What Does Julio Jones Change About the Titans
Early this morning we got the news that the Tennessee Titans are trading for All-Pro receiver Julio Jones. While the compensation for the deal has not been finalized yet, sources believe that this deal will get done, and be official on Monday.
This deal makes sense for both sides, as Jones gets traded to a team that has been an AFC contender for the last couple of seasons, while the Titans get to pair Jones with their young star in AJ Brown. Let us now take a look at how this trade affects the Titans, and if it makes them a legit contender in the AFC.
The Titans Offense
The Titans were one of the most explosive offenses last season, averaging 30.7 points per game. They had the NFL rushing leader in Derrick Henry, who had over 2000 yards rushing and an explosive passing attack led by AJ Brown. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill has enjoyed a career resurgence the last two years in Tennessee, with a 106.7 passer rating last season.
However, over the last couple of months, the Titans lost receiver Corey Davis and tight end Jonnu Smith in free agency. Smith and Davis combined for 137 targets last season, which until today the Titans did not have an adequate replacement for. This was a wide-open hole that was just screaming with a trade for Jones, and it is now official. The Titans don’t have to change up their offense at all from last season, and still will have enough touches to go around for Henry, Brown, Jones, as well as other role players such as tight end Anthony Firkser.
Over the past two seasons, the Titans have been a top-two rushing offense and a top-three passing offense per EPA/play. By adding Julio Jones to this offense, expect the passing efficiency to only get better. Defenses will now have to account for both Jones and Brown in the passing game, both of who are arguably top five receivers in the game. As long as Tannehill continues the level of play he has shown the last few seasons, this Titans offense will be lethal.
Perfect Fit for Julio
Not only was Jones a need for the Titans, but the Titans are also a perfect fit for Julio. Julio doesn’t have to be the alpha receiver in the Titans offense, and at 32 years old, this is important for a receiver of his caliber. And with Henry, the Titans will continue to be a run-first offense, taking even more pressure away from Jones. The Titans haven’t had a losing season since 2015, with three playoff appearances in that span. This includes a trip to the AFC Championship after the 2019 season, followed by winning the AFC South this season. This Titans team is in a championship window, and Julio makes them a greater threat in the AFC.
Jones also is going to an organization with stable leadership. The last couple of seasons, the Falcons have been in organizational dysfunction, with a new front office and head coach taking over this season. The Titans, however, have built a stable culture under head coach Mike Vrabel. The Titans have also never had a losing season under General manager Jon Robinson. This is the perfect environment for Jones, and so, this trade is also good on his end.
Titans Super Bowl Window
This trade keeps the Super Bowl Window alive for Titans and arguably increases their chances. While they lost offensive coordinator Arthur Smith, they promoted Todd Downing, who was the tight ends coach under Smith. Downing will keep the same system that has worked so well the last few seasons, and Jones gives him even more talent to work with. With a trio of Brown, Jones, and Henry, this Titans offense will be a nightmare for defenses week in and week out, which makes them at the very least, a contender.
The only thing that will be holding the Titans back is their defense. And they have made strides to improve it. By signing defensive end Budd Dupree and cornerback Janoris Jenkins, the Titans made an effort in free agency to add talent to that side of the team. They also spent their first-round pick on cornerback Caleb Farley, who, if healthy, should bring an immediate impact. If the defense can be improved upon last season, this trade would make the Titans in the argument with the Bills, Ravens, and Chiefs as the top teams in the AFC.