Detroit Lions 2016 Opponent Preview: Tennessee Titans

Dec 13, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota (8) in the huddle against the New York Jets during the first quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 13, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota (8) in the huddle against the New York Jets during the first quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports /

We check in on the Detroit Lions’ week two opponent, the Tennessee Titans, as both teams prepare to report to training camp.

After starting the 2016 season on the road against the Indianapolis Colts, the Detroit Lions get their home opener in week two against the Tennessee Titans.

To check up on the Titans, I got together with Titan Sized‘s Will Lomas. Below are my questions followed by his answers.

1. How would you assess the Titans’ offseason? Did they do what they needed to do through the draft and free agency?

It is hard to look at the Tennessee Titans offseason and not call it a success. The Titans had a big issue protecting the quarterback last season, but that was a function of the line as a whole rather than one person. They saw this and added a new starter at center (Ben Jones) and right tackle (Jack Conklin), as well as competition at left guard with the addition of Sebastian Tretola and the move of Jeremiah Poutasi from right tackle to his more natural left guard position.

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Aside from that, they made another impressive move by adding two very capable running backs in the offseason that can carry the load. DeMarco Murray is a perfect fit for what the Tennessee Titans are wanting to do. Similarly Derrick Henry is coming off of a season where he showed that he can out run and over-power some of the best NFL prospects in the nation.

Other additions like Rishard Matthews and Tajae Sharpe at wide receiver, and Rashad Johnson and Brice McCain at defensive back should be instant starters on this team.

Now, it wasn’t all great. New General Manager Jon Robinson failed to get a real impact player at cornerback which was a question mark, because he prioritized protecting his most important asset first. Still, drafting players like Austin Johnson and Kevin Dodd make sense from a value stand point, but that caused the Titans to miss a need position.

2. Which rookie are you most excited to see play in 2016 and why?

This is tough. The former offensive linemen in me really wants to see Jack Conklin come in and do some great things. He is a bully who plays with heavy hands and rarely loses as a run blocker no matter what the assignment.

However, you can’t look at this rookie class and not be excited to see the 2015 Heisman trophy winner Derrick Henry get some snaps. If this offensive line can open holes for him, he has shown that he is just a strong back with great deep speed, who is a load to tackle.

3. What is the biggest question that still needs to be answered heading into training camp?

Who will win the left guard battle? I know this is the least climactic answer for those outside of the fan base but everything else is potentially there for the Titans. The defense was good not great under Dick LeBeau and that was without the top corner playing.

So, with Jack Conklin, Chance Warmack, Ben Jones, and Taylor Lewan all looking like above average starters on the offensive line, if someone can decisively win that left guard job the offensive line may finally have cohesion. A good offensive line blocking for DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry on the ground, and Marcus Mariota through the air could make this team dangerous and fun to watch.

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4. What are your expectations for the Titans in 2016?

My expectations for this team is 6-10 this year, but more importantly I expect them to have an identity. A team that doubles their win total while becoming a hard-nosed running team with the arrow pointed up is exactly what I hope and expect.

5. Right here, right now, are you marking down the game against the Lions as a win, loss or toss-up for the Titans?

I am going to mark it as a toss up. After losing Calvin Johnson, the offense become much easier to focus on. I think Jason McCourty will cover up the #2 receiver (Marvin Jones) and Dick LeBeau will bracket Golden Tate and bring pressure against a young front.

On offense, I expect Ziggy Ansah to get a lot of attention from Craig Stevens and Taylor Lewan. Lewan has the athleticism to stick with most edge rushers, but Ansah is special and will get special attention.

I could see a young offensive line struggle and screw up Marcus Mariota, but I could also see the team getting into rhythm on the ground and hitting some nice chunk plays. At the end of the day, if Marcus Mariota has time in the pocket I think he can beat this defense and win the game. However, that was never a given last year so I can’t be confident it will happen this year until I see it.

Next: Checking in on the Indianapolis Colts

For more on the Tennessee Titans, head to Titan Sized.