The Titans are Built For Success in 2022
Updated: Jul 3, 2022
The Titans are coming off their best regular season since 2008. They earned the #1 in the AFC before a crushing 19-16 loss in the Divisional Round.
While the team is largely the same, the Titans offseason has seen some significant moves, namely at the receiver position.
On April 30th, during the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft, the Titans traded AJ Brown to the Eagles for the 18th overall selection which they used on Arkansas receiver, Treylon Burks.
The trade came as contract talks between Brown and Tennessee stalled and there appeared to be significant disconnect between the parties. Trading such a talented receiver with the potential to be the greatest Titans receiver ever hurts but if the deal was never going to come to fruition, it was better to move on from Brown.
Most hurt by the Brown trade, Ryan Tannehill is already under the microscope heading into 2022. Brown was Tannehill's go-to target over the last 3 seasons, making his value hard to replace.
However, there are reasons for optimism on this front. The Titans acquired multiple skill position players this offseason including Burks through the draft, Robert Woods via trade with the Rams, and TE Austin Hooper through free agency.
Burks can replace Brown's physical presence, is great downfield, and is deceptively quick at 6'2. A cause for concern, however, is his asthma which has knocked him out of multiple practices thus far. Burks has been catching passes in minicamp as of late along with Superbowl-experienced Robert Woods.
Woods, 30, is a versatile player who can do just about anything you would want out of a receiver. He is a good deep threat due to his break way speed but is also elusive enough to make defenders miss if he comes out of the backfield. Last season, Woods suffered a torn ACL in practice just before Week 10 but by Week 1 of 2022, he will be 300 days removed from the injury, making it likely that he will be good to go.
Possibly the most impactful acquisition, Austin Hooper is Tannehill's first reliable Tight End since Jonnu Smith. After success with Matt Ryan in Atlanta, Hooper made minimal impact over his last two seasons with Cleveland but has good hands and is sneakily athletic. With Anthony Firkser and MyCole Pruitt both gone, Hooper will be vital in 2022.
Even more important than any acquisition, the league's best running back will make his long awaited return to the Titans backfield. While he played in the playoff loss against the Bengals, Derrick Henry made minimal impact and now, appears to be approaching 100%.
The importance of Derrick Henry to the Titans cannot be overstated. With Henry on the field, Tannehill averages .5 less turnovers, 60 more passing yards, a QBR 23.5 higher, and is sacked .8 less times per game. When Derrick Henry rushes for over 100 yards, the Titans have lost just 3 games in the last 4 seasons.
Defensively, the Titans have talent across the board and are capable of being one of the best defenses in the NFL. Third year Cornerback Kristian Fulton went as far as to say the defense is capable of "winning Super Bowls."
Highlighted by their 9 sack performance against the Bengals, the pass rush took huge strides last season and will do the same in 2022. The Titans had 43 sacks last season, over doube the total from the season prior, and had 3 players with 8.5 sacks or more: Harold Landry III, Denico Autry, and Jeffrey Simmons.
In addition to those three, who really progressed as the season went on, Bud Dupree is entering his second season with Tennessee. Dupree had the lowest sack total of his career in 2021 with just 3 but with another year removed from his torn ACL and an even better defense around him, he could make an impact in 2022.
The secondary is high risk high reward. Jon Robinson has not brought in the average veteran CB that he typically does each offseason, showing trust in this very young group.
The last two years has seen a revamp of the secondary, including the exits of Kenny Vaccaro, Malcom Butler, Logan Ryan, and Jackrabbit Jenkins and the acquisition of Kristian Fulton, Caleb Farley, Elijah Molden, and Roger McCreary.
I have no doubts about Fulton as the team's top corner and I trust Molden to fit into the mix but the other spots are likely up for grabs. 2020 first round pick, Caleb Farley, is coming off a torn ACL and is another young corner with vast potential but due to injury, the rest of the corner depth is a but uncertain.
Of course, Kevin Byard remains bolstering the secondary at Safety and the younger Amani Hooker, who really improved last season, will play alongside him.
As a whole, the defense has the most potential of any Titans team in multiple years and with an improving offense, the Titans can have similar or greater success in 2022.
There are many reasons for optimism about the 2022 Titans.