The legal tampering period of free agency starts Monday, March 14. It will be here in no time. So it’s time to take a look at the state of the Titans’s roster is currently at, and what could be in store for the future.
To do that we are going to use tried and true method of analysis used in business, a S.W.O.T. analysis. For those not familiar with this I will keep it simple a S.W.O.T. analysis analyzes the strength, weakness, opportunities, and threats to either a business, strategy, product, etc.
For analyzing the Titans position groups, I will be selecting one thing to highlight under each category:
- Strength: What is the main strength of the position group heading into 2022
- Weakness: What is the biggest weakness of the position group heading into 2022
- Opportunity: What’s an area of opportunity that the position group can improve upon, or an opportunity the team can exploit to improve
- Threat: What is an external or internal threat to the position group that can bring them crashing down
Today let’s to start with the Quarterback group.
There has been no hotter and divisive topic that divides this fan base than the quarterback room of the Tennessee Titans. Think about it, since McNair, this fan base has been at its each other throats for the majority of years about this one position.
From who’s to blame for Vince Young’s failings, for Mariota’s, and now for 2021 Tannehill’s, this fan base cannot agree on anything other than the quarterback play for 2022 has to be better.
Despite going 12-5 as a team, Tannehill had his worst season as a Titan, and yet based on EPA it was still his third best season of his NFL career. The team struggled offensively to find any consistency and chemistry. The main weapons of the offense were in and out of the line up in the regular season, and failed to build chemistry in the offseason due to health as well.
On top of that an uncreative offensive system compounded the problem, and the offense was not put in a position to succeed. However, Tannehill is the main reason the Titans did not beat the Bengals and have a shot at the Super Bowl. His play must improve.
- Positional Spending: $39,565,000 (5th highest)
- Top Cap Hit: Ryan Tannehill: $38,600,000 (18.29% of cap)
- Under Contract: 2
- Ryan Tannehill: 2 years left
- Kevin Hogan: 1 year left ($965,000 cap hit)
- Pending Free Agents: 1
- Logan Woodside: ERFA
Is the Woodside era done in Tennessee? He has been absolutely dominating the back up competition in the offseason, much to the dismay of Mike Herndon.
Woodside is an exclusive-rights free agent. He has only been active for 6 or more games for two seasons so far in his NFL career, thus if he is tendered by the start of free agency, he is stuck with the Titans on a minimal deal. If the Titans do not exercise their ERFA tender, he is becomes a free agent.
Obviously the Titans have their starting quarterback for the 2022 set in stone barring some miraculous trade by Jon Robinson, but the biggest question about this position group going into the start of free agency is who will the back up be.
Whether you love him or love to hate him. Ryan Tannehill has proven to be a quarterback that has been available. He has not missed a game for the Titans since becoming their starter in 2019. That is a good thing.
After years of Young, Locker, and Mariota, this has been a god send and allows for at least some sort of stability at the position. That stability allows the team a level of comfort for game planning on Sundays even when other positions fail to stay healthy.
The ability to stay healthy, allowed Tannehill to keep the team afloat, somewhat, throughout the 2021 season. While he is the reason they did lose games, think of the amount of games this team would’ve lost had he gotten injured and Woodside was the quarterback.
Since 2019, he’s one of four quarterbacks to play a minimum of 20 games, since becoming the starter, and not miss a game. It’s a strength for this position group and this team to be able to depend on its starting quarterback to be there on game day.
Ryan Tannehill showed zero consistency throughout his 2021 campaign. In fact, you can say that has been the problem with his entire Titans career. Let me explain.
While Tannehill has been great in the regular season in 2019 and 2020, he failed to elevate the team to a win when they needed him the most in the postseason. Inconsistent. Then everyone saw he was not only inconsistent in the regular season, his postseason performance was bad too.
So did Tannehill’s regular season performance regress in 2021? Yes. Will he continue that in 2022? Hard to tell. I am of the belief that it will be a bounce back year for Tannehill, especially with Tim Kelly directing the passing game into a more modern era.
However, while the regular season performance gets you to the playoffs, will he still show signs of inconsistent play in the postseason? That’s the biggest question, and if he does that is a massive weak spot for this team.
Opportunity: The Next Guy
As of this writing, the only back up for the Titans on the roster is Kevin Hogan. Whether that changes with free agency or in the draft, everyone can agree it is time to think about the next guy, a massive area of opportunity.
Despite what gas bags on the radio say, that next guy is not Carson Wentz, there isn’t a quarterback rehab facility. Despite what fans think, the next guy is not some future HOF quarterback that the Titans trade for.
The next guy needs to be found in the draft and groomed to be Tannehill’s successor for the team to have any long term success. While this year’s draft has an over abundance of supply of quarterbacks that can play at the NFL. The quality seems to be lacking in these prospects.
Recently, our very own NoFlagsFilm put out a video of his top-10 quarterbacks in this year’s draft. I think the line between starter and career back up is very thin in most of these prospects, so the Titans would have to be supremely confident in their assessment of these guys.
Outside of surprisingly drafting Luke Falk in 2018, we’ve never seen this team really scout quarterbacks. What do they feel a quarterback has to have, and what they think they can build on, is something we don’t really know.
Would they draft a raw prospect like Malik Willis? Super inconsistent, but has a rocket arm and athletic ability? Or do they play it safe with someone like Desmond Ridder, who has improved over time, and played in pro style offense with Mike Vrabel’s best friend Luke Fickell in Cincinnati?
The guy I am pounding the table for, which means he won’t be drafted by the Titans or he will probably just suck, cause thats my luck, is Aqeel Glass. He has the size, the arm, the accuracy, and the athletic ability. I think he is a much more polished passer than people realize.
Whoever the guy is, even if this lackluster quarterback class, if they have someone that they deem their guy, they need to do everything in their power to secure him in this draft. If they don’t have that guy, they can always wait, but the problem with waiting is that there is a 90% chance you would have to trade up for a quarterback in 2023 and that is going to be expensive.
Speaking of waiting the biggest threat to this quarterback group is complacency. I have been saying for weeks that the offensive philosophy has to be fixed to get this team over the playoff hump. While the hiring of Kelly signals that they aren’t complacent with the passing game, that doesn’t mean the philosophy is changing.
Vrabel is going to have to be willing to get out of his comfort zone and allow his offensive staff more freedom and creativity in their process. He should learn from Mike Zimmer’s mistakes in Minnesota. The pass game has to be able to work and not rely on the success or failures of the run game.
Luckily, Kelly has never had a functioning pro level rushing attack, so he knows how to make a passing game work when the run game is amateur level. Tannehill also can’t get complacent in how he approaches the offseason.
One of the biggest gripes I have had about the Mariota era, is that he never once wanted to change his approach to the offseason. Now, Tannehill has already shown he’s a different guy than Mariota. In fact, Tannehill is known for the offseason work he puts in year in and year out on his own time.
However, it’s time for Tannehill to get himself and Julio Jones in the same city and getting on the same page, because right now those two look to be here in 2022, and they need to build up their chemistry in the offseason. (Editor’s Note: spare me the Post-June 1st stuff, teams rarely use this method of cutting/trading players)
The team also can’t be complacent if a trade option opens up in the market for a better quarterback. The chances of this are super slim, as has been talked about ad nauseam to this point, but if somehow you get the chance to trade for a Russell Wilson, Aaron Rodgers, or even coaxing Tom Brady out of retirement and trading for him, you have to take it.
Lastly, this team can’t be complacent with their back up situation. As, explained above I hope they find their guy via the draft, but the back up spot needs to be upgraded. There is no one in this free agency quarterback group that can push Tannehill, but there are guys that on the off chance he is injured can come in and help this team win games.
Complacency in the quarterback room from multiple levels can kill this team’s chances in 2022 and beyond.
Whether you like Tannehill, irrationally love him, or want to throw him in the furthest pits of hell, he is your quarterback for 2022. He has stabilized the quarterback position with his durability and efficient play, but he has to become more consistent with his level of play.
The Titans also need to have this happen, but also take the opportunity to build with the future in mind. The offense has to flow through AJ Brown, but the next quarterback needs to be found quickly and his weapons need to be in place for the foreseeable future.
The Titans cannot have this passing attack take a back seat. It needs to be explosive and functional, and also the way thee position group is managed needs to be at the forefront. No more time for a complacent attitude if you want to make a Super Bowl and then keep the Super Bowl open with a new signal caller.
When it comes to the quarterback room, what do you think the S.W.O.T.’s are? Leave a comment below!