Ten years. Ten years of rebuilding. Ten years of disappointment, anger, frustration, and multiple different quarterbacks under center. Quite frankly, it’s been a rough decade for Titans fans. But on a positive note, the past three seasons have been full of roster construction, indicating that the future is finally illuminating.
Although the roster has gone through some disappointing changes in the last three years alone, there are some players who will set the league on fire this season and help the Titans propel towards the elite status, surprising a lot of critics.
1. Jurrell Casey
He’s a behemoth on the defensive line, a Pro Bowler, and a force to be reckoned with. He’s never let Titans fans down. This is a guy who signed his contract with the Titans, not because of money, but because he wants to be here and win here. This is his second year under the defensive guru Dick LeBeau, and I can almost promise you LeBeau will use him to his fullest potential. His first year under the defensive mastermind was a good one. He had 54 tackles and seven sacks.
2. Delanie Walker
The other Pro Bowler on the roster, Delanie Walker, is considered to be a huge steal by Tennessee. He was picked up from the 49ers in 2013 and finally hit his prime with Tennessee in 2014. He is a huge target for Marcus Mariota, when he’s healthy, and he’s nowhere near done yet. He’s expected to have another career year in 2016, and there’s no reason why he shouldn’t. He’s coming off 1,088 yards receiving in 2015, with 94 receptions. Six of them were touchdowns. The Titans will beef up the offensive line to make sure Mariota has enough time to get the ball to his reliable target.
3. Jason McCourty
He was injured for most of last season, but he has been a true lockdown corner for the Titans. McCourty rarely sees the ball thrown his way because whenever there is a pass in his direction, he usually swatts down or intercept it. A full season under LeBeau should help McCourty burst into an elite CB in the NFL.
4. Marcus Mariota
His rookie season wasn’t that great. Fans tend to compare his success to Winston’s, who won the Rookie of the Year award. What they don’t know is Mariota found a way to break NFL and franchise records on a struggling team that lacked talent and motivation. He threw for 19 touchdowns, 10 interceptions and 2,818 yards. Many people believe there will be tremendous growth from his rookie year to his second year in the NFL. If you’re skeptical of that, don’t be. The future’s bright for Mariota.
5. DeMarco Murray
He admitted it himself: he ‘took a year off’ with Philidelphia last season. This was mostly because Chip Kelly and the Eagles misused his talents by pretty much forcing him to run from the gun. That got him only 702 rushing yards and six touchdowns. That is not DeMarco Murray football. Titans head coach Mike Mularkey is fully aware of Murray’s weapons and what he’s good at, and is confident it fits in well with the system he’s implementing in Tennessee.
6. Antonio Andrews
He didn’t disappoint in 2015. The rookie running back returned from injury and took the spot of Bishop Sankey, then ended up rushing for 520 yards and three touchdowns. He did nothing but impress the head coach, submitting himself as the true starter at running back. This season, he obviously won’t start, but I believe he will thrive behind Murray. Not to mention he’ll learn a lot from the veteran running back.
7. Dorial Green-Beckham
He didn’t hit the rookie wall in 2015; he ran right through it. He will continue skyrocketing in 2016. The second-year receiver only got better last year. No one else would take a chance with him, but the Titans did. That means his ultimate mission is to prove one team right and 31 other teams wrong. That mission starts this season.
8. Kendall Wright
I feel bad for Wright. He’s such a gifted athlete on a dismal team, which means he hasn’t had many opportunities to show his talents and be that go-to receiver he was destined to be. That ends now, though, as he will have a break out year in 2016. Like I mentioned before, the offensive line should be beefed up, which will give Mariota more time to find his targets.
9. Brian Orakpo
Another free agency steal for Tennessee? Yes. A few Redskins fans have told me Orakpo has had good years followed by bad years, and that it will continue in Tennessee. I disagree. He will no doubtedly thrive under LeBeau. He had a phenomenal year after leaving Washington for the Titans. He had 51 tackles and seven sacks. His dominance will continue, and don’t let a Redskins fan tell you otherwise.
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