The Titans have completed their first off-season under new General Manager, Jon Robinson. While he made some big time moves, and has provided the fanbase with hope, we are all waiting on actual production. This summer, training camp will show whether or not we will actually see it. With not much time left, we will take a look at a different topic each remaining day, until things get started.
Saying that the Titans' offensive production last season was poor is an understatement. While we have already touched on how the offensive line and wide receivers brought the unit down, we will now shift our attention towards the ground game. Each week, the Titans failed to establish a run game. This has a trickle down effect on their entire offense, as we have seen since about 2010. As Mike Mularkey took over and a run-heavy philosophy was prevalent, the failures of the run game were more on display than ever.
While the Titans wanted to run teams over last season, they did not have the personnel to make this happen. That being said, Jon Robinson and Mike Mularkey have made it their mission to establish this as the team's identity. By making key additions to the offensive line in Ben Jones and Jack Conklin, the line should be ready to do its part. That being said, two of the biggest additions this offseason were Demarco Murray and Derrick Henry at running back. The entire room has been beefed up by two big backs, and the Titans are now equipped to implement their "Thunder and Thunder" backfield. With Mike Mularkey insisting on Dexter McCluster having a role in the offense and on the team, the question begs, who will the 4th running back be, assuming there will be one?
The competition is essentially going to come down to Antonio Andrews, David Cobb, and Bishop Sankey. All have their pros and cons, so there are two things to keep an eye on this summer: who makes the best case to make the roster, and can the Titans receive any form of compensation for any of the other backs? Andrews was the most prodcutive back out of these three last season. That being said, he was scrutinized and even benched towards the end of the season under Mike Mularkey. Also, his running style is somewhat similar to Murray's and Henry, and he would not provide much of a change of pace. David Cobb also struggled last year, had less production, and has not been able to stay in shape. To this point, the promise has not really been on display yet. He will need to have a big camp in order to stay on. The only back out of the three who provides a change of pace is Bishop Sankey, who could barely find his way onto the active roster on Sundays last season. He will need to show a new coaching staff why he deserves to be on the roster, and what he can bring to the offense.
This camp is absolutely vital for all three of these running backs. While all have had their struggles during their time in Nashville, they have a fresh slate with a new coaching staff, and could carve out a role with this team. Another thing to keep an eye on is the open market. The Titans are first in line when it comes to the waiver wire, and if none of these players step up, a little competition might not hurt. Also, with a crowded backfield and some relatively high draft picks in recent years at the position, some other teams may be willing to give up a late draft pick for one of these backs. Just like Andy Levitre last year, getting something when you would have gotten nothing is always a great move. With Jon Robinson's negotiating tactics, a trade is certainly not out of the question. In just a few weeks, we will be able to see who stays, and who goes.