The Tennessee Titans started off the 2019 season with Marcus Mariota under center, the quarterback out of the University of Oregon who the Titans picked as the second overall choice in the 2015 NFL draft. After underachieving throughout his first four years in Tennessee, Mariota continued for the first six weeks of 2019, leading the Titans to a 2-4 record, Mariota was benched for Ryan Tannehill. Tannehill, who was selected in the 2012 draft by the Miami Dolphins proved to be unimpressive as well throughout his NFL career. However, Tannehill heated up the team to a 7-3 record for the last 10 games of the season, clinching a playoff berth.
The Titans were perhaps the most overachieving team in the 2019 NFL playoffs pulling off two upsets against the Patriots in the wildcard round (+4.5 underdogs according to Sportsline), and the number 1 seeded Baltimore Ravens in the divisional round (+10 underdogs according to Caesars), before losing to the eventual Super Bowl champions Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship.
The Titans really played old school football to get them to their place in the AFC championship. They ran hard through the middle, averaging 33.3 rushing attempts per game in the playoffs, with almost all of them going to Derrick Henry, a 6’5’’, 238-pound brute who averaged 149 yards per game over that span.
This summer both Tannehill and Henry were free agents, and remarkably the Titans decided to sign Tannehill to a four year $117 million dollar deal, while they tagged Henry, a questionable choice considering how remarkably hard to tackle Henry seemed during their playoff run.
The Titans scheme is easy for quarterbacks. By running the ball 30+ times per game, it becomes easier for Tannehill purely off the basis of having to throw the ball less. The contract they gave to Tannehill shows the premium quarterbacks receive in the leagues nowadays and the expendability of running backs.
The AFC South should be easier for the Titan’s next year with the chaos currently that is taking place in Houston surrounding the Deandre Hopkins trade. With no real threats in the Jacksonville Jaguars or the Philip Rivers led colt, if the Titans can continue to build off of their impressive playoff run, they can be a real contender in the AFC in 2020.