After a miserable 2-14 season in head coach Ken Whisenhunt’s first year, the Tennessee Titans took some steps in the offseason to build the franchise. The Titans had the second pick in the 2015 NFL Draft and selected Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota, a talented quarterback out of Oregon. Tennessee also signed two veteran wide receivers in Harry Douglas and Hakeem Nicks and also picked up tight end Anthony Fasano in the free agent market. The Titans biggest offseason move, however, did not involve a player. Instead, it involved the hiring of long time NFL assistant coach Dick LeBeau.
The Hall of Fame player and coach was the architect of the Pittsburgh Steelers defenses of the last decade. Whisenhunt, a former Pittsburgh offensive coordinator, hopes that LeBeau can bring some of that Steeler mentality to the Tennessee Titans. Despite the big name hiring of LeBeau, sportsbooks aren't expecting much of a change from the Titans this season listing Tennessee as 200/1 longshots in Super Bowl predictions, 100/1 to win the AFC Conference and +1600 in NFL odds to win the AFC South.
The Titans were awful on defense last season finishing 31st in the league against the run. It is well known that if a team is not successful defending the run, they most likely will be sitting at home come playoff time. Tennessee wound up 27th in total defense and 29th, giving up 27.4 points per game, in scoring defense. LeBeau and his defensive staff will need that to change. Tennessee did not make many moves on defense but did sign former Redskins linebacker Brian Orapko. He’ll start opposite Derrick Morgan with Avery Williamson and Zach Brown, who missed last season with an injury, on the inside. With LeBeau in charge, the Titans defense should be more active and defend the run much better. Even so, NFL odds for the total regular season wins predict that Tennessee will only have 5½ for the season.
The question on offense revolves around the 6-4, 222-pound Mariota. After excelling in an up-tempo, spread offense, he needs to make the adjustment to drop-back NFL quarterback. It will take time for Mariota to develop and some time for the offense to gel. A big part of the offense coming together and making a run at the 2015 AFC South title will focus on the running game. A go-to back needs to emerge. Bishop Sankey was somewhat of a disappointment in his rookie season. Shonn Greene and David Cobb, a fifth-round pick this year out of Minnesota, will also get a crack at becoming the guy in the backfield.
Titans Update (9/11/15): Tennessee are now +20000 favorites in Super Bowl predictions, +7500 to win the AFC Conference and +1600 to win the AFC South.