If the Tennessee Titans are to have a successful 2022, it’s about figuring out a roster which can win in the playoffs.
Everything lined up for the Tennessee Titans.
They had every star healthy for the playoffs. They beat the Kansas City Chiefs and Buffalo Bills in the regular season, helping to earn them the No. 1 seed in the AFC and home-field advantage throughout the postseason.
Then, it all fell apart in a 19-16 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals in the Divisional round. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill threw three picks, and despite sacking counterpart Joe Burrow nine times, Tennessee was gone without a playoff victory for the second consecutive year.
Entering the offseason, hard questions must be asked of the Titans.
For starters, is Tannehill enough? He’s gotten to the AFC Championship Game with Tennessee, beating Tom Brady and Lamar Jackson on the road during that 2019 run before losing to the eventual-champion Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes. However, that ride was powered by a stingy defense and an all-time stretch by running back Derrick Henry.
In 2020, Tennessee won the AFC South but was one-and-done, falling at home to the Baltimore Ravens. Then, this year. Another division title, another quick exit.
Currently, general manager Jon Robinson has work to do. The only major pending free agent is Pro Bowl edge rusher Harold Landry, but with Tennessee sitting $8.3 million over the salary cap, retaining him is tricky. The Titans could use the franchise tag, but if they do, they’ll need to clear roughly $25 million just to be cap compliant. In this regard, they can cut corner Jackrabbit Jenkins and linebacker Zach Cunningham, saving $17 million. From there, an extension or restructure gets it done.
Still, is that enough? For the Titans, running it back with this same cast likely brings a playoff berth, but anything more seems a borderline pipe dream. Tennessee has been to the postseason with regularity under head coach Mike Vrabel, but the next step needs to be taken.
Robinson likely figures the path to improvement is in the NFL Draft, where Tennessee should be targeting help along the offensive line and in the secondary. Also, it makes sense to take Tannehill’s eventual replacement if the Titans love any of the quarterback prospects, should they slide.
Tennessee has a good team, and one that figures to be playing into January. Getting to February is the problem.