By Ron Wynn
NASHVILLE, TN — As training camp ended last week, expectations for the Tennessee Titans are dramatically higher than they’ve been in several years. This season finishing 9-7 and sneaking into the playoffs as a wild card will not be considered a successful year. At minimum, the club wants a return to the AFC championship game, and at best winning the Super Bowl. Wresting the division title away from the Houston Texans and getting a home playoff game are primary objectives, and to achieve them the Titans must address some questions that, if left unresolved, will probably prevent them from reaching their goals.
The first concerns establishing a reliable and consistent kicking game. For several years they’d enjoyed that with Ryan Succop, but injuries derailed his season and ended his Titans’ tenure. Succop and Cody Parkay were just two of the four different kickers who combined to make only eight of 18 field goal attempts. The Titans were dead last in the NFL in both conversion percentage and successful kicks, a horrendous figure for a below average team, and certainly not one any contender can accept. Greg Joseph didn’t attempt a field goal during the season, but was one for one in the playoffs. He did convert all 19 extra point tries. He’s locked in a battle for the job with Tucker McCann, while there are also reports that the Titans are considering former longtime Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski, a four-time Pro Bowler or Stephen Hauschka, recently released by the Buffalo Bills. But at press time the situation remained unsettled.
A second unresolved question was the status of recently signed free agent Vic Beasley. Beasley didn’t report on time, finally showed up, but has yet to practice. There’s also the question of who will be the backup QB, Logan Woodside or recently signed Trevor Simian. Then there’s former first round draft pick Corey Davis, who’s entering his contract year. Despite showing flashes of greatness throughout his time with the Titans, there hasn’t been enough consistency demonstrated for the Titans to offer him an extension. He’ll be a free agent following this year, and a big season would certainly be to his and the Titans’ advantage. Likewise, another below average year might result in not just a new address, but trouble finding a team.
With preseason games cancelled due to COVID-19 pandemic worries, if the NFL season begins on time the Titans open at Denver Sept. 14. They play only one home game the first month, which will be minus fans per Mayor Cooper’s decree. That game is against Jacksonville Sept. 20.