Projecting Receptions by Position: AFC South

Tennessee Titans v Pittsburgh Steelers

Tennessee Titans

2017 Totals
Marcus Mariota: 281 completions on 453 attempts
WR Group: 151 Receptions
RB Group: 44 Receptions
TE Group: 86 Receptions

2018 Projections
Marcus Mariota: 320 completions on 500 attempts
WR Group: 170 Receptions
RB Group: 70 Receptions
TE Group: 80 Receptions

I think it’s safe to say that the exotic smashmouth experiment didn’t quite work as expected. The Titans did pretty well overall making it to the divisional round of the playoffs, but that was largely on the strength of the severely underrated defense. Mariota had the worst season of his young career by a long shot, and the Titans rightfully brought in a new offensive coordinator as a result. The choice of Matt LaFleur is a risk as he has no experience calling plays or even being the top offensive guy on his own team. However, he’s been following Kyle Shanahan and Sean McVay around, so if he can design and call a similar offense then the Titans are in for one heck of an offensive resurgence. Given a floor of “inexperienced guy has no business taking over” and a ceiling of 2016 Falcons or 2017 Rams, I’m going to aim somewhere in the middle; about 320 completions on 500 attempts for Mariota.

The interesting thing to watch this season will be how LaFleur implements his offense. The Shanahan and McVay offenses rely heavily on WRs, a fair amount on RBs, and kinda use TEs as an afterthought. Assuming LaFleur tries to mimic his mentors, that balance does not fit this Titans team. The WR group lacks depth and star power and is largely comprised of high-potential unknowns (looking at you Corey Davis). In the RB room, Dion Lewis is certainly a capable receiver out of the backfield but Derrick Henry has struggled. The TE group, meanwhile, is the strongest receiving group on the team, featuring Delanie Walker and Jonnu Smith. Given this disparity between talent and presumed scheme, there are a wide range of outcomes that the Tennessee offense could produce this season. I’m taking a cautiously optimistic approach. There will be growing pains, especially in the WR corps, that will limit the ceiling of this offense. However, given his mentors I’m going to assume that LaFleur will have enough flexibility to build around and maximize the talent he has.

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