Last season, the Titans did something that’s not easy to do — they finished behind the Jaguars in the standings, coming in last place in the division with just two wins. The Titans ended up with the second pick in this year’s draft, selecting Oregon QB Marcus Mariota, who they hope can get them out of the basement and lead them to a much improved season in 2015.
Three different quarterbacks started a game for the Titans last season, as Jack Locker, Zach Mettenberger and Charlie Whitehurst combined to throw for 3,731 yards and 20 touchdowns. There was a similar split at the running back position. RB Bishop Sankey started just nine games but led the team with 569 yards and just two touchdowns. The receiving game was led by TE Delanie Walker, who topped the team in receptions (63) and yards (890). He also caught four touchdowns. WR Kendall Wright was the best pass-catcher at his position, catching 57 balls for 715 yards and a team-high six touchdown receptions. Overall, the offense ranked 30th in the league; the defense wasn’t much better, as it ranked 29th.
When you go 2-14 in the NFL, there’s really only one direction to go the following season, and that is up. The Titans hope a couple of their draft picks will help them do that. In addition to Mariota, who is expected to be the starting quarterback at the start of the season, the team drafted WR Dorial Green-Beckham and RB David Cobb in the second and fifth rounds, respectively. The three rookies give the team a lot of upside this season, but there’s also risk if they get off to slow starts in their first NFL action. Sankey is an example of the risk involved with playing a rookie, as he did not live up to expectations people had for him in 2014.
The Titans begin their season with a matchup of the top two picks in this year’s draft, as they travel to Tampa to take on No. 1 pick Jameis Winston and the Buccaneers. Elsewhere on their schedule, they don’t play many games against teams that made the playoffs last year. Other than their usual two games against the division-rival Colts, the Titans have a home game against the Panthers and a road game at the Patriots. Regardless of the schedule’s difficulty — or lack thereof — it’s the lack of established talent that will hurt the Titans this season. They’ll be better than they were last year, and could get up to five or six wins, but I don’t think they’ll end up with any more than that.