In our first installment of winners and losers from the entire 2022 season, we’ll take a look at the most notable Tennessee Titans players who will be on both sides of the aisle (or somewhere in between).
The Titans’ offense was generally terrible in 2022, with no “ifs,” “ands,” or “buts” about it. Here’s a look at the team standings:
Total yards: 30
Adding yards: 30
Running Yards: 13
Points per game: 28
big yuck. Even the Titan’s strength, the fast attack, was not a normal elite in 2022.
Thank the football gods, the Titans finally made up their minds fire Todd Downing, which some would say was a season too late. Fans have been calling for his head since 2021 and I can’t say I blame them.
Tennessee had no shortage of losers on offense last season, but there were also glimmers of hope to talk about. Let’s take a look at who the biggest winners and losers were in the Titans 2022 campaign.
Winner: QB Joshua Dobbs
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Dobbs did a lot to help himself during the two starts he made with the Titans at the end of the season. He didn’t win any, but he showed he’s a capable backup who should be on an NFL roster in 2023.
Expect Dobbs to return to Nashville next season with a chance to compete for the backup job against Malik Willis.
Loser: QB Ryan Tannehill
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The Titans failed Tannehill this year. Admittedly, he wasn’t perfect, but he didn’t have an offensive line and a wide receiver corps in front of him. it was among the worst in the NFL.
It’s no surprise that the offensive line led to Tannehill getting beat up, something we’ve seen in years past, but this time it led to an injury to the veteran starter, which really doomed Tennessee’s season.
The Titans almost owe it to Tannehill to give him another season with a better team around him. Of course, none of this works that way, and Tennessee will probably explore its possibilities during the off season.
But don’t be surprised if Tannehill restructures and returns for another year. That could end up being the best route for the cash-strapped Titans to free up the most cash to improve the team.
Between: RB Derrick Henry
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There were plenty of pundits writing Henry’s obituary at the start of the season, saying the superstar running back may never be the same after his injury-shortened 2021 season.
However, Henry proved the doubters wrong behind arguably the worst offensive line in football.
Henry still managed to run for 1,538 yards and 13 touchdowns, both second in the NFL. He also had a career year as a pass catcher, posting a personal-high 33 catches for 398 yards.
The downside of Henry’s season came in the turnover department, where he lost three (he had six total) fumbles, all of which came in two key games against the Jacksonville Jaguars and Houston Texans.
Head coach Mike Vrabel even mentioned Henry’s nagging issues after the team’s season-ending loss to the Jaguars.
It’s full steam ahead for Henry in 2023 with the Titans, but it’s only fair to start thinking about the future with the King turning 30 next January and entering the final year of his contract.
Loser: QB Malik Willis
Distribution: The Tennessean
We’ve always known Willis would take a year to develop, but that hasn’t stopped some fans and the media from going into a complete panic over the rookie signal-caller — and at least some of the concern is justified.
After all, not only did the offense get far worse with Willis under center instead of Tannehill, but the rookie was outplayed by Dobbs, who was with the team all eight days before passing him on the depth chart.
It’s hard to really know if the move to Dobbs was the Titans giving up on Willis or if it was just a game-winning move with the writing clearly on the wall that Dobbs gave Tennessee the best chance to win at that point.
What we do know is that the Titans simply cannot play Willis as the starter in 2023, which was the hope when Tennessee drafted him. Instead, the Titans will let him compete for a backup job behind an established veteran and hope he shows enough to eventually hand him the car keys.
Winner: TE Chig Okonkwo
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Chig has been one of the few bright spots in the Titans’ offense this season, and it only took them until Week 9 to start featuring him regularly.
Despite Todd Downing sleeping behind the wheel with his top playmaker in the passing game, the explosive rookie still managed 450 yards and three touchdowns, leading all first-year tight ends in both categories.
That total was also the most by a Titan tight end since Delanie Walker posted 807 in 2017.
There are so many cool stats from Chigo’s first season, but here’s the one that jumps off the page the most: Okonkwo had 2.61 yards per route, which ranks third in the NFL and among wide receivers and tight ends.
The only two to finish with a higher score? Tyreek Hill of the Miami Dolphins (3.0) and Justin Jefferson of the Minnesota Vikings (2.62). Now that’s impressive company.
With his special combination of speed and strength, Okonkwo has star potential. Now the Titans have to find a way to increase it.
Loser: WR Robert Woods
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When the Titans brought in Woods, he was expected to be the No. 2 to AJ Brown. However, as we know, that didn’t work out and instead, Woods was thrust into the No. 1 role, at least for the start of the season.
And that didn’t work. Not only did Woods have trouble getting open, a problem that existed throughout the receiving corps, but he struggled with drops to the point where we cringed every time the ball was thrown to him.
As the season progressed, Treylon Burks became the clear No. 1, although Woods continued to get the most snaps. The veteran ended up leading the team in receiving yards, but that doesn’t say much for this group.
I tend to believe that this year has been outstanding for Woods — who has always been a good player — and that he will be better next year, but the fact that he turns 31 in a few months is another reason to worry about his future.
Hell likely to be cut this off season.
Winner: WR Treylon Burks
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Depending on how you look at his season and the context you add, Burks could be a winner or somewhere in between. Let’s go with the first one.
The Arkansas product got off to a rough start last offseason thanks to conditioning issuesand he missed six games during his freshman season, two of which were due to concussions from illegal hits.
When he was on the field, it was clear that Burks was a difference maker and the Titans best receiver in the game, and he showed us flashes of the exciting ability he possesses when the ball is in his hands.
Granted, the production wasn’t anything to write home about and he didn’t put up the numbers Tennessee needed after the Brown trade, but I’m not sure anyone could have in this offense.
After all, Burks was in an offense that was broken, with a terrible quarterback who underutilized him and an offensive line that made it difficult to throw the ball.
The Titans definitely have something in Burks, and I can’t wait to see what that looks like across the board when Tennessee’s offense is performing at a competent level.
Loser: Titans offensive line
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I’m not really sure there’s a single striker who comes out of 2022 as a winner when you consider everything.
Dennis Daley was the worst left tackle in the sport and won’t be back with this team in 2023. Along with him, Aaron Brewer was bad, and while he didn’t go completely unnoticed, he definitely had coverage from Daley.
At the very least, the Titans should shoot the left side of their offensive line into the sun. Brewer is the only apparent redeemable value, but he’s only a backup, not a starter.
At right tackle, Nicholas Petit-Frere was about what you’d expect from a third-round draft pick stepping into a starting role. I’m not completely blown away by it yet, but I’m more optimistic than not that it will be good.
Nate Davis had a solid season overall, but the free agent also missed five games due to injury. Ben Jones was brave as usual, but he suffered two concussions that ended his season early and now puts his future in doubt.
Overall, the first group was tied for the fifth most sacks surrendered in 2022, and Daley tied for the NFL mark with 12 allowed.
Taylor Lewan suffered a torn ACL for the second time in his career and is likely gone. Dillon Radunz will be back, but he also has to recover from a torn ACL and the jury is still very much out on him after getting hurt the second time Tennessee FINALLY gave him an injection.
With NPF the only player fully fit for next season, the Titans could be looking at a complete rebuild of their offensive line, which is actually a welcome proposition after what we all had to witness in 2022.
However, if Tennessee can keep Davis and Jones returns for another season, Vrabes and the new general manager will only have a left tackle to replace, a far less daunting task.
Winner: TE Austin Hooper
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Hooper was another player Downing apparently didn’t realize he was until halfway through the season. However, from Week 7 onward, the veteran tight end was among Tennessee’s most reliable pass catchers.
He finished tied for fourth on the team in receiving yards, but was undoubtedly the No. 3 option through the air behind Chigo and Burks.
Hooper is one of the Titans’ 34 free agents in 2023, and the team should want to bring him back to pair with Chiga.
Loser: Todd Downing
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Downing did almost everything wrong while he was offensive coordinator. In fact, I can only think of one thing he did really well, and that was include Derrick Henry in the passing attack.
Other than that, it was a disaster. Downing’s play-calling was predictable and just plain bad, he didn’t use his best weapons enough, and he was even arrested for DUIwhich happened to come after one of his better games.
Sure, Downing didn’t have much to do in 2022, but there was never a point where we could say he increased the offense in any way over two seasons.
In fact, it was quite the opposite, as his play calling was detrimental.
Downing is now out of a job, and chances are he won’t sniff another major role like offensive coordinator for the rest of his career after what the world witnessed when he ran Tennessee’s offense.