A new coordinator and a new wide receiver headlined the offseason for the Tennessee Titans offense. The centerpiece of the unit remains running back Derrick Henry.
Tennessee tapped Todd Downing to call the plays after Arthur Smith left for Atlanta. Nearly six months later, the Titans welcomed Julio Jones to Nashville in a deal with the same team.
Now, with a treasure trove of talented new faces, Henry – and the rest of the offense – are eager to put it all together.
“We are ready to see what we can do together,” Henry said Wednesday, the next-to-last day of this week’s mandatory minicamp. “We are trying to put it all together. These guys have been working hard, building chemistry, and pushing each other.”
For Henry, the two-time NFL rushing champion, to reap the benefits of an offense littered with great weapons, all of those players have to be able to work together. That will take countless conversations, meetings, and days at practice, but it is a challenge all involved are ready to embrace.
“My vision for this offense is that we are a discipline, high effort, high energy and sound football team,” Downing said. “The rest of it is going to fall into place. … Our goal is to be better each day that they are out there.”
That also means coming together as the season draws near.
However, the addition of Jones provides an intriguing wrinkle for Henry, who last season became the eighth player in NFL history to rush for more than 2,000 yards. With Jones and A.J. Brown at wide receiver, teams can’t sell out to stop the run. They have to play everyone straight up.
“Who are they going to try to take away?” Brown said. “I think it starts in the backfield. The guy in the backfield demands all the attention first. You got to play us honest.”
Henry most likely will see fewer eight or nine-man boxes when he takes handoffs. That will reduce the resistance he faces in his first few steps. And once he gets his 6-foot-3, 249-pound frame rolling, he has shown he is difficult to stop.
For now, he doesn’t want to get too ahead of himself. He just wants to focus on getting the basics down on fitting Jones into the offense and make sure the whole operation runs smoothly.
“He’s a dynamic player. One of, if not the best, receivers in this league,” Henry said. “I don’t want to get into all the boxes and different types of scenarios. I think we just try to put it all together while we are here. Just try to work and make each other better each and every day.
“He likes to work hard. I like to work hard. That’s all we are trying to bring to the table.”
Jones, Brown, Henry and quarterback Ryan Tannehill have shown they can produce singularly memorable moments. None can do it alone, and all four are quick to say as much.
Three, however, have worked together with good results. Henry and Brown were Pro Bowlers last season when the Titans finished second in the NFL in yards and fourth in points.
The challenge now is to see how Jones fits.
“He’s just a great guy to have around,” Henry said. “We both know each other’s mindset and what we want to do. He’s a great asset for this team for everybody to learn from.”