The Titans were well on their way to another ground-and-pound berth into the playoffs, sitting at 7-3 midway through the season. They had even survived Ryan Tannehill's two-game absence because of an ankle injury. Things quickly went off the rails with four straight losses under Tannehill before he reaggravated the ankle issue. The middle of this stretch featured A.J. Brown, who was traded away by Tennessee in the offseason, torching the Titans so thoroughly that GM Jon Robinson was fired. Malik Willis looked out of his depth as a starter and the team desperately turned to Josh Dobbs to defeat the Jaguars and secure a playoff spot. Dobbs conceded a sack-fumble to give Jacksonville a lead they would not relinquish in the final minutes of Week 18.
Key Offensive Stats
- Points per game: 17.5 (28th)
- EPA per play: -0.07 (25th)
- Dropback EPA per play: -0.03 (23rd)
- Passing yards per game: 171.4 (30th)
- Rush EPA per play: -0.1 (26th)
- Rush yards per game: 125.4 (13th)
The second half of the Titans' season was spent praying Ryan Tannehill would get or stay healthy. Those prayers fell on deaf ears, making the team's season-long stats look terrible. Before Tannehill went down the first time, Tennessee's offense was better but still struggling. Shockingly, it was Derrick Henry who wasn't up to the task. The bruising back averaged exactly four yards per carry through seven weeks and didn't have his first 100-yard game until Week 4. For his lofty standards, this goes down as a disappointing start. He would ultimately turn things around en route to 96 yards per game, second-most in the NFL. Tannehill's downward trend toward mediocrity continued in 2022. He ranked 17th in the league in EPA per play and 13th in completion percent over expected. Still, going from Tannehill to Willis was downgraded by all metrics and forced the Titans to abandon the pass entirely. Though the Titans would almost certainly have made the playoffs had Tannehill stayed healthy, his declining play left the team with more questions than answers.
Key Defensive Stats
- Points per game: 21.1 (14th)
- EPA per play: 0.02 (21st)
- Dropback EPA per play: 0.12 (28th)
- Passing yards per game: 274.8 (32nd)
- Rush EPA per play: -0.2 (1st)
- Rush yards per game: 76.9 (1st)
The Titans had the league's best run defense by a considerable margin. That only gets a team so far in the modern NFL. Opponents simply chose to not run against them. Tennessee faced the highest pass rate over expected in the league. No defense had a larger gap between their rush EPA allowed compared to their pass EPA allowed. The Titans' defensive line was the star of the show against the run and pass. Four different players recorded at least five sacks. Denico Autry got to the quarterback eight times and DeMarcus Walker was strong against the run, tallying 10 TFLs. Tennessee's corners were a problem for the defense. None of the Titans' cornerbacks who played at least 250 snaps ranked inside Pro Football Focus's top 70 corners in coverage grade.
Draft Picks (Top-150)
11th, 41st, 72nd, and 149th
Notable Free Agents
TE Austin Hooper, TE Geoff Swaim, RG Dennis Daley, RG Nate Davis, LB David Long, S Andrew Adams, and DT Teair Tart
EDGE Bud Dupree ($9.4 million in savings)
The Titans already made the bulk of their cuts. They moved on from Taylor Lewan, Robert Woods, Randy Bullock, and Zach Cunningham. The moves saved them $37.8 million.
With Lewan out of the picture and Dennis Daley only worth re-signing as a backup, the Titans are down to two young players, Nicholas Petit-Frere and Dillon Radunz. Both players have struggled as professional tackles so far.
Treylon Burks flashed as a rookie but is by no means a lock to be the Titans' future WR1. Even if he is, Tennessee has next to no talent behind him on the roster.
Tennessee got most of their production on defense from the line and will need to replace Dupree with a new pass-rushing linebacker. This spot could have been corner, but the Titans may opt to bank on growth from their youth at cornerbacks instead of re-investing.
The Titans made a slew of changes to their staff following the weak performance on both sides of the ball. The most notable of them came on offense where offensive coordinator Todd Downing was relieved of his duties. He was replaced by Tim Kelly, the Titans' passing game coordinator. Kelly had previously served as an offensive coordinator for the Texans. During his time in Houston, Kelly also rubbed shoulders with Titans head coach Mike Vrabel, who was on the Texans' staff before leaving for Tennessee. The Titans also landed Falcons quarterbacks coach Charles London. London drew some interest around the league as an offensive coordinator candidate but ultimately landed with the Titans as their next pass game coordinator.
The Titans quietly committed to Vrabel mid-season by firing their general manager, granting Vrabel a larger say in the organization. They have since hired 49ers director of player personnel Ran Carthon, though Vrabel's power undoubtedly increased over the past year. It's hard to blame Tennessee's owners for this move. The Titans have not found a Pro Bowl player in their past three drafts. Their past six classes have yielded three Pro Bowl players. Only one of them played a snap in a Tennessee uniform in 2022. The lack of young talent positions them to jettison Ryan Tannehill and his pricey contract, but Vrabel has dragged this roster to four winning seasons and three post-season appearances in his five campaigns. It's hard to argue against the Titans spinning the draft lottery again and hoping they come out with better luck this time around. With even a bit of positive variance from the 2023 NFL Draft, Vrabel should be able to get his team back into the postseason.