The Tennessee Titans made the playoffs in 2017 and advanced past the wild card round, but it wasn’t enough to keep head coach Mike Mularkey in Nashville.

Tennessee elected to make wholesale changes to the coaching staff, bringing in former Houston Texans defensive coordinator Mike Vrabel to captain the ship.

The hiring of a new head coach, after the Titans won their first playoff game since 2003, sends the signal that simply reaching the playoffs isn’t enough for the Nashville based franchise.

Vrabel and his coaching staff will be expected to take the Titans deep into the playoffs on a routine basis. Anything less won’t be accepted.

ESPN, however, believes it could take some time before the Titans reach that level. In a recent poll of 22 experts, the Titans were selected as the team (tied with the Carolina Panthers) that reached the playoffs in 2017 that’s most likely to miss the playoffs this upcoming season.

Here’s what they have to say about Tennessee:

The Titans made significant changes in hopes of taking them, and specifically quarterback Marcus Mariota, to the next level. The big question is how long it will take Mike Vrabel and new offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur to maximize this unit, and whether it will be enough to repeat as a playoff team in 2018. The AFC South might be the conference’s strongest division with star quarterbacks — Deshaun Watson, Andrew Luck — expected to return from injuries. It wouldn’t be hard for the Titans to make progress but still miss the playoffs. The Titans made smart offseason moves, but they still lack proven elite star power. All eyes are on Mariota’s development under LaFleur, and if it is slower than expected, that could lead to a non-playoff season.

I get what ESPN is saying, and I think they’re on point here.

It’s very possible that Tennessee could improve their win/loss record in 2018 and miss out on the playoffs. There’s a ton of parity in the AFC South right now. Any of the teams could win the division (even the Colts, if Andrew Luck is actually healthy).

Of course, it’s also possible the Titans take off like the Los Angeles Rams did last season.

There’s really no way to tell how Vrabel will fare in his first season as a head coach.

He could be Sean McVay and take the division by storm, or it might take him a year or two to find his footing as a head coach.

Featured image via USA Today

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  1. I’m sorry… but we have a worse chance to make the playoffs in 2018 than the Buffalo Bills? Just because of a new head coach & OC? I understand the concept that sometimes it takes time to reap the benefits of a newly implemented offensive scheme, but really? The “experts” see it as a more realistic chance that the Bills make the playoffs over the Titans? That’s absolutely ridiculous.

    Who’s going to lead them there? AJ McCarron? Who has played in 10 games since 2015, and hasn’t even had 150 pass attempts in his entire career? Or Nathan Peterman? Mr “5-Interceptions-in-30-minutes”? Or Josh Allen? The rookie who could only complete 56% of his passes in college? Their best player is a 30-year old running back, and while I love LeSean McCoy (on the field), he can’t carry the whole team into the playoffs by himself. And the Bills are especially screwed if Shady is found guilty in the whole ex-girlfriend abuse scandal. In that case, he gets suspended/jailed/etc and likely doesn’t play in the NFL ever again. And the best player on their offensive line from 2017 is now a free agent. Sure, they have some good players on defense (looking at you Tre White), but there are way too many holes/unknowns to actually be considered playoff contenders this year.

    The Titans have a rising-star quarterback who, while he had a down season in 2017, is considered to be one of the better young QBs in the game. They have an absolute monster of a RB in Henry, and just signed a perfect compliment to him in Dion Lewis this offseason. Running behind one of the best O-Lines in the NFL, they’re going to wreak havok on defenses this year. Our receiving core isn’t proven, and has a few unknowns, but also has a ton of potential. Even if Corey Davis only has an average season, we still have Rishard Matthews and Delanie Walker to help bolster the receiving core. And this isn’t even considering our defense, which features an all-pro safety and a few other pro-bowlers, or our Special Teams, featuring the best punter in the NFL last year, a consistently solid kicker, and at least 1 pro-bowl caliber special-teamer.
    I’m not saying that the Titans are a lock to make the playoffs in 2018. Our division is getting tougher, with Jacksonville’s star-studded defense, Watson/Nuk/Fuller/Watt/Mercilus/Clowney in Houston, and Andrew Luck in Indy (if he ever gets healthy enough to play). Anything could happen that could drastically changes odds (injuries, suspensions, etc). But the basis of this post remains the same:
    I don’t see how anyone could consider themselves a football expert and realistically pick the Buffalo Bills over the Tennessee Titans in 2018. It’s just flat out ignorant.

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