Getting a more productive offense in 2019 is clearly a huge goal for the Titans. The team finished 23rd in yards per play in 2018, with an average of 5.3 yards per play. The Chiefs finished first in this category with 6.7.
Even in their last three games—with a focus on Derrick Henry going beast mode—Tennessee finished 19th in yards per play during this stretch (5.1, tied with the Panthers). On the bright side, at least they weren’t the Jaguars, who finished third last in yards per play on the entire season (4.8, only the Bills and Cardinals were lower).
And yes, there is a stark contrast in the home/away splits. Tennessee tied for 14th in yards per play at home (5.7) while tying for the seventh worst mark on the road (5.0).
In comparison, let’s see how previous seasons in the Marcus Mariota era look. From 2015-17, the Titans finished 27th, 10th, and 18th in yards per play respectfully. That 2016 season was a simpler time when Mariota was establishing himself as a young star in the league, then in 2017 it all went downhill once Mike Mularkey’s offense was exposed as holding back the offense. And unfortunately, that number became worse in Matt LaFleur’s sole season with the Titans.
So what does this mean? Well, more yards doesn’t necessarily mean better (just ask the 2012 Lions), but this was a team hampered by Mariota’s injuries while leaning more on the run game and defense in the last quarter of the season. The passing offense was mostly nonexistent thanks to said QB setbacks, a poor offensive line, and a limited group of receivers (made worse with Delanie Walker’s injury in Week 1).
This is why the additions of receivers Adam Humphries and AJ Brown, as well as linemen Rodger Saffold and Nate Davis, are big. There’s clear upgrades on the offensive line and Mariota gets more weapon in addition to more time in the pocket. He’s essentially in a contract year, unless he gets an extension before the season starts, so the hope is he’ll stay healthy enough for Tennessee’s offense to succeed.
And the yards per play could go up as well, so this is a stat to keep an eye on.