Last Dance for Henry and Tannehill? And: Indianapolis can hope again
Today with two teams from the AFC South: While the Titans look into an uncertain future, the Colts can hope for a much better season.
Compared to the fragile offense, the Titans’ defense is reasonably solid. That, of course, is due to coach Mike Vrabel, whose expertise clearly lies in defense. It’s quite possible that he’ll even lift the unit to a top 10 level again. On the positive side, safety Kevin Byard will likely remain part of the secondary after the pay cut; his departure would have further weakened the Titans. Truth be told, the 2022 roster was ravaged by injuries. Many of these professionals are now fit again. The roster has talent, with tight end Chig Okonkwo and receiver Treylon Burks among those who showed signs of it in 2022.
Ryan Tannehill, 35, and Derrick Henry, 30 – the heart of this offense is simply too old. That may work again this season, but in the long run, the Tennessee franchise needs to figure something out for the future. Especially when you consider that Henry comes primarily through his physicality, his brilliant career has a near expiration date. For far too long, Nashville has relied on the brilliant running back. They drafted Will Levis in the second round in the draft for a reason, as they also desperately needed to trade up at the quarterback position. In addition to age, the expiring contracts of the two should also be noted, with both Tannehill and Henry becoming free agents in 2023. The franchise didn’t exactly advertise itself with the pay cut of top performer Kevin Byard. Looking at the rest of the offense, the picture is grim. The receiving corps is far too weak, and the team lost too many players overall in the offseason.
Motto of the season: Titans fans buckle up, we expect turbulence. Tennessee will try to squeeze everything out of the few top players they have left. Will that be enough to make a difference in the AFC South?
The Eagles made it all the way to the Super Bowl in 2023, luring offensive coordinator Shane Steichen to Indianapolis – definitely not a bad move. Consider, for example, how Steichen developed QB Jalen Hurts. It’s quite possible he’ll do the same with rookie Anthony Richardson. Both players have incredible talent and the right athleticism, especially on the ground and in the pocket. Above all, the Colts could use the unpredictability of a new starter to their advantage, at least early in the season. Steichen will almost certainly rely on a run-heavy offense, and with top-notch RBs Jonathan Taylor and Zack Moss, as well as Richardson, that makes total sense.
As much as Richardson impresses on the ground, his completion rate is still lacking. In college, it was under 60%. A value that urgently needs to be raised in order to have a half chance in the NFL. The trade of cornerback Stephen Gilmore leaves a drop of bitterness, but the strong draft has sufficiently stocked up at this position. Much of the Colts’ roster makes sense now, but it probably won’t really unfold for another year or two. Therefore, don’t expect a playoff run in 2023 just yet.
Motto of the season: Finally hope in Indy again: With Steichen and Richardson, a lot is possible, but whether 2022 will be the year of the Colts is questionable.