Titans of the NFL: How Julio Sets Tennessee’s Sight on February
A few weeks ago, on Skip Bayless and Shannon Sharpes’s Undisputed, Shannon made a call to
Julio Jones, live on the air, asking him, Do you want to go to the Cowboys, or do you want to
stay in Atlanta? His response? O man, nah I’m outta there man.
So started the Julio Jones lottery. For the last few weeks, fans across the NFL anxiously prayed
for their franchise to pull the trigger and add one of the greatest wide receivers in NFL history to
their team. However, unlike the Aaron Rodgers and Deshaun Watson sweepstakes, this lottery
has quickly come to a close, with the Tennessee Titans standing as the victors.
So what now? Do the Titans leap into the ranks of the elite contenders? Does this team now have
the firepower to surpass Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs, or Tom Brady and the Buccaneers? Or
does this team fall short of expectations? Only time will tell, but for now, we can at least make
an educated guess.
2020 Tennessee – Pre Julio Jones
To start things off, we have to understand one thing. The Titans were already one of the best
offenses in many statistical categories last year and placed near the top in every metric.
● 30.7 PPG (4th)
● 168.1 rush yards per game (2nd)
● 396.4 total yards per game (3rd)
Looking at these three major statistics, it would be easy to assume that there is little to no room
for growth for this offense. However, this is not the case, as one statistic could use a major
upgrade: passing yards per game. The Titans ranked 23rd in this metric, marking a major area
that needs improvement. So now, let’s delve into this a little more.
Running Game and the Defensive Attention
Given that the Titans have one of the best, if not the best, running backs in the league, a
reasonable solution to this problem would be running more play-action plays. One would think
with weapons like A.J Brown and Derrick Henry, the Titans would’ve been among the top of the league in play-action plays run last year. Yet, the Titans ranked just 17th in play-action plays run,
However, when Tennessee did run play action, they had one of the best play-action quarterbacks
in the league. According to Yahoo Sports, Tannehill ranked third in completion percentage at
75.6%, ranked first in passer rating with a passer rating of 143.6 and ranked first in adjusted
yards per attempt with 14.1 yards per attempt.
Now, let’s piece these blocks of information together. The Titans had one of the best cumulative
offenses in the league, despite deficiencies in their passing yards per game. We also know this
isn’t because of a lousy quarterback, as Ryan Tannehill has proven to be a more than capable
quarterback in many metrics.
At this point, we can reasonably conclude that the Titans needed to improve their receiving core
and that Julio Jones is an excellent addition for the Titans.
Barring any significant injuries, it would be fair to say that the Titans will remain a top-five offense. With one of the best wide receiver duos in the league paired with one of the best running
backs in the league, it’s easy to expect a significant improvement in total passing YPG coupled
with a slight dip in rushing YPG. Moreover, the increased pass attempts per game should
decrease the number of men in the box, allowing Henry to rush against 6 and 7 man looks. This
should result in more yards per attempt and less wear and tear on the 27-year-old back.
Will this be enough to compete with the cream of the top for a Super Bowl? With numerous
question marks on the defensive side of the ball, it still appears doubtful that the Titans will be
hoisting the Lombardi in 2022.
So, for now, expect the Titans to finish with a record in the neighborhood of 12-5/11-6, with a
possible appearance in the AFC Championship.