due to his back injury. If Farley plays to his full ability, the Titans secondary could be in a very good spot, but if the injury, which caused multiple teams to pass on him, ends up becoming a factor, late-round picks and undrafted free agents will be forced to step up.


In 2020, the Titans had an average secondary in large part due to the lack of pass rush. Pass rush was addressed just enough with the signing of LB Bud Dupree and DT Denico Autry as well as the development of Harold Landry III, Jeffrey Simmons, Teair Tart, and more. Regardless, my confidence about the defense as a whole is not very high.



2. Lack of Depth on the Offensive Line


One of the most shocking releases of the offseason was RT Dennis Kelly. Kelly served as a swiss army knife, filling in across the offensive line wherever was needed and ended up starting 16 games for Tennessee in 2020 and playing quite well. After the Titans 2020 first round pick, Isaiah Wilson, worked out less than ideally, the Titans depth worsened further.


Now, the current starting Right Tackle is 2021 2nd round pick, Dillion Radunz. While Nate Davis, the Titans' 2019 3rd round pick, has worked out fantastically at Guard, scouts have concern over Radunz's speed and pass blocking, something Tennessee was not great at in 2020.


I feel very good about Taylor Lewan, Roger Saffold III, Ben Jones, and Nate Davis but the players behind them as well as the right tackle gives me concern. The Titans Pass Block Win Rate came in at 53% in 2020 which ranks 24th in the NFL. The Titans offense as a whole could be much better than it was in 2020 because of the acquisition of Julio Jones and the change could be so significant that the Offensive Line will not be nearly as important.




3. Coaching Concerns


Ever since Dean Pees announced his retirement from the Titans, the team's defense has not been the same. From a top 3 defense in 2018 under Pees to a bottom 10 defense in 2020, there was clear decline having many of the same players.


Todd Downing, who served as playcaller for much of last season, will have the final call on defensive plays this season and will have the title of Defensive Coordinator, though it is likely that Vrabel will be actively involved in the process. Despite a poor 2020 season defensively, the team will have a similar playcalling structure in 2021. My biggest fear is that Vrabel takes control of the operation and then refuses to change when things don't work like he has done in the past. I covered the topic of the Titans playcalling and Vrabel's overconfidence in depth here.


In 2020, the Titans had such a good offense that their Offensive Coordinator, Arthur Smith, was hired by the Falcons to be their Head Coach. The Titans promoted Todd Downing, who served as Tight Ends coach in 2020, to Offensive Coordinator. Downing spent 3 seasons with the Raiders as the QB coach and Offensive Coordinator before spending 2019 as the Vikings Tight Ends coach and 2020 with Tennessee. Under Downing, the Raiders ranked as the 18th team in total offense and finished the 2017 season with the 6th worst rushing game in the league. Luckily for Downing, he has much more talent in Tennessee and has many weapons to experiment with but he has not had amazing success in the past.


Despite these concerns, 2021 is still shaping up to be a good season for Tennessee. I feel like 10-7 is a fair record though I will officially publish my predictions closer to the beginning of the season (preseason starts in just 24 days!).


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