For the second year in a row, the Raiders will travel to Nashville to take on the Titans. Last season they came out with a hard fought 24-21 victory. They are in better shape now than they were then, but so too are the Titans.
Titans 2015 numbers:
Offense ranking: 30th
Defense ranking: 12th
Believe it or not, three wins for the Titans was actually an improvement. They finished 2-14 in 2014 (appropriately enough). That record was bad enough for them to have the second overall pick and they used it on University of Oregon quarterback, Marcus Mariota.
As is often the case, Mariota had an up and down rookie campaign. In 12 starts, he put up 2818 passing yards along with 19 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Over 16 games, that would figure out to 3757 passing yards, 25 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions. For comparison, Derek Carr as a rookie put up 3270 passing yards, 21 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions. Pretty comparable numbers. They even had the same win total (3).
Should Mariota make the same jump in production as Carr did in his second season, the Titans could be much more than the 3-win team they were last season. Helping that cause greatly will be last year’s leading receiver Delanie Walker who was third in the league in receiving yards among tight ends and one of just four tight ends to surpass 1000 yards (1088).
The defense was much better than the offense last season. And it should have been, considering the pass rushing talent they employ. They had 39.0 sacks as a team. Leading the way were Brian Orakpo and Jurrell Casey who both had 7.0 sacks. Derrick Morgan and Wesley Woodyard applied good pressure as well, with 9.5 sacks between them.
Their offseason moves were weighted toward the offense and getting Mariota some help. For those moves and the current state of the Titans, we got help from the talent over at Music City Miracles.
Notable free agent additions: C Ben Jones, WR Rishard Matthews, S Rashad Johnson
Notable free agent departures: S Michael Griffin
Trades: Acquired DeMarco Murray
Draft picks expected to contribute as rookies: OT Jack Conklin, DE Kevin Dodd, RB Derrick Henry
Biggest offseason addition: DeMarco Murray
Biggest storyline heading into training camp: Can the Titans make “exotic-smashmouth” an effective way to score points in 2016? They are committed to power football. The NFL has moved to a pass happy game. Defenses are playing more and more nickel and dime. The Titans think they can take advantage of this by going with a power lineup.
Under-the-radar storyline heading into training camp: Ray Horton moved on this offseason. That leaves Dick LeBeau as the man calling the shots on the defensive side of the ball- most people thought LeBeau was calling the shots last year. It turned out he wasn’t. How much different will the 2016 version of the defense look?
Notable injuries heading into training camp: 2nd round pick Kevin Dodd had foot surgery in May. He is supposed to be ready for camp. Derrick Morgan is also still recovering from shoulder surgery.