The Tennessee Titans came into this draft with more questions than answers.
No question was more larger than the looming job of replacing Logan Ryan, whose leadership and experience in the secondary instantly made him a guy to turn to in the locker room.
We didn’t have wait too long to get a concrete answer to that question though, as Kristian Fulton’s selection in the 2nd round, and newly signed veteran Jonathan Joseph, can more than make up for the departure of Ryan.
However, we’re around 5 days past the end of the 2020 NFL Draft, and this team still has some question marks on both sides of the ball.
First off, what will the Titans do surrounding Adoree Jackson and Corey Davis’ impending 5th year options? Should the Titans pick either of them up? Should they pick up one over the other? Which one and why?
Pass rusher also still needs to be addressed, but with Jon Robinson passing over the chance to add some juice to the pass rush via the draft, it seems Robinson is stuck with 2 reasonable options.
Either stick with the current EDGE group he has now, or dip back into the market and find some help from there, particularly from Jadeveon Clowney, who the Titans are still connected to.
Forget the defensive side of the ball for a moment, what can the Titans do to keep up their offensive success they rode en route to the AFC title game?
Lots of questions that don’t have pinpoint accurate solutions yet, but while we wait for some sort of direction, let’s discuss these current mysteries that surround the Tennessee Titans.
1. What Do the Titans Do With The 5th Year Options of Corey Davis & Adoree Jackson?
On the night of May 4th, at exactly midnight, the window to exercise 5th year options for 1st round picks from the 2017 draft class closes.
In the Titans’ case, 2 players currently residing on their roster are in line to have their 5th year options either exercised, or declined.
Corey Davis and Adoree Jackson, the 5th and 18th picks in the 2017 draft respectively, have compelling cases to have their options picked up.
Davis has had an up and down 3 years in Tennessee. After his 2nd season in the league, one in which he racked up a career high in catches and receiving yards, Davis came back down to earth in this 3rd year, leaving some wondering if his extreme up and down play could leave him finding a new home once his rookie deal expires.
You might look at the last line and say I’m overreacting a bit, but with the volatile hot and cold nature of Davis’ play, it’s difficult to know what to expect from him year in and year out.
His inconsistency has been a major reason in why he hasn’t been able to establish himself more in the offense, and with A.J. Brown expected to start the season as the #1 WR, it’s safe to say Davis’ short run as the “next big thing” in this offense has came to a screeching halt.
Davis however, is still full of potential, and his lackluster production can be tied to the lack of volume in targets he’s received during his career in Tennessee.
Whatever the case may be, it’s hard to fathom the Titans picking up his option, especially considering the price tag, which would come in at a whopping $15.8M.
As for Jackson’s case, it’s easier to see the Titans picking up his option.
Jackson’s transition into a fully putting all his time into playing corner, has had its ups and downs as well, but regardless of that, Jackson has been riding some sort of a high over the last couple of seasons. He’s developed into a reliable boundary corner, one in which that’s shown the ability to match up and play well against some of football’s best talents at the wide receiver position.
But just like Davis, inconsistency has plagued Jackson more times than he’d want.
One example I can reference is a 2 game stretch in 2018, one in which Jackson shut down the Patriots’ Josh Gordon in a dominating 34-10 win, then proceeded to get completely torched by T.Y. Hilton the next week in a 38-10 loss.
Both have some consistency issues, but Jackson’s continued reliability as a boundary corner, serves him the best chance at getting his 5th year option picked up.
2. Is Jon Robinson REALLY Satisfied With the EDGE Group?
As it stands now, the Titans’ starting EDGE rushers would be Harold Landry, and newcomer Vic Beasley.
Unless Landry can find another gear in terms of rushing the passer, and Beasley can put together a consistent pass rushing plan instead of relying on pure athleticism, this pass rush won’t be enough to get deep in the AFC playoffs again, let alone dethrone Kansas City.
But as the off-season has gone along, the Titans have found them selves in a great position to land Jadeveon Clowney, and give the pass rush the shot of talent its needed for some time.
However, Clowney’s free agency has moved at a snail’s pace, and it’s unknown when Clowney might make a decision on when to sign a new deal.
With Clowney’s status as a free agent unlikely to change soon, the Titans could’ve put an end to their chase of Clowney, and drafted some EDGE help via the draft. But the draft came and went, with the Titans ignoring the chance to add to their EDGE group.
What does that signal you say?
It could mean the Titans are putting a decent amount of their chips into signing Clowney, or maybe Jon Robinson is satisfied with the EDGE group he currently has.
I’ll be honest, signing Clowney won’t give the Titans the magic key to knock Kansas City down from their AFC pedestal, but it’d certainly be a good start.
Plus, adding a talent like Clowney’s can’t hurt right?
3. Can Arthur Smith Carry Over the End of Season Offensive Momentum Into 2020?
It’s not wrong to say the Titans’ offense down the stretch last season, was probably the best stretch of offensive football this franchise has had in the last decade.
But the real challenge begins now, by finding a way to recapture that offensive magic and sustain it, and it all starts with the man in charge, Arthur Smith.
Smith certainly went through his growing pains as a first time coordinator last season, but once Ryan Tannehill was inserted into the lineup, it seemed Smith’s playcalling got a bit….easier.
Gone were the days of being handicapped by Marcus Mariota and his unfortunate tendency to hold on to the ball a too long, resulting in negative plays, and tasking the defense of winning games, and even scoring points when the offense couldn’t put together a decent drive.
In came Ryan Tannehill, elevating this offense to heights none us could’ve even imagined.
Tannehill’s historic success isn’t likely to be duplicated in 2020, but if he can even comes close to that, Arthur Smith’s job becomes a lot more relaxing going forward.
Smith however, has to take this chance to learn, and evolve from his performance in 2019.
The passing offense as a whole without play action, was at times, a head scratching trainwreck.
The lack of explosiveness in the passing game didn’t do Smith any wonders, but the lack of creativity in the passing game limited this offense’s ability to be diverse. Too many chunk plays relied on the excellence of Derrick Henry’s ability to bring more defenders into the box, and the stunning ability of A.J. Brown to turn nothing into one gigantic something.
I’m not saying this offense needs a total makeover, and should switch to some Air Raid offense you’d only see in the ranks of the PAC-12.
What I am saying though, is this offense needs a lot more creativity and explosiveness in the passing game.
3rd round draft choice Darrynton Evans, is a nice step towards having more than one method of attack in your arsenal. It isn’t complete yet, but with some tweaking within the offense and careful additions on the offensive side of the ball, it’ll be complete in no time.