The Titans wide receiver corps has not performed well in years, but also were not in a traditional offense under Ken Whisenhunt.
Whisenhunt two and three tight end sets simply did not offer the Titans wideouts the same opportunities as wide receivers on other teams. One can read into that as they weren’t capable of being relied upon or weren’t good enough or it wasn’t a good decision by Whisenhunt. It could be a plethora of reasons, however, those are gone and they are starting anew.
The Titans offense of Dowell Loggains lacked imagination three years ago. Kendall Wright would take a few steps and cut across the field. He was fantastic at this. In just his second year, he would grab 94 passes for 1079 yards. He is such a quick shifty player, that if defenses tried to cover this route tightly, he often burned them. As the year wore on, more and more teams employed a zone defense and hit him after he caught it. They about gave him the catch, but he was going to pay by absorbing a hit.
There’s only so many 4-7 yard passes that can be done. The tight ends and other wide receivers just simply weren’t an integral part of the offense. They certainly needed more and this was one of the issue that led to the coaching change.
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Under Whisenhunt, Wright played in that two and three tight end offense and he never seemed comfortable. Prior to last season, there was a disagreement between Whisenhunt and Wright as to whether he was running the correct routes. Regardless of whom is right or wrong, this is elementary and shouldn’t happen.
As we head toward the 2016 season, Wright is in a precarious position. Mike Mularkey’s previous offenses have all relied upon good blocking from wide receivers. Wright often seems too small and has issues with blocking. He is the second highest paid player (making 7 million this year) and is coming off his worst season as a pro.
Kendall is more gadget player than traditional wide receiver. He is not going to burn defensive backs deep consistently. If he has the ball, he can make a move, turn on the jets, and run past you in a split second. As with Dante Hall of the Chiefs years ago and Tavon Austin of the Rams, the Titans need to script plays for him. They need to make a concerted effort to set him up. That’s different than a wide receiver running his route and getting open. It’s formulaic and somewhat boring until the second the player “shakes N bakes.”
Wright is without a doubt a fantastic talent and when he is ‘on’ he is exciting to watch. When he plays a typical wide receiver role, he’s relatively unimpressive.
It is very possible he is the surprising cut, trade, move of this offseason. In ten games, he had 36 catches for 408 yards. On any other team, those are unacceptable starter stats.