Quarterback Ryan Tannehill has been a joy to watch over the last two seasons with the Titans. With him behind center, the Titans have gone 18-8 and have averaged nearly 31 points per game. Perhaps I’m biased with the Titans but King Henry is the King, having cashed for me a +750 2020 futures to have the most rushing yards in the league. Entering 2021, Derrick Henry’s odds are +400.
However, this offense could look a little different this year. Good for the Atlanta Falcons: You have a new offensive coordinator in Arthur Smith. He’s the reason I’m so high on Matt Ryan to have a big year. Bad for the Titans: You lost your offensive coordinator to the Falcons. Aside from a quarterback change to Tannehill, Smith is a big part of why this offense has exploded over the last two seasons.
With Smith calling plays the last two seasons, the Titans have been top six in both passing and rushing efficiency. The Titans have rushed for 168 yards per game, and Tannehill has thrown a combined 55 touchdowns to just 13 interceptions. The success is attributed to Smith’s heavy use of play-action, something Tannehill excelled at in averaging 9.5 yards per attempt.
Smith is off to potentially make Matt Ryan 2021 league MVP, while Tannehill gets a new coordinator in Titans TE coach Todd Downing. Since he is familiar with this team, perhaps the change won’t affect the team. What we know about Downing, however, is he used play-action at the third-lowest rate in the NFL when coordinator for the 2017 Oakland Raiders.
The Titans have also benefited from playing a really easy schedule. Last season, Titans played just five games against teams ranked inside the top half for passing defenses, just three of those five were in the top 10. Last season, the Titans played seven games against teams ranked top half for rushing defense, and just four of those were against teams ranked inside the top 10.
This year, Titans are expected to play 10 games against teams ranked in the top half for total defense, six of which are in the top 10, four are in the top five.
Here’s a look at Tannehill’s production in his two seasons with the Titans in terms of completion and passing yards.
2019: 70.3 percent, 2,742
2020: 65.5 percent, 3,819
It’s a much tougher schedule to have with a new offensive coordinator. I would love to have seen what this offense could do with this tough of a schedule and the addition of WR Julio Jones under Smith but I expect this team to underwhelm by the standards they created for themselves in the last two years.
Not to mention, this defense ranked 22nd in total defense in 2019 and dropped even further to 29th last year. Having to play a better slate of quarterbacks this year, this defense could have a tough time getting off the field.
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