The Analytics Of The Titans in Houston, And Of Their Top Draft Pick

Titans HuddleBy JAKE DOWNARD

Jake Downard is a law student who creates NFL and NBA content focused on analytics on Twitter as @JakeAndBall. He also works with fanspo.com. A glossary of the analytics terms he uses is at the bottom of the piece.

For a glossary of the metrics and terms used in this post, please see this earlier file.

If you want a perfect microcosm of the 2023 Tennessee Titans, look no further than the Week 17 matchup with the Houston Texans. This one had everything. Will Levis and Ryan Tannehill were pressured on seemingly every drop-back. The offensive line struggled with everyone from Will Anderson Jr. to Teair Tart, giving up six sacks on the day. The Titans were a miserable one for 12 on third downs. The run game was non-existent at times. The red-zone offense was as expected, and the red-zone defense was somehow ironclad. Before we get into the analytics, let’s discuss a few quick positives.  


Harold Landry recorded yet another sack, bringing him to 10.5 on the year, good for 16th in the NFL. Believe it or not, the Titans are the only team in the NFL with multiple players (Denico Autry, Landry) who have 10.5 sacks in 2023. 

Landry has recorded 5.5 sacks since the beginning of December, good for second in the league, and eight tackles for loss, the most in the NFL, in that same period. As the 2023 season winds down, the Titans have to feel good about the resurgence of Landry, who really changes things for the front four as a unit. With Autry turning 34 in the offseason, it will be interesting to see if the Titans extend him after his outstanding 2023 campaign. If so, a healthy core of Jeffery Simmons, Landry, Autry, and Arden Key up front would be a great start to rebuilding the defense, especially the secondary behind them. 

DeAndre Hopkins and Derrick Henry eclipsed 1,000 receiving yards and 1,000 rushing yards, respectively. Hopkins, who has proven to be a great addition, is just the 23rd highest-paid receiver in football. He has proven to be an outstanding target for Levis, and I would certainly expect him to be back next year. With league-leading cap space and blue-chip draft capital in the first two rounds, it will be interesting to see who the Titans bring in as a No. 2 target to pair with Hopkins. 

Henry, on the other hand, is averaging just 3.9 YPC in 2023 and on an expiring deal. With Tyjae Spears averaging more YPC and recording 49 catches so far, Henry’s future in two-tone blue is certainly in question. Will the Titans re-sign him on a team-friendly deal, or will they look elsewhere for a RB to pair with Spears in 2024? And does he want to be back if he has an intriguing alternative?

Let’s get into the debacle that took place in Houston on Sunday. Levis and Tannehill combined for 25 targets, and here’s how they were distributed. 

  • DeAndre Hopkins: 7 targets (28%)
  • Tyjae Spears: 6 targets (24%)
  • Chig Okonkwo: 4 targets (16%)
  • Chris Moore: 3 targets (12%)
  • Treylon Burks: 3 targets (12%)
  • Kevin Rader: 1 target (4%)
  • Derrick Henry: 1 target (4%)

Tannehill completed 16 of his 20 attempts for 168 yards. Levis was just two of six for 16 yards when he went down with another injury early in the second quarter. His stat line would have looked much better had Burks come down with the deep shot on second-and-6 less than a minute into the game. There is nothing worthwhile to take from Levis’ seven dropbacks, as that sample size is far too small to make any real conclusions on how he played. Here’s how Tannehill graded out in some of the advanced figures we’ve used to paint a clearer picture of the Titans throughout the season.

  • EPA/Play: -0.121 (27th of 32)
  • Success Rate: 42.3% (21st of 32)
  • CPOE: +13% (4th of 32)
  • Air Yards / Attempt: 3.7 (32nd of 32)

Since stepping in for Levis in Week 16, Tannehill ranks 34th among 35 qualifying QBs in Air Yards / Attempt. His CPOE (+9.6%) over that same period simply does not offset the fact that he is throwing the ball just 4.3 yards down the field on average (see Desmond Ridder). You can be as accurate as Drew Brees on the screens and check-downs, but when there is no threat of beating the defense down the field, the offense becomes one-dimensional, the run game suffers, the defense can pack the box and we’re right back to square one. In sum, the offensive line does not give Tannehill enough time to throw it downfield, and Tannehill is not taking advantage when he has time, nor moving enough to buy time to throw it downfield. 

With one week left in the season, the Titans currently hold the seventh overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft. The lowest they can possibly drop is eighth. If you are planning on rooting for draft positioning this weekend, here’s your guide: 

The Titans, Chargers, and Giants are all tied at 5-11, with the latter two teams currently holding the tiebreaker over the Titans, picking fifth and sixth, respectively. The tiebreaker is based on strength of schedule. Since these three teams are tied when it comes to record, you most definitely need to be rooting for the Chargers at home against the Chiefs, and the Giants at home against the Eagles. 

While I do not anticipate the Chiefs resting starters, it is worth noting that they are locked into the No. 3 seed no matter what happens this weekend against the Chargers. The Giants, on the other hand, just took the red-hot Rams down to the wire and lost a heartbreaker, and the Eagles no longer control their own destiny in the NFC East. Another note: each of these teams plays at home this Sunday. In sum, if the Titans lose, and the Chargers win, the Titans move up one spot. If the Titans lose and the Giants win, the Titans move up one spot. 

(There are additional scenarios where the Titans and Chargers both lose, and the Titans move up due to strength of schedule. They are extremely complicated, but to keep it simple, just root for teams that the Titans have played this season that the Chargers have not played, and vice versa). 

The Cardinals are another team to watch on Sunday. They are coming off a win against the Eagles, and they host the Seahawks who just dropped a game to the Steelers. They’ve got a clear edge over the Titans when it comes to strength of schedule, and they would almost certainly draft behind the Titans with a Cardinals win and Titans loss on Sunday. According to Playoff Status, here are the Titans' chances of landing in each respective draft spot: 

  • 8th overall: 15%
  • 7th overall: 36%
  • 6th overall: 26%
  • 5th overall: 18%
  • 4th overall: 4%
  • 3rd overall: <1%
  • 2nd overall: <1%

You are not authorised to post comments.

Comments powered by CComment

Cron Job Starts