Tennessee Titans 2015 Season Preview

24
Aug

2014 Record – 2-14

Key Additions

QB Marcus Mariota (Marioto), WR Harry Douglas, LB Brian Orakpo, LB Derrick Morgan, K Ryan Succop, TE Anthony Fasano,  CB Perrish Cox, OT Byron Bell, WR Hakeem Nicks, OT Jeremiah Poutasi

Key Departures

WR Nate Washington, OT Michael Roos, OT Michael Oher, S Bernard Pollard, QB Jake Locker, LB Kamerion Wimbley, RB Shonn Greene

Breakdown

Over the past decade, the Titans have a history of tall outside-of-the-pocket passers with varied amounts of success. With the likes of the late Steve McNair and Kerry Collins, Tennessee has manufactured several great regular seasons only to lose early in the playoffs. More recently, the Titans have faced the QB carousel that most bottom of the pack teams see in today’s NFL. Drafting three quarterbacks in the past five drafts puts you in a bad spot when attempting to stabilize a transitioning offense under a new head coach. The Titans believe they have that now in Marcus Mariota, another versatile quarterback who can operate in the pocket but also extend the play with his feet.

With FIVE (count em), five receivers with exceptional speed and experience, Mariota should be able to find open targets and move the ball downfield. The running game is in year two with Bishop Sankey, who was one of the least productive starting RBs in the league in 2014. There will be a point that Coach Ken Whisenhunt will need to make sure Mariota knows that he doesn’t have to save this team with his feet.

X-Factor – Taylor Lewan

An offensive lineman you say? Yes, the blind side, left tackle. Lewan was the Titans’ 2014 first round pick and will have a huge impact in protection. Whisenhunt has Zach Mettenberger in his back pocket if Mariota’s health becomes an issue, but as long as Lewan continues to trend upwards the Titans should see 16 games out of Mariota. That’s huge when it comes to selling tickets and getting Nashville excited about football once again.

2015 Breakout Player – Marcus Mariota

I’m having trouble fully jumping on the bandwagon. Mariota was suggested as the less risk option leading up to the draft over Winston. Throughout camp he’s been showered with praise about his lack of mistakes. Yet, I feel Vince Young lingering on my brain here. Young’s first two seasons were better than people remember. Up until a few years ago, he was backup to Vick on the Eagles 2012 dream team. He’s fallen far and I hope Mariota doesn’t see the same fate. Along the lines with Young’s progression, I think Mariota could have a great first season.

Best Case

10 wins. Wins in the division are crucial at this juncture for the Titans. An early home game against Indianapolis will test Mariota and the defense, but road games against below-500 teams like Tampa Bay and Cleveland will give them some confidence prior to that game. The schedule is beyond favorable, especially with a defense that can keep teams to less than 20 ppg.

Worst Case

5 wins.  I see the floor being higher for this team purely because Whisenhunt will figure out a way to win games even if the team fails to mesh as a unit and keep the defense off the field.

Key Game

vs.Carolina Week 10 The Titans have an early bye week, so this will be one of those games that the team will either hit its stride or flop due to lack of energy and/or frustration. Carolina’s defense will still be oppressive and this may be one of those days we see Mariota out of the pocket and doing things with his legs like we remember at Oregon.

Projected Record 8-8

About the author: Daniel Hoogenboom

Growing up on Tobacco Road, college basketball runs in my veins deeper than the two times a year Carolina and Duke get together. Although March may be the best three weeks in sports, later in the Springtime brings the season I live for -- the professional golf majors. Through all that spectating, this North Carolina native breathes the competition that match play rounds bring between my Dad and I beyond all else.