Nashville, TN – Perhaps Tennessee Titans executive vice president/general manager Jon Robinson’s two most critical moves since the AFC Championship game were locking up a pair of the team’s own free agents with new, multi-year contracts—quarterback Ryan Tannehill and running back Derrick Henry.
Tannehill, acquired in a trade with the Miami Dolphins, was a catalyst for the team’s resurgence in 2019, taking control as the starter in Week 7 and finishing the campaign with a league-best 117.5 passer rating. He was named to his first Pro Bowl and voted the NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year.
Henry won the NFL’s rushing title with 1,540 yards on 303 attempts (4.8 avg.). His 16 rushing touchdowns put him in a tie with the Green Bay Packers’ Aaron Jones atop the league leaderboard and placed second in franchise annals.
Over his final nine games—six games in the regular season plus three playoff appearances—Henry totaled seven 100-yard performances.
In addition to being selected to his first Pro Bowl, he garnished second team Associated Press All-Pro recognition and the FedEx Ground Player of the Year award.
The Titans’ leading receiver in 2019 was rookie A.J. Brown, a second round pick. Brown finished first among all NFL rookies in receiving yards (1,051), and he tied for the rookie lead in touchdown receptions (eight).
Among all players, his 20.2-yard receiving average ranked second (20.4 by Mike Williams). At the conclusion of the season, Brown finished third in AP Offensive Rookie of the Year voting.
In total, the Titans return 10 of their 11 regular offensive starters from last season. The lone exception is at right tackle, where veteran Dennis Kelly and Isaiah Wilson are expected to compete.
The offensive coaching staff remains intact, as Arthur Smith enters his second year as offensive coordinator after an impressive debut. The 2019 Titans ranked third in the NFL in rushing (138.9 yards per game), first in red zone efficiency (75.6 touchdown percent), fourth in yards per play (6.12) and tied for third in total touchdowns (54).
Over their final 10 games (Week 7-17), they ranked third in both scoring (30.4 points per game) and total offense (406.2 yards per game).
The vast majority of key contributors on defense return as well. The unit’s major statistical leaders in 2019 were safety Kevin Byard (five interceptions), outside linebacker Harold Landry III (nine sacks) and inside linebacker Rashaan Evans (139 tackles), and all three are back in their same roles.
The defense does face significant changes to its leadership structure, however. After running the defense for two seasons, during which time the Titans finished second in the NFL in points allowed per game (19.3), former defensive coordinator Dean Pees announced his retirement on January 20th.
Additionally, the Titans have hired a new secondary coach and a new inside linebackers coach. Veteran coaches Anthony Midget and Jim Haslett were picked by coach Mike Vrabel for those respective positions.