In the first installment of our Titans Mailbag, we answer our reader’s questions pertaining to whether or not A.J. Brown will encounter a sophomore slump in 2020. Also, will Derrick Henry still receive a majority of the carries for the Titans offensively? As the season progresses, we will be doing a bi-weekly mailbag throughout the 2020 NFL season. If you would like any of your questions answered on our next mailbag, be sure to send me your questions on Twitter: @myles_underwood
Does A.J. Brown experience a sophomore slump in 2020?
This one is a bit tricky, because I don’t think Brown will have a bad year production-wise in 2020, but I don’t think he improves very much statistically from his rookie season. It’s hard to improve when you had one of the best rookie seasons in Titans’ history at the wide receiver position, but he’ll have to find areas in his game that he can improve upon from season to season. With that being said, I do think Brown will contribute another 1,000-yard season receiving and is the clear number one WR for the Titans in 2020.
What could limit Brown in 2020 is the consistent focus he receives from opposing defenses. Last season, both Brown and Corey Davis drew the attention of other teams top corners fairly evenly. That will likely change this season, and it could open up the door for Davis to finally have a breakout year. I think both Davis and Brown will have strong seasons, but from a fantasy football perspective, I do think Brown disappoints just because of how high his average draft position is.
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Derrick Henry could repeat as the rushing leader in 2020
Do you project a change in the game script or will Henry still get the lion’s share of the carries?
After signing a team-friendly four-year, $50 million dollar contract extension this offseason, Henry appears ready to dominate the Titans workload once again. Henry led the league in carries last season, rushing for 1540 yards on 303 attempts. I’d imagine that the Titans will continue to feed Henry in 2020.
The game script is still going to be featured around Henry, but I do expect Titan’s second-year quarterback Ryan Tannehill’s pass attempts to go up on a per-game basis this season. Defenses are going to load the box to stop Henry, and Tannehill will have to take advantage of that if the Titans want to take that next step in 2020.
It’s time for Kevin Byard to get the recognition he deserves
Which Titan has played really well, but doesn’t get the credit or recognition they deserve?
There are several Titans that deserve more recognition for their great play, but no one is more deserving than starting free safety Kevin Byard. The 2017 First-Team All-Pro safety had the second-most interceptions last season, but apparently, his performance wasn’t good enough to land him in the NFL’s Top 100 Player of 2020. This is the second season where he has not received proper recognition in the voting process.
He’s been consistently overlooked by everyone in the league. NFL Hall of Famer Deion Sanders even went as far as calling him a “fan” in a twitter dispute they had back in 2018, but Byard isn’t the type of person that needs the recognition. He uses the disrespect as motivation, and it shows on the football field.
What really makes Byard special is his tendency of always being around the football. When breaking down Byard’s film, he approaches every play methodically. He does an outstanding job with his spacing, and he baits quarterbacks into making throws he knows they can’t complete. The closing speed that Byard possesses is elite, and pairing that with his balls skills provides him with a strong enough case to be considered as one of the best safeties in the NFL.
Jonnu Smith is ready for a breakout year
Is Jonnu Smith’s athleticism going to catapult him into this year’s top TE category?
Going into his first season as the full-time starter, Jonnu Smith is ready for his role in the Titans offense to expand. Last year Smith posted the highest Offensive Share Metric (OSM) out of any player in the NFL. OSM takes into consideration how much a player’s statistical production is what they were actually responsible for. For example, a WR that doesn’t drop passes and breaks a lot of tackles will have a higher grade than one who did the opposite.
If Smith can continue to produce at an efficient rate all season, the sky is the limit for him in 2020. Both he and Tannehill have been working out in South Florida this offseason to help develop more chemistry with each other. In a recent interview with reporters, Smith talked about how beneficial it has been for him and Tannehill to be able to work out together this offseason.
“It’s been great that we’ve been able to get that work in, and you know it sort of put us in a good position on the season.”
What excites me the most about Jonnu in 2020 is that this will be the first offseason that he’s entered camp fully healthy. With him being able to work on improving his craft and not having to focus on trying to get healthy, it should go a long way towards him taking that next step towards becoming a top tier TE this season.