A look at Tennessee Titans players who were "up" and those who were "down" coming out of the Titans' 3-13 season:
Tight end Delanie Walker: Despite every team trying to stop the Titans' No. 1 threat, he caught 94 passes for 1,088 yards in a fantastic season. Nobody on the team came close to matching his production in any fashion. Teammates weren’t equipped to jump aboard and follow his lead. But no player on the team did more to set a positive tone and try to pull people along.
Quarterback Marcus Mariota: The results weren’t what the Titans had hoped, but it was clear early that Mariota has the “it” factor teams covet in a quarterback. He’s poised and smart and can make all the throws, though his deep balls need work. He recognizes his errors and does well not to repeat them. He has NFL quarterback temperament, taking the blame for stuff that isn’t remotely his fault. There isn’t a person connected to the franchise who’s full faith he has not won. He did great work in the red zone and against the blitz, two areas where young quarterbacks usually struggle. He needs better protection and upgraded weapons.
The offensive line: Despite investments and shuffling, the Titans couldn’t get it together and the pass protection and run game were both major issues for a team that dedicated itself to being built around the group. Left tackle Taylor Lewan opened camp proclaiming the group would be gritty and nasty and 16 games later there was no evidence it made progress taking on that personality. Third-rounder Jeremiah Poutasi, benched after Mike Mularkey took over in Week 9, offered little as a rookie and looks to be a guard, not a right tackle.
The weapons: Beyond Walker, the Titans feature no consistently productive or threatening skill player on offense. Kendall Wright suffered multiple injuries and didn’t play well for any sustained period. Justin Hunter was the same and got hurt. Dorial Green-Beckham had some late-season flashes, but was over his head as a rookie. The running back pool was terrible, with Antonio Andrews finishing his big chance with mistakes that killed his playing time, Bishop Sankey showing little improvement, David Cobb not establishing himself and Dexter McCluster confirming he’s a bit player.
No. 2 quarterback Zach Mettenberger: The Titans came into the season feeling great about having two good, young quarterbacks. But Mettenberger was called on to start four games and lost all four. The Titans are now 0-10 in games he’s started over the last two years. He could still thrive in a drop-back, play-action offense, but that’s not what these Titans ran and he didn’t look like he improved in Year 2 despite a much improved attitude and a more muscular build. He was pulled early in the third quarter of the season finale with a forearm injury, as the Titans turned the game over to Alex Tanney.
The cornerbacks: Coty Sensabaugh ended up as a starter outside who shifted to the slot because of Jason McCourty’s sports hernia issues that limited him to four games. Sensabaugh struggled, as did all the Titans corners. Blidi Wreh-Wilson got benched because of his problems. Perrish Cox played pretty well for a good stretch, though he’s far from a No. 1 and was working in that capacity. But a terrible showing against the Jets in Week 14 put him on a dizzying downward spiral. Undrafted rookie Cody Riggs seemed to do OK when he played, but he wasn’t in the mix much at the end and B.W. Webb wasn’t a big answer. The Titans talk about being close, but not making the play. That’s been this group’s M.O. for some time, and it’s beyond time to declare they lack playmakers.