Following a disappointing home playoff loss to the Cincinnati Bengals in which Ryan Tannehill threw three interceptions, many people were calling for a new Quarterback. Due to salary cap reasons among other things Tannehill is back as the Titans QB. Head Coach Mike Vrabel has stated in the past that the way the supporting cast around Ryan Tannehill performs is just as important as Tannehill’s performance when determining a successful offense. Let us look at what additions and subtractions occurred this offseason in Ryan Tannehill’s supporting cast.
Starting with the subtractions the biggest one would be WR AJ Brown who was dealt in a draft night stunner. Fellow star although often injured WR Julio Jones was released for salary cap reasons. An underrated loss was RB D’onta Foreman who signed as a free agent with the Carolina Panthers. Foreman was a big part of the Titans offense when Derrick Henry went down last year. Starting TE Anthony Firkser left as a free agent to join former Titans offensive coordinator Arthur Smith with the Atlanta Falcons.
While the Titans suffered some losses in the supporting cast, they did add some talented parts as well to the cast. In what may have been the best move of the offseason the Titans traded for Rams WR Robert Woods. The Titans aquired Woods for just a 2023 sixth round pick. Before suffering a torn ACL in November, Woods was the number two WR for the Super Bowl Champions. Woods recorded a first down on 65% of his receptions in 2021.
Woods was joined by TE Austin Hooper whom the Titans signed from the Cleveland Browns. While Hooper was a free agent disappointment with Cleveland after signing from Atlanta in 2020, he will be a major upgrade from the Titans 2021 TE’s. He brings a big redzone target in which the Titans were missing following Jonuu Smith’s departure prior to last season.
The additions did not stop there, the Titans used the first-round pick in the AJ Brown trade on WR Treylon Burks. Burks has some elite tools of size and speed like AJ does. Burks development will be extremely important to the Titans 2022 success and beyond. Derrick Henry was not an addition technically but getting him back for a full season after missing eight games last year is huge as well. There is a clear difference for Tannehill when he has Henry next to him and when he doesn’t.
After investigation the verdict is in on whether the parts around Tannehill are better or worse. The determination is that Ryan Tannehill’s supporting cast has improved from last season. When AJ Brown was traded it would’ve been farfetched to imagine the supporting cast improving from 2021.
AJ is a massive loss for Tannehill as he has been who Tannehill has relied on when it mattered most. No one guy will be able to replace that by themselves. Between Woods, Burks, and Hooper together they are capable of replacing it as a unit. Not having a reliable TE along with the injury to Henry certainly made things challenging for Tannehill last season. Tannehill has had his best offseason as a member of the Titans in his most important offseason since arriving in Nashville.
Simply put this is a make-or-break year for Ryan Tannehill. The salary cap roadblocks preventing the Titans from cutting ties with Tannehill this offseason will not be there in 2023. With the supporting cast that has been assembled, if Tannehill struggles like he did at times in 2021 he will not have anyone to blame other than himself. The Titans know what they have in their elite defense and it is time to see if Tannehill can lead them to where they want to be.