Last Word on Pro Football is publishing a series on the most recognizable players for each NFL franchise. As a part of this series, here are the three faces of the 2019 Tennessee Titans. The Titans are one of the least covered teams among national media but there are three men in particular that casual and national fans recognize.
Faces of the 2019 Tennessee Titans
For good or for bad, Marcus Mariota is undoubtedly one of the faces of the Titans franchise. There are two sides of the coin with Mariota, even among Titans nation. Titans fans are divided on the debate of whether or not Mariota is the future of the franchise or just another Andy Dalton type of player. After a promising rookie year, and a stellar second year, Mariota has struggled in his last two seasons with health and consistency.
Mariota is adored by Titans fans for good reason though. Since arriving in Nashville, the Mariota led Titans have risen from the bottom dwellers of the NFL and have competed for playoff spots in each of the last three seasons (including a win over the Chiefs in the 2017 AFC wild-card). Mariota became the first player to ever throw a touchdown to himself and has had his fair share of late game heroics. Year five is the make or break year and will end all Mariota debates for good, one way or another.
Not often do you see offensive linemen being one of the most popular players on a team but Taylor Lewan takes one of the three spots for the Titans. Lewan is the loudest and most outspoken player in this locker room. He is also known as one of the nastiest and toughest players in the NFL, which led him signing a massive five-year, $80 million contract. Between his unnecessary roughness calls, in-game fights and altercations, and trash talk, Lewan stays in the lens on the national media.
After the Titans defeated the Philadelphia Eagles in Week Four of the 2019 season, Lewan called out national media for not giving the team enough credit or attention. He is a favorite among Titans fans as he is credited with bringing a tenacity and ferociousness to the Titans offensive line which had been lacking in the years prior. Additionally, the former Michigan Wolverine is coming off of his third straight Pro-Bowl appearance and shows no sign of slowing down. Lewan also hosts a “Bussin’ with the Boys” podcast with former Titan Will Compton, allowing tons of fan engagement in the off-season.
This video shows exactly why Lewan sticks out among other Titans and offensive lineman throughout the league.
Can one single play spark interest and popularity towards a player on an otherwise not very popular franchise? Yes. Yes it can, as we saw with Derrick “King” Henry’s NFL record-tying 99-yard touchdown run against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Thursday Night Football in the 2018 season. Titans fans have known and have been excited about the potential monster Derrick Henry is in the Titans’ backfield, but this one singular play really put the rest of the league on notice.
Henry has shown flashes since his rookie year as he backed up DeMarco Murray. He is a 6’3″, 250 pound running back who possesses legit 4.5 speed. In 2017, Henry was the Titans closer and broke off numerous runs in the fourth quarter to seal or win games. In fact, in 2017 Henry was second in the league in rushing yards after contact in the fourth quarter (4.11). In 2018, Henry notched his first 1,000-yard season. Henry finished seventh in rushing yards (1059), fourth in rushing touchdowns (12), while only being 11th in attempts (215). In 2019, Titans fans are hopeful for more consistent production and Henry could certainly break into the elite of the elite at the position.
Just Missed the Cut: Kevin Byard, Delanie Walker
Kevin Byard may very well be the best player on the entire Titans roster. Unfortunately, despite leading the league in interceptions and making first-team all-pro in 2017 and continuing his stellar play in 2018, Byard is slept on by most national media and fans of other teams.
Delanie Walker has been the best offensive playmaker on the Titans since he arrived from the San Francisco 49ers in 2013. No matter who has been at quarterback, Walker has produced and has been in the upper echelon of tight ends. Walker saw his three-year pro bowl streak end after an injury in the season opener of 2018 against the Miami Dolphins. With Walker coming off injury and turning 35 before the season, many are doubting his ability to come back and be his productive self. National media has more or less forgotten about him but Walker sees this as an opportunity to produce a rude awakening all over the league come the start of the 2019 Tennessee Titans season.
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