There’s been a lot of speculation, regarding Corey Davis’s future as a Tennessee Titan beyond this upcoming season. The 5th overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft hasn’t lived up to the expectations that come with being a top 5 pick, and with his 5th year option recently being declined, this season could be Davis’s last as a Titan.
He had an inconsistent, injury filled rookie year, in which the delay to catch his first ever touchdown pass ended in a divisional round loss to the New England Patriots. He then flashed some of the skill that warranted him being selected so high, by catching 65 passes for 891 yards and adding 4 touchdowns in 2018. It surely seemed like things were looking bright for the ex-Western Michigan product, but then, Davis put out another subpar year in 2019, killing any sort of hype that remained from his impressive 2018 year.
But the failure to live up to expectations hasn’t entirely been Davis’s fault. Up and down quarterback play, a lack of a second wideout to take away double teams from Davis, and a couple of injuries throughout the years have been factors in limiting Davis’s potential impact on the field. But at the end of the day, production rises above all, and if you can’t consistently produce in this league, you’ll find yourself looking looking work more than you’d like.
However, his contributions as a blocker haven’t gone unnoticed.
I identified 10 TDs in '18/'19 that would've been stopped short w/o @TheCDavis84 throwing a key block (or two).
So here's a thread called "Touchdowns Made Possible by Corey Davis Blocks," starting w/ Davis moving Patrick Chung out of the gap in the #Titans 2018 beatdown of NE. pic.twitter.com/NOw87Wysth
— Titans Film Room (@titansfilmroom) May 20, 2020
But you don’t get paid like a top receiver to just go out there and throw key blocks, that’s just reality.
So with Davis entering a pivotal 4th year in the league, and a 2nd contract with the Titans on the line, it’ll be up to him to go out and put up the necessary numbers. But with this offense employing a heavy run first approach, it remains to be seen if Davis will receive the crucial amount of targets in the passing game. Combine that with the structure of the passing game looking a little basic, along with the Titans’s ability to put up a gaudy number of explosive plays, and you might get a little concerned about Davis getting the right amount of chances to leave a lasting imprint on this upcoming season.
I’m sure Titans OC Arthur Smith understands Davis’s situation, and isn’t concerned about the potential lack of action in the passing game for Corey Davis, along with the rest of Titans’s passing game contributors.
On a Zoom call a couple of days ago, Arthur Smith discussed Corey Davis, and if he expects him to get the chances he needs to make plays.
“We hit some good chunk plays.” Smith said. “We were fortunate enough in some of those games that we got big leads, [and as a result], the passing opportunities went down. We certainly expect our passing game to take another step. Corey[Davis] and A.J.[Brown] are big part of that[evolution of the passing game], and we want to see their growth as well.
Like all of us, Smith understands the pressure that’s sitting on the shoulders of Corey Davis. It’s hard to gauge what it would really take, to see Corey Davis receiving a nice sized 2nd contract from the Titans. It’s useless to use statistics as a piece of predictive evidence in this situation, so we’ll rely on present evidence and logic instead.
A.J. Brown supplanted Corey Davis as the “WR1” this past year, and is likely going to assume that role this year. So is it really safe to downplay numerical expectations for Davis? Or are we all overthinking the whole “WR1”, or “go to guy” label? I think it’s a little of both, since both Davis and Brown both have the talent to keep opposing DC’s up late into the night, game planning on how to shut them down.
Either way, it’s a unique situation for Davis, one that is nothing but exciting for Arthur Smith, and one that’s a little conflicting for Davis since his future in Tennessee has a lot riding on this upcoming year.
Personally, these sort of situations are fun to watch. You get to see a guy work the hardest he’s ever worked, run the best routes he’s ran, take more time than usual to look for the tiniest advantages on film, all while operating with a massive chip on his shoulder. I know it might seem a little boring on the surface, but who doesn’t like a good “redemption” story huh?
I know Arthur Smith has been around a lot of guys that have found their selves in contract seasons, and he understands the outside perceptions of those situations, including the pressure to put up impressive numbers on the stat sheet.
“Obviously [there are] perceptions that matter in terms of how wide receivers are perceived, and the production that goes with it. Smith said. He’s [Corey Davis] is a big part of this offense, and I expect him to take another step.”
It looks like Smith has a lot of confidence in Davis’s ability to produce, and is expecting him to do so during this important season. It’s too difficult to predict whether Davis will produce or not, there’s a lot of variables that have to go his way, and a good bit of those don’t reside with his own ability on the field.
All that’s left to do is sit back and witness if Davis can go out there and make enough plays.
If he can’t, well, we’ll save that for if it occurs.
Featured image via Christopher Hanwinckel & Kirby Lee/USA Today Sports