The Tennessee Titans aren’t good enough to dismiss a head coach who won nine games in 2017 and led the club to its first playoff appearance in nearly a decade. But that’s exactly what they did by giving Mike Mularkey his walking papers and bringing in former New England linebacker Mike Vrabel. A three-time Super Bowl champion during his playing days, Vrabel has more championship rings than head coaching victories, but the Titans are hopeful that success on the field translates to the sidelines in 2018.
Tennessee Titans Opening Futures Odds at BookMaker.eu
Tennessee Titans Over 8 Wins -113
Tennessee Titans Under 8 Wins -107
2018 Tennessee Titans Offense Preview
Under Mularkey the Titans used a devastating ground game to produce nine wins in two straight seasons. However, his inability to adapt a new game plan to take advantage of Marcus Mariota’s skill set was his undoing. One of Vrabel’s first hires was Matt LaFleuer, who takes over the offense after successful stints with the Rams and Falcons. LaFleur helped the Rams go from the lowest scoring team in 2016 to the highest last year, working with Jared Goff. He was also Matt Ryan’s quarterback coach in Atlanta during Ryan’s MVP season.
Mariota is the face of the franchise, but he looks to rebound after the worst season of his pro career. While the accuracy remained high at 62 percent, Mariota saw his touchdown passes slip from 26 to 13 in 2017 while the interceptions increased from nine to 15. The passing game will be aided by a healthy Corey Davis, who missed time his rookie season after being selected with the fifth pick in the 2017 draft. Rishard Matthews and Delanie Walker are reliable options. Derrick Henry has the backfield to himself now that DeMarco Murray is gone, but Dion Lewis will fill in as a third-down option.
2018 Tennessee Titans Defense Preview
The revamped coaching staff has a new coordinator on this side of the football as well. Dean Pees was ready to enter his golden years before Vrabel tossed out the olive branch. Less than a month after retiring from the Ravens staff, Pees accepted the gig in Nashville and is now the elder statesman. He’s also a Super Bowl winning coach, doing so with Baltimore following the 2012 season. A group of athletes on that side of the ball along with a strong draft class will make Pees happy about his decision.
The group is led up front by Jurell Casey and the return of DaQuan Jones from injury makes the line strong. The linebackers got younger and stronger thanks to the additions of Rashaan Evans and Harold Landry in the draft. Landry was a sack artist two seasons ago at Boston College collecting 16.5, but he was slowed by injuries in 2017 and slipped to a second-round pick. After his exile from New England, Malcolm Butler joins a solid secondary that includes Adoree’ Jackson, Logan Ryan and last year’s interceptions leader Kevin Byard.
2018 Tennessee Titans Schedule Analysis
It was tough to figure out the Titans last season. They dominated within the division going 5-1 with their only loss to the Deshaun Watson-led Texans. And that sweep of the Jags was pretty special. There were also a few confounding losses, like the one to Miami, and the one to Arizona, and the one to San Francisco. In other words, it was an inconsistent year.
Winning five of six games within the AFC South is going to be difficult this time around. The Jags are equally sound and the Colts and Texans should be much better. With the East Divisions cycling through this year the Titans catch a break with New England and Philadelphia at home. But the end of the season could be what does the Titans in with four of their final five games on the road.
The Final Verdict
A repeat of last season should be the absolute floor for the Titans. On paper they have an improved and diversified offense and the defense has the talent to be special. Everything hinges on Mariota and after a rough regular season, he started to put things together in the playoffs throwing for 459 yards with four touchdowns. He also showed off his skills by running for 83 yards and catching a touchdown pass.
We should see Mariota do what he does best under the new regime and a more successful offensive approach will help a defense that ranked 13th in yards allowed per game. The Titans won nine games in each of last two seasons and getting there again will put them over the win total. And they’ve done enough to get there.
NFL Betting Odds: Tennessee Titans Over 8 Wins
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