This Is Why The Tennessee Titans Will Take You By Surprise In NFL 2017

This Is Why The Tennessee Titans Will Take You By Surprise In NFL 2017

Every year there is a team that shocks football fans everywhere. Who will that be in 2017?

Every year in the NFL, there is always one team called the "sleeper" team. It's usually a team that, whether it's because their stalwart defense or their blazing offense, will burst onto the scene, rise up into relevancy and rain on the parade of the historical elites of the league. Two years ago, it was the Raiders and the Panthers, and last year, it was the Cowboys and the Falcons. This year, I believe that it will be the Tennessee Titans. The Tennessee Titans had been struggling for a long time, with quarterback and defensive woes plaguing the team. However, their young and very talented quarterback Marcus Mariota, Mike Mularkey and his "exotic Smashmouth" style of run-heavy offense have been slowly pushing the Titans up in the NFL rankings. The Tennessee Titans can make a deep run into the playoffs this year, and here are the four main reasons why.

1. Their rushing attack is one of the best.

In the 2016-2017 season, the Tennessee Titans' offense was great. They ranked third in rushing in the league. Their "Exotic Smashmouth" running style, composed of the dynamic runner DeMarco Murray and bulldozer Derrick Henry, performed very well, gaining about 2,100 rushing yards and scoring 16 touchdowns on the ground. Expect their dominance to continue. DeMarco Murray rushed for about 1300 yards and scored nine touchdowns last season, and he shows no sign of slowing down at the age of 29. Derrick Henry, who rushed for about 500 yards and scored five touchdowns, seems to have progressed in his development. Look for him to get more carries this year, and score more touchdowns. And if that wasn't scary enough for opposing teams, Marcus Mariota is one of the best dual threat quarterbacks in the league.

2. Their passing game has improved.

Their aerial attack was also proficient in 2017. Under Marcus Mariota, one of the best red-zone scorers in the league, their passing game has also flourished. The Titans also have one of the most reliable tight ends in the league: Delanie Walker. They also made smart moves to improve their passing game as well. The Titans signed one of the best red-zone receiving threats, Eric Decker, and they drafted Corey Davis, a young and very talented receiver out of Western Michigan. With their improved passing attack and already-phenomenal running game, the Titans can grow to become one of the elite offenses in the league.

3. Their defense has improved.

The Titans' defense is, well, average. The Titans averaged about 317 yards given up per-game, which put them at about 20th in the league. Their main weakness was their pass defense. They gave up about 269.2 passing yards per game and had 12 interceptions last year. That's an average number, and if the Titans were aiming for mediocrity, they did it. However, this is a team that is aiming to make a deep run into the playoffs, and that simply won't do it. To improve their pass defense, they drafted Adoree Jackson out of USC. He had a very productive career at the University of South Carolina, with five interceptions in his final year in college. He is a great asset on defense and can contribute on special teams and even help on offense. With this draft pick, as well as drafting a linebacker in Jayon Brown, the Titans are primed to make big strides in their defense.

4. They are in a weak division.

It is no secret that nowadays, the AFC south is one of the weakest divisions in the league. This year, the Titans can take advantage of that. The Jaguars have been consistently bad under Blake Bortles, and don't seem to be getting any better. The Colts have one of the best quarterbacks in the league, Andrew Luck, but the rest of their team (especially their defense) is very weak. And for the Houston Texans, it seems to be the complete opposite. Their defense is strong, but their offense is weaker, and their quarterback situation doesn't seem to be doing them any favors. Because all the other teams have substantial problems, the Titans seem like the most complete team in the AFC South. The Titans can easily win this division and go to the playoffs.

At one point in time, the Titans were thought of as the worst team in the NFL. However, through smart drafting, trading and management changes, they have since become one of the rising powers in the NFL. By drafting a franchise quarterback in Marcus Mariota, and adding weapons around him, the Titans seem to have made a great offense. They have also started to shore up their defense. By doing all those things, the Titans have become a dark horse in the upcoming NFL season, and I believe that they have the potential to surprise many people in 2017.

Cover Image Credit: Michael Nacnac

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The Coach That Killed My Passion

An open letter to the coach that made me hate a sport I once loved.

I fell in love with the game in second grade. I lived for every practice and every game. I lived for the countless hours in the gym or my driveway perfecting every shot, every pass and every move I could think of. Every night after dinner, I would go shoot and would not allow myself to go inside until I hit a hundred shots. I had a desire to play, to get better and to be the best basketball player I could possibly be.

I had many coaches between church leagues, rec leagues, personal coaches, basketball camps, middle school and high school. Most of the coaches I had the opportunity to play for had a passion for the game like I did. They inspired me to never stop working. They would tell me I had a natural ability. I took pride in knowing that I worked hard and I took pride in the compliments that I got from my coaches and other parents. I always looked forward to the drills and, believe it or not, I even looked forward to the running. These coaches had a desire to teach, and I had a desire to learn through every good and bad thing that happened during many seasons. Thank you to the coaches that coached and supported me through the years.

SEE ALSO: My Regrets From My Time As A College Softball Player

Along with the good coaches, are a few bad coaches. These are the coaches that focused on favorites instead of the good of the entire team. I had coaches that no matter how hard I worked, it would never be good enough for them. I had coaches that would take insults too far on the court and in the classroom.

I had coaches that killed my passion and love for the game of basketball.

When a passion dies, it is quite possibly the most heartbreaking thing ever. A desire you once had to play every second of the day is gone; it turns into dreading every practice and game. It turns into leaving every game with earphones in so other parents don't talk to you about it. It meant dreading school the next day due to everyone talking about the previous game. My passion was destroyed when a coach looked at me in the eyes and said, "You could go to any other school and start varsity, but you just can't play for me."

SEE ALSO: Should College Athletes Be Limited To One Sport?

Looking back now at the amount of tears shed after practices and games, I just want to say to this coach: Making me feel bad about myself doesn't make me want to play and work hard for you, whether in the classroom or on the court. Telling me that, "Hard work always pays off" and not keeping that word doesn't make me want to work hard either. I spent every minute of the day focusing on making sure you didn't see the pain that I felt, and all of my energy was put towards that fake smile when I said I was OK with how you treated me. There are not words for the feeling I got when parents of teammates asked why I didn't play more or why I got pulled after one mistake; I simply didn't have an answer. The way you made me feel about myself and my ability to play ball made me hate myself; not only did you make me doubt my ability to play, you turned my teammates against me to where they didn't trust my abilities. I would not wish the pain you caused me on my greatest enemy. I pray that one day, eventually, when all of your players quit coming back that you realize that it isn't all about winning records. It’s about the players. You can have winning records without a good coach if you have a good team, but you won’t have a team if you can't treat players with the respect they deserve.

SEE ALSO: To The Little Girl Picking Up A Basketball For The First Time

Cover Image Credit: Equality Charter School

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UFC 235: Titles, Debuts, And Redemption

UFC 235 Is Shaping Up To Be One Of The Most Anticipated Cards Of the Year


As 2019 continues to unfold we are getting closer and closer to one of the biggest cards of the year on March 2nd at UFC 235 with #3 ranked Light-heavyweight Anthony "Lionheart" Smith getting a shot at the title when he faces arguably the greatest of all time the UFC Light-heavyweight champion Jon "Bones" Jones. Since moving up to the Light-Heavyweight division Anthony Smith has been on a complete tear as he has finished 2 former champions in Rashard Evans and Mauricio Rua in devastating fashion. He also has a huge win over former title challenger Volkan Oezdemir. Since making his return to the Octagon and reclaiming his title when he finished Alexander Gustaffson via TKO at UFC 232 this will be Jones first title defense in 3 years.

The UFC Welterweight Champion "The Chosen One" Tyron Woodley will be in a fight where many expected him to be defending his title against the #1 ranked welterweight Colby Covington but that is not the case. Tyron will be taking on the #2 ranked "Nigerian Nightmare" Kamaru Usman in the Co-main Event as the champ is coming off of a dominant win over Darren Till at UFC 228 when he finished "The Gorilla" via D'arce choke in the 1st round. Kamaru Usman is also coming off of a huge win over former UFC Lightweight champion Rafael Dos Anjos when he defeated him in a fantastic performance that earned him the Unanimous Decision victory,

All eyes were on the "Funky" Ben Askren at the UFC 235 Press Conference as he will be making his highly anticipated debut in the organization when he faces former UFC Welterweight champion "Ruthless" Robbie Lawler in a fight that will really test Ben Askren in his UFC Debut as Lawler has knockout power and wrestling. Ben Askren is undefeated in his mix martial artists and he is has been known as someone who has a ground game that can go toe to toe with current UFC Lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov. He showcased his skills around the world as he is the former One and Bellator Welterweight Champion. "Ruthless" Robbie Lawler is coming off of a loss to Rafael dos Anjos and a serious injury that kept him out of action.

Another huge fight on the card will be #6 ranked Featherweight Jeremy Stephens defending his spot in the division against top prospect and upcoming #13 ranked Zabit Magomedsharipov. Stephens has been very dominant in the division despite his last loss against #1 ranked Jose Aldo and is hoping to derail this huge hype that is Zabit. Magomedsharipov is looking to break into the top 10 in the division if he can put on a dominant display and dismantle Jeremy Stephens.

Former UFC Bantamweight Champion #2 ranked Cody "No Love" Gardbrandt will make his return to the octagon as he hopes to put his last 2 losses against the current UFC Bantamweight Champion TJ Dillashaw behind him as he hopes to get back in the right direction to get his title back. Cody will be facing #8 ranked Pedro Munhoz as fireworks are expected to go off all night at the T-mobile Arena on March 2nd.

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