The Tennessee Titans were served with a gut punch to start the season. After all the preseason hype, the Titans went out and got promptly beaten by the Oakland Raiders at home 26-16. After that sobering loss, the Titans had to see what they did that worked and what they did that did not work and correct it for the next game versus the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Titans started slow, getting down 3-0 before tying the game and taking the lead on two field goals in the second quarter. At that point, there had to be some Titans fans that were worried about their team. Were they going through some of the same doldrums that plagued them at times last year or was this something they could snap out of? Well, the Titans came out in the second half and scored 27 straight points, pushing the lead to 30-3 before the Jags scored in the fourth quarter. The performance the Titans had in the second half was one that many fans of the team had thought would have happened in the first game. There were many differences in what happened in the first game compared to the second game, but one big difference was the usage of tight end Delanie Walker.
The offense the Titans have is built around the running game and that is without question. DeMarco Murray was phenomenal in his first year as the starting running back for the Titans. While Murray was the focal point of the offense last season and the Titans would like to use that running game yet again this year, the most important piece to their offense is undoubtedly Delanie Walker. The versatile tight end has been special ever since he got here in 2013. There was some wonder as to how he would perform in an offense that featured more of the running game than the passing game. Well, the Titans have fit him in quite nicely and he is still the key to their passing game. Just to give you an example of how important he is, let’s take a look at the last 18 games of the Titans schedule. When Delanie has gotten five or more receptions, the Titans put up a record of 6-3. That ought to tell you that he is a huge key to their winning. His ability to get up the seam along with making plays at all different levels makes their team even better in the passing game and he also is a reliable target for Marcus Mariota, which is huge for their offense.
Going forward, the Titans have to find a way to get him more involved. Sure, they added more weapons in the passing game, but if they don’t get Walker involved, then they don’t win. The best thing they can do to get him involved is to move him around some more. Use him at the tight end position but also use him in the slot, in the backfield and in other innovative ways they can think of. We saw a sneak peak at one eccentric way the Titans used him Sunday. Walker was lined up as an H-back when he went in motion and Mariota handed him the football on a tight end sweep. That play resulted in him outflanking the defense and gliding in for a touchdown. The ever gracious Walker had this to say about his touchdown: “Jonnu (Smith) and Phil (Supernaw) made great blocks on the edges and basically helped me do my job.” Walker is athletic and fast enough at the age of 33 to outrun people that have just stepped into the league. While it seems like players slow down at his age, it seems like Walker is just aging like a fine win.
The Tennessee Titans evened their record with that win against the Jacksonville Jaguars, but they discovered that much more in that game as well. Walker is their best offensive weapon and the need to get him involved all the time is evident. The more he is involved, the better the chances the Titans win the game. It’s just that simple. Despite the thoughts that DeMarco Murray is the more important player, Walker is the more essential player to the Titans’ success this season. As he goes, so goes the team. We shall see if the Titans remember that every game or not.
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