We’re halfway through this season, which feels so weird to say.
It doesn’t feel long ago, that the Cleveland Browns were the preseason Super Bowl champs, and Andrew Luck pulled an absolute stunner by retiring before the regular season even started.
The Titans are 4-4, and have a nice chance to go on the road and get above .500 against the Carolina Panthers.
But before we get to that, I have assembled you all here to give you my midseason grades for every position group on the team. Sounds like a lot, and it is, but I’m here to shrink it down to a point you won’t get bored reading.
I’ll quit by rambling, and let you get to the midseason grades for every position group on the Tennessee Titans.
The obvious starter is Marcus Mariota, and how he was benched for the offseason acquisition, Ryan Tannehill. Mariota just wasn’t playing good football during the time he was starting. He missed too many WRs, took too many sacks, and was a liability far too many times on offense.
I won’t put all of the blame on Mariota though, as his offensive line and the coaching haven’t done him any favors so far this year.
More on those 2 later.
Once Tannehill was inserted into the lineup, the offense ran much smoother than it had all year. Corey Davis and the rest of the WR core saw more targets than they had all year. Tannehill also has gotten the ball out quicker, therefore decreasing his risk for injury.
Something the Titans just can’t afford right now.
So for this grade, I’ll roll with a C+, with Tannehill’s recent play being the main reason it isn’t even lower.
Now this is a really generous grade at first glance. I looked at Derrick Henry’s numbers, and saw that while they aren’t spectacular, they’d be so much higher if he got a lot more consistent run blocking from his offensive line.
Henry on the season so far, has 151 carries for 581 yards and 5 TDs. Again, these numbers would be much, much better if Henry has had better run blocking from his so far inconsistent offensive line.
— NFL (@NFL) October 27, 2019
Regardless of the offensive line play, Henry has carried the running style he picked up in the stretch run of last season, into this season. Dragging defenders, running through contact, and getting the yards he needs to get. Instead of the occasional bounce outside, and losing 2-3 yards.
Henry hasn’t done much in the passing game however, and will need to start doing more if he wants to be mentioned among the top backs in the NFL.
But for now, Henry has been the only consistent player on this Titans offense. He’ll need to continue his physical running style in the 2nd half of the season, to give this Titans offense any sort of chance each and every week.
I’ve been on the record of saying this WR core hasn’t been utilized the best so far this season. Spacing on route combos haven’t been the best, and QB play has dried up any sort of high potential this talented WR core had.
But thety can’t escape any sort of blame either.
This core sometimes has a problem of disappearing in games. Whether it’s their fault of not, their lack of impact on the offense at times is pretty damn alarming. Especially considering the amount of talent that runs in that group.
I believe the QB change to Ryan Tannehill helped a lot, specifically Corey Davis.
They’ll need to be a lot more consistent in the 2nd half, but if they are and find a way to solve this lone issue, look out.
This group’s lack of impact so far is kind of puzzling. Considering how Arthur Smith has loved to use a lot of 2-3 TE sets early on, I expected a lot more success from this group than what they’ve achieved so far.
Delanie Walker has looked pretty much fine, he just hasn’t gotten the same amount of targets he’s used to. Now that can be attributed to the preference to the run game and how improved the WRs are, but his lack of activity in the passing game has been surprising to say the least.
Add on that Walker has been banged up this year, and will miss his 2nd straight game with an ankle injury, it just hasn’t been a year to remember for Delanie Walker.
Jonnu Smith on the other hand, has started to find the key to unlock his astronomical potential. Ever since Ryan Tannehill has been starting at QB, Smith has racked up 9 catches for 142 yards and a TD.
Where Jonnu Smith wins part II pic.twitter.com/Wwmjq3mUcE
— Matt Waldman (@MattWaldman) October 27, 2019
Smith has been widely looked at the heir to Delanie Walker’s throne once Walker moves on, and he’s sure starting to look like a damn good replacement. Not to mention his blocking has improved a bit as well.
Keep an eye out on this young stud in the 2nd half of the 2019 season.
This group was going to have the lowest grade out of all. There’s been way too much inconsistency on the line, starting with new free agent guard Roger Saffold, and plug in starters Nate Davis and Jamil Douglas.
Jack Conklin hasn’t stood out this year, and Taylor Lewan hasn’t played like an upper tier OT.
I’ll give him benefit on the doubt though, as this is his 5th game back and has actually played some pretty good football over the last couple of weeks.
It’s pretty simple with this group, get better, or someone else will come in and do your job for you. No one has time for QBs to get dinged up because you missed a block, or a RB to get stuffed time and time again because you can’t get a push.
It’s time to get it together, or you’ll be stuck at home for the playoffs and be the reason why 2 QBs haven’t been able to leave a game healthy.
The Titans’ DL has quietly gotten the job done as the season has gone on. Jurrell Casey hasn’t been his usual disruptive self this season, but he’s still making plays in the run game and helping others on the inside.
DaQuan Jones has continued to be a rock in the run game, and has upped the ante a bit as a pass rusher this year.
Jeffery Simmons, AKA Big Jeff, has been better than you’d expect in limited action this year. It seems that he isn’t concerned about his surgically repaired left knee whenever he plays, and has benefited a great deal from Casey and Jones being there to help him settle in.
Thread on Jeffery Simmons impact in his 2nd career game Sunday vs the Bucs. The rookie keeps making plays for this #Titans defense.
First, a crucial play on the 1st defensive series. Titans managed to hold TB to a FG from the 4-yard line after DPI, thanks in part to this effort. pic.twitter.com/zt4iiTWXpt
— Titans Film Room (@titansfilmroom) October 28, 2019
I’d keep a close eye on this group of big guys, especially this weekend, as they’ll be without Jurrell Casey due to a shoulder injury.
Everyone expected Harold Landry to be a big difference maker this season, as he took on a full time role due to the departures of Brian Orakpo and Derrick Morgan.
Landry surely hasn’t disappointed.
Landry has 5 sacks and 7 TFLs so far this year, even adding on 1 forced fumble and 2 fumbles recoveries. It’s safe to say that Landry just might be the pass rusher the Titans can depend on for some time.
2019 NFL pass-rushing (PRWR)rankings: Not in top 10 but Harold Landry is 21st winning on 16.1% of his rushes. Landry has won the 6th most edge rushes (28) and has a win rate of 18.6% (12th). He's won vs double team on the edge 20.2% (5th most). #Titans https://t.co/069ul7LAhJ
— TURRON DAVENPORT (@TDavenport_NFL) October 30, 2019
It’s only his 2nd year though, and Landry has yet to show he can consistently win against OT’s with a move other than his speed rush. But that can come in time, and it will if he continues to rack up the sacks this year.
— CAA Football (@CAA_Football) October 30, 2019
I surely can’t talk about the OLB’s without mentioning Cameron Wake. Wake is the old man of the defense, providing a big spark in the limited snaps that he plays.
Wake has been a little dinged up as well this year, and hasn’t had a notable performance since week 1 at Cleveland. But that doesn’t take away the fact that Wake is a wrecking ball, waiting to destroy an offense each snap he plays.
But the 2 of them haven’t been able to make this pass rush elite so far, which has kept this Titans defense from being mentioned among the tops in the league.
Reggie Gilbert has been a nice addition, but he isn’t a gamechanger. Sharif Finch hasn’t done a lot this year, and hasn’t been able to stay healthy this year.
Don’t make me speak about Kamalei Correa.
This pass rush will have to come alive a lit more often in the stretch run, as this Titans offense has a large chance to sputter and fail pretty much every time they’re out there.
With that comes more snaps for the defense, and more opportunities for the OLB’s to rush the passer.
The Titans have a unique duo of young LB’s on their team. The names of Rashaan Evans and Jayon Brown haven’t been mainstream yet, but if they continue their great play, they deserve the recognition they’ve been hungry for.
Evans has took over one of the the starting ILB spots on this team and has done nothing but impress. Evans has 66 tackles this year, good for 12th in the league, plsu 4 TFL’s. He’s been one of plenty bright spots on this Titans defense and will most likely continue to shine.
Jayon Brown can’t be forgotten either.
Brown has 30 tackles, 1 sack, and 6 passes defended(PDs) this year.
These 2 are playmakers, and only in their 2nd and 3rd years respectively.
They’ll be constant names on this defense for years to come.
I’ll keep this one short and sweet, as this group has been the most consistent on the Titans this year.
Kevin Byard has played like his elite self, Kenny Vaccaro is playing well, Malcom Butler has continued his success from last season, Logan Ryan has saw an uptick in his statistical production, and Adoree Jackson has played some good football.
This group has been the rock of the Titans defense, as they’ve been tasked with doing a little more extra work due to the pass rush not being great 100% of the time.
I don’t see any type of drop off in performance for these guys any time soon.
While I won’t dive deep into the Cairos Santos debacle against the Bills, I will say his play that week is a good chunk of the reason why this grade is a little low.
Santos before that performance was filling in well, but one bad day ended up costing him a roster spot.
Cody Parkey has been fine, even though he’s doinked an XP.
Ryan Succop is eligible to return to play this weekend, but there’s no further word on if he’ll suit up .
Brett Kern is simply the best punter in the NFL.
He’s constantly bailing this team out time and time again, flipping field position and allowing this defense to get aggressive on early downs.
Not to mention he’s saving the tail of this pretty bad offense everytime he runs out there.
No concerns with this man whatsoever.
Featured photo via Christopher Hanewinckel- USA TODAY Sports