Throughout the 2016 season, the Tennessee Titans decided to implement an offensive system that was centered around the running game and the play-action passing game. For instance, during the first two downs of a series, Marcus Mariota would hand the ball off to Demarco Murray or Derrick Henry in an attempt to force the opposing team to stack the box and set up a manageable third down. If the strategy is successful, the Titans would call a play action pass where Marcus would fake the handoff and go in the opposite direction to throw the ball to the flat or the corner route five to ten yards down field. However, on occasion, Marcus would fake the handoff to freeze the defense momentarily that allowed the receivers to get some separation as they try to complete a slant, in or out route. As a result of this, the Titans offense can stay on the field for a longer period, which means that the opposing team had less time to feast on their defense. In fact, according to teamrankings.com, the Titans offense was on the field for an average of “30:31” thus the defense was on the field for 29:29. This strategy helped the team attain its first winning season since 2011 as they went 9-7.
Due to the overwhelming success of last season, I expect the team to implement a similar offensive system with one minor tweak this season. The team has an opportunity to let Demarco Murray go after the season without affecting their future cap space. According to pro football talk, Murray signed a “revised four-year deal” that “has a base value of $25.5 million, with $12.5 million guaranteed” before last season. The guaranteed portion of the contract was split between 2016 and 2017 as he was given $6 million last year and the rest this year. As a result, the team will most likely increase the number of carries given to Derrick Henry to see if he’s capable of being a number one running back. If he can, they will release Murray and use the remaining money in other areas but if he struggles Murray stays.
Even though, Demarco Murray is probably going to see less action early in the season due to the evaluation of Derrick Henry, it shouldn’t have a big impact on the team’s success.