My Take on the Most Underrated Tennessee Titans
A few weeks ago, a story or two about the most underrated Tennessee Titans were floating around the Titanverse, as is the norm this time of year. Hell, there’s not much else to write about. So, I figured I’d weigh in with my opinion on who the most underrated Titan is on offense and on defense. Let’s start with the offense, where Ben Jones was SI’s choice.
Anyone with a mechanical understanding of the Titans’ offense understands how difficult it is on the interior lineman to block the scheme effectively. Last year, Jones did it better than almost anyone. Jones has only missed one game in his career, and in 2019 he was graded Pro Football Focus’s second-best center. NFL GSIS stats show that the Titans ranked fifth in the league in runs straight up the gut, averaging almost nine yards per carry. Also the gaps immediately to Jones’s right and left fared pretty well too.
No gripes with this one, to be honest. When you think of the Titans offense, you’re usually thinking Derrick Henry, A.J. Brown, or Ryan Tannehill. Even if you narrow it down to the offensive line, you’re thinking about Taylor Lewan. If not Lewan, it was Jack Conklin, and the rock star set of book end tackles that they have. Or, it was the big money acquisition of Rodger Saffold. Even at right guard, Nate Davis and his development was a huge topic of discussion after he was drafted in 2019. All the while, Jones was lost in the shuffle.
And yet, all he’s done since coming to the Titans is serve as an absolute rock on that offensive line. The Titans haven’t really had to worry about the position at all recently. One thing I’d add that SI didn’t mention is Jones’ versatility. The guy has the savvy and experience to step in wherever he’s needed along
But, on defense, I have a difference of opinion with the fine folks at Touchdown Wire. Courtesy of Touchdown Wire:
The real key to improvement in this area is the continued development of Harold Landry, who led the Titans with 66 total pressures. The 2018 second-rounder from Boston College has the potential to do even more, and he showed that early in his NFL career.
Maybe in terms of the “national” conversation, Landry is the guy. But, I don’t get the sense that Landry is underrated at all by the Titans fan base. We love that dude, the Bend God, and praise him accordingly. He has the tools to develop into one of the best pass rushers in the league, and Nashville recognizes that. But, Touchdown Wire, I’ll give you that he might not be appreciated in that same manner across the country.
Among Titans fans, I think Rashaan Evans is the more underrated guy. After struggling a bit out of the gate, Evans has emerged as one of the integral pieces on defense, and at least in this Titans writer’s opinion, is now on a trajectory to becoming the next great Titans inside linebacker. I dare say, that the Titans haven’t had a pairing like Evans and Jayon Brown…maybe….ever. I’m just spitballin’ here (if you have a better pair, please….hit me up).
He started 16 games in 2019, and tallied 111 tackles, eight quarterback hits, 2.5 sacks, nine tackles for loss, a deflected pass, and of course, the big scoop and score against the Kansas City Chiefs. Who can forget that? He’s developed into a solid overall player. His run defense grade ranked 9th among linebackers with at least a thousand snaps in 2019, per Pro Football Focus. Who can forget the goal line stands against the New England Patriots in the playoffs?
My take? If Evans can improve as a pass defender, and demonstrate the same range in coverage that he did at Alabama, he’ll become one of the best and most well rounded linebackers in all of the NFL.
Stoney Keeley is the Editor in Chief of The SoBros Network. He is a strong supporter of Team GSD and #BeBetter. “Big Natural” covers the Tennessee Titans, Nashville, and a whole wealth of nonsense. Follow on Twitter @StoneyKeeley