Do the Tennessee Titans have the pieces to pass the “Championship Formula”

The Tennessee Titans are a fundamentally different team in 2024 than they were in 2023, and it is time to do an audit on this new and improved roster.

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When people in Nashville talk about the Titans roster, you will almost certainly hear the phrase “thin” which is a fair critique, but we need to put that in perspective.

While the NFL is a league of attrition, people overvalue depth. It is nice to have depth, but if you advocate for a team like the Tennessee Titans to sacrifice top-end talent just to build depth, you are missing the forest for the trees.

Championship teams are built on greatness, and there is actually a formula out there that the NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah has talked about a lot. He calls it the “Championship Formula” and he believes that all great teams try to build around this blueprint to make a successful team.

The formula is:
-1 quarterback
-3 offenisve playmakers
-3 quality offensive linemen
-2 pass rushers
-3 defensive playmakers

The goal is to have as many good or great players at those positions as possible, and GMs should always be pursuing upgrading one or more of those position groups. The thought process behind this is that even if you are missing a few players or you are asking a player to try to rise to the occasion at one of those positions, your focus is on the right thing and that process will lead to success.

For example, this is what Jeremiah and the NFL research department put together for the AFC West. Blue is an elite player, green is a good player, yellow is a player who has a question mark, purple is an unproven player, and red is a player where there is no clear answer.

They never got around to making one for the Titans as far as I could tell, so I decided to look at where the roster sits before the draft and look at which players might be candidates for each position.

Quarterback (1): Will Levis (Purple)

Will Levis has all of the upside in the world, and he was a walking highlight reel when he had more than a second to throw last year. However, you can’t evaluate a rookie quarterback in those conditions and even though he did more good than bad, let’s wait to see where he grades out now that he has help around him and a smart HC.

Offensive playmakers (3): DeAndre Hopkins (green), Calvin Ridley (green), Tyjae Spears (purple)

Age is a reason to change someone from a green to a yellow, but I will start believing that age is an issue for a player when it changes what they look like on the field. Hopkins is still boxing guys out and making incredible catches like he is in his mid-20s and Ridley is still routing guys up and making big plays.

Spears had fantastic flashes last season and I consistently said all season that the Titans were better when he was on the field and when Derrick Henry was on the sideline. Spears could quickly take the jump to green if he plays like he did last year with a bigger role, but until then he has to stay in the purple category.

Quality offensive linemen (3): Lloyd Cushenberry (green), Peter Skoronski (purple), Daniel Brunskill (yellow)

This is clearly the worst group on the list for the Tennessee Titans, and fans should be screaming for the team to just take Joe Alt at 7.

Think about it like this. This is the only position group in this formula where there are multiple players outside of the green/blue range. The Titans have already taken a massive step toward fixing this by hiring Bill Callahan, but there is a very real chance that Cushenberry, Skoronski, and Alt could all be blue-chip players under Callahan.

The Titans are one piece away from turning their worst position group into their best position group.

Pass rushers (2): Jeffery Simmons (blue), Harold Landry (green)

Jeffery Simmons and Harold Landry are the Tennessee Titans dynamic duo on the defensive line and both players are still at the beginning of their prime. Harold Landry has had 10+ sacks in each of the last two seasons that he has played and he is poised for another big season now that he has fully recovered from his ACL injury in 2021.

Over the last three seasons, Simmons has 21 sacks and has averaged 0.49 sacks per game. The only defensive tackles with better numbers are Chris Jones and the recently retired Aaron Donald. Simmons is a menace and he is only going to get better with an aggressive playcaller and better coverage in the secondary.

Defensive playmakers (3): L’Jarius Sneed (blue), Chidobe Awuzie (yellow), Roger McCreary (green)

If you could promise me that Awuzie would play all 17 games, I would have him graded out as a green player. As it stands, I just can’t trust that which means that he falls just short and he keeps this group from being quite as dominant as it looks on paper.

Sneed is Sneed and he is going to be a dominant force for the defense this year and that is going to bring more eyes on McCreary. McCreary is one of the best-kept secrets in the NFL, but that won’t be the case after the rest of the NFL learns about the best young SCB in the game.

Final score: 2 blues, 5 greens, 2 yellows, and 3 purples

There is much more good than bad on this list, but whether this is a good, average, or bad roster hinges on the three purples on this list. Can an improved supporting cast and much better coaching help Will Levis and Peter Skoronski become the players that they showed glimpses of last year? Can Tyjae Spears sustain his explosiveness with more volume this season?

Depth is important, but if the Titans can nail this draft, then they will have a strong chance to finish the season with as many of these boxes checked as anyone else in the NFL. All they have to do is make the easy decision in the first round and find good scheme fits with the rest of their draft picks.

Even though the gap seemed large heading into the offseason, it is interesting just how close the Titans are. Chemistry and development are important and health is always going to decide the fate of any roster in the NFL, but this roster has added great talent at key positions this offseason.

Time will tell, but right now it feels like the Tennessee Titans are on the precipice of something exciting.

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