While the summer season brings much enjoyment to the average person, for an NFL fan, it represents a desolate wasteland where Sundays just aren't quite as vibrant as in the autumn months. However, with each passing day, we inch closer to the beginning of the 2023 NFL season, which officially kicks off on September 8 this year.
Whether you've had your favorite team's tweet notifications turned on all summer or if you've decided to tune out all football news entirely, you'll be able to learn everything you need to know about your team going into the 2022-23 season right here.
In today's article, I'll be discussing the Tennessee Titans.
I'm working on season guidebooks for all 32 NFL teams, which will all be released within the next few weeks. To check out another team's guidebook, click here:
2021 Season Recap
The Titans sneakily put together an excellent regular season in 2021. Despite a couple of really bad losses to the Jets and Texans, they consistently beat all the best teams on their schedule en route to winning the division and clinching the number 1 overall seed in the AFC. However, even though their defense managed to sack Joe Burrow nine times in their first playoff game in the Divisional round, Tennessee fell to Cincinnati 16-19, making for a very disappointing end to their season.
Despite Derrick Henry missing nine games with a foot injury in 2021, the Titans were still one of the best rushing offenses in the league. Through the air, it was a different story, and that ultimately cost them in the playoffs. Their defense made a significant jump from 2020 and while they struggled at times against the pass, they tended to bend rather than break and were good at forcing turnovers and preventing points.
Significant Roster Moves
This graphic is somewhat startling to Titans fans, as Tennessee lost way more big names than they added, particularly at receiver, offensive line, and linebacker. They traded star receiver A.J. Brown to the Eagles on draft night, and also lost the often injured Julio Jones to make things worse. O-linemen David Quessenberry and Rodger Saffold went elsewhere in the offseason, as did Jayon Brown and Rahsaan Evans from the defense.
Tennessee's only two sizable additions through free agency were WR Robert Woods and TE Austin Hooper, giving a couple much needed potential pass catchers to the Ryan Tannehill led offense.
2022 Draft Class
The Titans had nine selections in this year's draft, taking an assortment of guys to fill multiple holes as both starters and backups. Receiver Treylon Burks is expected to step up and be a primary target in the passing game early, as will Kyle Phillips, though to a slightly lesser degree. Roger McCreary, Nicholas Petit-Frere, and Chigoziem Okonkwo add much needed depth to their respective positions, and Hassan Haskins is another big running back to be paired with Derrick Henry, and QB Malik Willis will learn under Tannehill and can potentially become Tennessee's quarterback of the future. How soon he gets his opportunity will depend on Tannehill's success in 2022.
The Titans will take on the AFC West and the NFC East to go along with their six divisional games. Their other three opponents are the Buffalo Bills, Green Bay Packers, and Cincinnati Bengals. With an opponent prior season win percentage of .471, Tennessee has the 8th easiest schedule in the NFL.
Tennessee's primetime games include two Thursday night games at Green Bay and versus Dallas, a Sunday night game at Kansas City, and a Monday night game at Buffalo.
The Titans return 17 of their 22 starters from a season ago, including 10 of 11 on defense. With how good the defense was in 2021, it's safe to assume that they'll pick up close to where they left off despite losing some of their backups on that side of the ball.
We'll see how the receiving corps clicks, but I would guess the Titans will rely more on the run as they have since Derrick Henry has been there. Ryan Tannehill is the obvious starter at the moment, but if he starts struggling early in the season, we could see Malik Willis get a shot under center as well.
Mike Vrabel enters his fifth season as Head Coach of the Titans, a position in which he has succeeded thus far. Todd Downing and Shane Bowen both enter their second season in their respective coordinator positions, while Craig Aukerman enters his fifth as Special Teams Coordinator.
Oddsmakers have set the regular season win total for Tennessee at 9.0 games. As of right now, the Titans are the second most likely team to win the AFC South and the 9th most likely team to win the AFC. At +4000 to win the 2023 Super Bowl, they are tied for 16th among all teams in the league.
Bucket Squad Predictions
I actually think the Titans will exceed expectations of the sports books and will finish at 11-6 in 2022. Tennessee has just somehow found ways to win under Mike Vrabel in recent seasons by keeping the ball on the ground and forcing turnovers in opportune moments. However, I think Tennessee finishes 2nd in their division behind the Colts, who I think are slightly better from top to bottom. Regardless, I expect the Titans to make the playoffs as a wild card team and attempt to avenge last season's early exit this time around.
What do you think? Will Tennessee be better or worse than I'm projecting? What offseason moves made by the Titans surprised you the most? Leave a comment down below and be sure to check the "NFL" section of the website for more NFL team guidebooks as I finish them.
Written by Nick Swatson
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Expert Nick Swatson discusses all the news, predictions, and outcomes surrounding the NFL.