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Now that the initial free agency frenzy and the 2022 NFL Draft are officially in the rearview mirror, it’s time to slowly start focusing on the Tennessee Titans’ upcoming year.
The Titans are one of the biggest mystery teams in the NFL going into 2022.
There is no denying that the Titans have made several noteworthy moves this offseason — the biggest of which was the trade of A.J. Brown — that suddenly make last year’s top-seeded AFC team a hard one to predict.
However, Tennessee has won a ton of games in recent years and you would think that would earn the team the benefit of the doubt, but skeptics are plentiful when it comes to the Titans’ 2022 season prospects.
With all that said, let’s dive into the reasons why Titans fans should be optimistic about the upcoming season.
Defense has the potential to be NFL's best
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
The Titans finished last season with one of the most physically imposing and productive defenses in the NFL.
From weeks 9-18, Tennessee’s defense ranked fourth in opposing points per game, 10th in opposing yards per play, and first in opposing yards per rush.
The entire unit saved their best performance for last, producing nine sacks and one interception in the playoff loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.
Due to the unfortunate ending, people tend to forget that the Titans’ defense mostly held the Bengals’ potent offense in check outside of when costly Titans turnovers put Cincinnati near scoring position.
In total, the Titans’ defense accounted for 52 sacks on the year, 39.5 of which came from the combination of Harold Landry, Jeffery Simmons, Denico Autry and Bud Dupree.
— Shaun Calderon (@ShaunMichaels31) April 17, 2022
Led by All-Pro defenders Simmons and Kevin Byard, Tennessee is returning nearly the entire starting defense from a year ago.
— PFF TEN Titans (@PFF_Titans) February 20, 2022
The only real revamp came at the cornerback position. The Titans are adding two corners to their secondary who were both recently selected with top-35 picks.
Caleb Farley was the 2021 first-round selection before suffering a season-ending knee injury. Meanwhile, Roger McCreary was the Titans’ second selection on draft weekend just a few weeks back.
The highest-graded corner in the country this season:
🔒 Roger McCreary🔒 pic.twitter.com/YzPuP7xa25
— PFF (@PFF) March 26, 2022
A full season of Farley and the addition of McCreary have the potential to take this already stout defense to an entirely different level. The Titans are also returning talented young cornerbacks in Kristian Fulton and Elijah Molden, both of whom showed plenty of promise throughout 2021.
-Every Kristian Fulton 3rd Down target-
Ranks among CB’s on 3rd Down
Success Rate: 21.4% (4th)
EPA/TGT: -0.54 (5th)
YDS/TGT: 3.9 (8th)
QBR Against: 24.4 (4th) pic.twitter.com/cP6Jrv0KqP
— No Flags Film (@NoFlagsFilm) March 16, 2022
Should everything go as planned, a cornerback group that was once widely considered a liability could now go about four deep with former top-100 picks.
If the Titans are going to have any chance at reaching their Super Bowl aspirations, they’re likely going to have to heavily rely upon on this extremely talented defense to lead the way.
Mike Vrabel is still the head coach
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
This is a massive one towards giving the Titans the benefit of the doubt.
Tennessee has the reigning NFL Coach of the Year in Mike Vrabel, who is coming off a season where he helped stabilize a Titans team that turned an initial 53-man roster into an NFL record 91 total players used last year.
— Tennessee Titans (@Titans) May 18, 2022
Tennessee still went on to win 12 games and the division by over three, and it secured the No. 1 seed in the AFC. However, as we all know, the fairytale ending wasn’t meant to be.
The fortunate part is, despite some of the notable departures on this team, the Titans still have their most important piece of the puzzle in their head coach, who ultimately steers the ship.
Vrabel will have the opportunity to validate the moves the team made this offseason, and they will need him to produce another coaching clinic if the Titans are going to have a legitimate chance in 2022.
A two-team race for the AFC South
Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports
Despite what you may hear on national media outlets, the AFC South has run through Tennessee for the majority of the last three seasons.
Nevertheless, just like every other year, the Colts are talked about as if the division is going to be a cakewalk for them, even though they haven’t won the “weak” AFC South since 2014.
The Titans and Colts made key moves this offseason that undoubtedly closed the gap from the 3.5-game differential that Tennessee won the division by last year.
Nonetheless, competing for a Super Bowl will be a tall task in 2022, but once the Titans are in the tournament, anything can happen in a one-game playoff.
Fortunately for the Titans and Colts, the other teams in the division are in the midst of rebuilds, which means this will probably be a two-team race once again.