20 years ago, the Denver Broncos beat the Green Bay Packers 31-24 to win the Super Bowl. The following year, the Atlanta Falcons lost to the Denver Broncos 34-19 in the next title game. But the year after, the Tennessee Titans lost to the St. Louis Rams by one single yard. In recent history, Super Bowl 50 finished with a Denver win over the Carolina Panthers. The following Super Bowl ended with a Falcons loss to the New England Patriots, this game was played just this year. So next year, you better believe the Tennessee Titans will be there. Only this time, the streak will be broken and the Titans will go out guns blazing and secure the W. Two-tone blue confetti will litter the U.S. Bank Stadium and the streets of Nashville, TN.
In 2015, the Tennessee Titans had the NFL’s worst win record and therefore secured the #1 spot in the 2016 NFL draft. On January 14, 2016, the Titans hired Jon Robinson as their new general manager and he went to work immediately. In the offseason, Robinson signed six free agents and traded for DeMarco Murray. On April 28, 2016, the day of the NFL draft, Robinson traded the #1 overall draft pick of the Titans to the St. Louis Rams for their first-round pick the following year and a few more late round picks.
With the help of Robinson’s aptitude for managing a football team, the Tennessee Titans went from worst to almost first in their division, losing only to the Houston Texans after QB Marcus Mariota was hurt. It could only go up from there, but now the Titans are in a position to really win it all.
With the first draft pick made by Robinson in 2016, Jack Conklin, the Titans’ offensive line became one of their strongest points on the field, winning the Pro Football Focus’ best offensive line award. Additionally, DeMarco Murray led the AFC in rushing yards and Rishard Matthews (one of the players picked up in free agency) became a clutch receiver for Mariota with touchdowns almost every game.
The Titans are still struggling a bit in the defensive backfield, though. They have yet to find a star cornerback to cover opposing receivers. The Titans had one of the lowest passing defenses in 2016, allowing nearly 287 on average per game. Along with a cornerback, the Titans need a good, strong safety in the defensive backfield as well. Pass coverage is a must if the Titans intend to continue their win streak.
Just as much as they need a good defense, the Titans have got to find some big, playmaking receivers. Tight end and pro-bowler Delanie Walker has been in the NFL for ten years now. He is a massive influence for the Titans offense, leading NFL tight ends in receptions in 2015 and a career high of seven touchdowns in 2016. But tight ends have a grueling job on the field, and when his contract is up after the 2017 season, Walker may seriously consider retirement. Along with Walker, the Titans only have a handful of good receivers. Matthews has reached a career-high with the Titans, but he cannot be the only receiver making plays. Tajae Sharpe had a decent rookie season but only recorded one career touchdown. While he knows how to make the catch and not drop the ball, touchdowns win games more than good catches. The Titans need to take advantage of free agency and sign a veteran receiver to help Mariota out down the field. As much as the Titans are known for having a rushing offense, DeMarco Murray cannot carry the team on his shoulders. In my opinion, Robinson should scoop up Kenny Stills before he’s gone.
The Tennessee Titans have a real shot at the Super Bowl next year. The key is to protect Marcus Mariota and keep him healthy throughout the season. But football is a team sport, so the defense needs to make the stops and it is vital that the receivers make good, clean receptions for first downs or even touchdowns. I am so excited to see what the Titans do in this fresh offseason and even more so to see how they improve all the way to Minnesota. Only this time, they will cross the line into the end zone for the win. Titan up.