The Tennessee Titans lack of wide receiver depth was on full display vs the Buffalo Bills, but it’s not the offense’s biggest need.
By Kyle Robinson for A to Z Sports Nashville
The Tennessee Titans’ offense is in desperate need of more weapons. Dropped passes have not only completely killed drives for the Titans- they resulted in a loss against a bad team in the Bills. However, wide receiver isn’t the biggest need for the team.
While I agree that wide receiver depth is atrocious, Delanie Walker’s absence is what is truly stalling this offense. This is the first time in quarterback Marcus Mariota’s career that he doesn’t have a reliable threat at the tight end position.
The tight end position has been a safety blanket for Mariota since he entered the league in 2015. Since then, Walker totalled 2,695 yards on 233 receptions, making him by far the most consistent receiving threat for the Titans in that time. He was off to a great start to this season as well, catching 4 passes for 52 yards before suffering a season ending ankle/leg injury.
Former third round pick Jonnu Smith, who was expected to pick up the slack when Walker went down, hasn’t been able to carry the load. The tight end position as a whole has been a non-factor for the offense.
Zero catches by #Titans tight ends the past two games
— Terry McCormick (@terrymc13) October 7, 2018
Vrabel on Jonnu Smith: We all have to do more, including anybody that would be a target for the QB.
— Terry McCormick (@terrymc13) October 8, 2018
Smith has registered only two receptions for 21 yards on nine pass targets. Stocker has caught five passes for 63 yards this season – one going for 31 yards in against Miami.
There isn’t a free agent available that’s on the Pro-Bowl TE’s level. However, there are other options that would be obvious pass-catching upgrades over Smith and Stocker (Stocker has been solid in the run game thus far).
The most well-known option available is former Indianapolis Colts and New Orleans Saints TE Coby Fleener. He played for the Saints last season, where he garnered 22 receptions for 295 yards, catching 73.3% of passes that went his way. While Fleener isn’t perfect, he would likely provide Mariota with a more dynamic receiving threat at tight end. Fleener was still dealing with concussion symptoms this summer.
Don’t get me wrong – wide receiver depth is still a giant hole on this roster, especially after Darius Jennings and Nick Williams has crucial drops in consecutive weeks. But the wide receiver market, outside of Dez Bryant (who only caught 52.3% of his targets last season, per Pro Football Reference), is scarce. Outside of pulling off a trade, signing a veteran tight end would likely be the Titans best course of action.
Featured Image via AP Photo / Jeffrey T Barnes