In 2017, the Titans made the playoffs for the first time since 2008 and won their first playoff game since 2003. All that wouldn’t have been possible without the breakouts of fellow players like Kevin Byard, Derrick Henry, and even a veteran like Wesley Woodyard. In order to take the next step as a Super Bowl contender, the Titans need a few more players to breakout and propel the Titans to more success. Here are a few players who are ready to take the next step this season.
Derrick Henry or “El Tractorcito” found himself in a peculiar situation last season. He was clearly the better back, but Mike Mularkey stubbornly kept starting the ineffective DeMarco Murray. When Mularkey had no choice but to start Henry because of a knee injury to Murray, the former Heisman winner didn’t disappoint. In perhaps the biggest game for this franchise since 2008, Henry ripped off 23 carries for a career high 156 yards. He showed what he can do when given a larger role. The Titans did bring in Dion Lewis as a free agent. from New England. Yes, he will cut into some of Henry’s carries, but with a new offense that’s going to be heavy on play action, the running game will be a large part of their success. Henry and Lewis will compliment each other well, but I still expect “Mr. 4th Quarter” to lead the way.
Corey Davis was a victim of a terrible offensive scheme lead by Mike Mularkey and some bad luck with health. His athleticism and ability to stretch the field as a route runner would signal large YAC numbers and utilization on screens and such, but that unfortunately wasn’t the case last year. Now with a new offense in place, and a full offseason to grasp the playbook, I expect Davis to take a large step forward and show consistent oozes of what this team expected him to be when he was drafted 5th overall in the 2017 NFL Draft. Don’t worry, we won’t see him used as a blocker for an Eric Decker screen pass this year so take your deep breath.
Jackson was seen as a bit of raw corner when he was coming out of college. He struggled a little in the first game few games of the season in which he was he was picked on a little bit. As the season went on however, he got better and better. With another offseason to develop his craft and more familiarity as a boundary corner, I expect Jackson to take a huge step forward and become a notable name on this Titans defense. Jackson is now learning from defensive back coach, Kerry Coombs who has had great success with young cornerbacks for many years at Ohio State.
Like Corey Davis, Taylor was also a victim of the dreaded “run the ball until you can’t” scheme lead by Mike Mularkey. Mularkey wasn’t creative with Taylor at all except for a few jet sweeps and lining him up at right tackle in a playoff game?! With no creativity on offense for Taylor, he was forced to make the most of his impact on special teams. With a new offense in place that will undoubtedly put the ball in the hands of a playmakers, I expect Taylor to jump out more in his second season. Look out for 1-3 this season.
Now I had plenty names to choose from for this last spot. Marcus Mariota, Rahsaan Evans, hell even Jonnu Smith. But I’m going to go with the 2nd round pick from the 2018 NFL Draft, Harold Landry. While I don’t believe Landry will start right away, he’ll make a large impact rushing the passer. His talent is just too much to keep him on the sidelines. He has a fantastic ability to bend around the edge and a knack to intimidate as a run defender. I believe he’ll overtake the starting spot occupied now by Derrick Morgan and will help this Titans pass rush immensely. As it didn’t get enough pressure when rushing just four.
This is team is ready to explode and put this sky high potential to use. With a motivated team and plenty chances to prove itself to the league’s elites, I expect this team to play up to it’s competition. Who knows, maybe an AFC South crown and home playoff game is on the way. We’ll wait and see.