For the last three seasons, the Tennessee Titans have been a slightly above average NFL team.
Two years ago, the Titans won their first playoff game since the 2003 season.
A year ago, Tennessee narrowly missed out on a playoff appearance, despite dealing with injuries to quarterback Marcus Mariota, which significantly affected his effectiveness (there was also the season ending injury that tight end Delanie Walker suffered in the team’s season opening loss to the Miami Dolphins).
With Mike Vrabel in his second season as the Titans’ head coach, and a roster full of healthy players returning, it would be reasonable to expect Tennessee to take a major step forward in 2019.
But ESPN doesn’t agree.
The worldwide leader in sports recently revealed their 2019 season predictions for each team and they have the Titans projected to win eight games. ESPN also gives Tennessee a 35 percent chance to make the playoffs (and a two percent chance to win the Super Bowl).
Could the Titans really regress?
I find this projection from ESPN a bit perplexing.
The Titans will enter the 2019 season as a better team than they were in 2018. I don’t think anyone could objectively argue that they’ll be worse than last season.
Tennessee’s roster is healthy. Walker is working his way back and should be good to go for the regular season. Mariota is doing a lot of preventive maintenance (including playing at a heavier weight) to prevent injury issues from arising.
And let’s not forget the biggest reason the Titans won’t regress in 2019 — free agent/draft additions.
General manager Jon Robinson did a fabulous job in free agency by addressing several needs for the Titans. The signing of wide receiver Adam Humphries will give Mariota another extremely reliable option in the passing game (rookie wide receiver A.J. Brown will also be a major asset in 2019).
Offensive lineman Roger Saffold, who signed with the Titans after nine solid seasons with the Los Angeles Rams, will bolster Tennessee’s offensive line and help keep Mariota healthy.
The addition of Cameron Wake will give the Titans a lethal pass rusher, who will also allow second year edge rusher Harold Landry to develop at his own pace.
With those additions, plus the continued emergence of defensive back Kevin Byard and running back Derrick Henry, the arrow should certainly be pointing up for the Titans.
Of course, the Titans still have to go out and perform. But I’ve seen nothing from this team that indicates we should believe they won’t perform to the best of their abilities in 2019.
As long as everyone stays healthy (which is a big if), the Titans should be a playoff team who have the potential to make some serious noise in January. That means they should blow right past the eight win mark that ESPN is predicting for Tennessee next season.
Every year a team seemingly comes out of “nowhere” to be one of the best teams in the NFL.
Why not the Titans in 2019?
Featured image via Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports