One of the Tennessee Titans’ major offseason concerns was a lack of speed and athleticism at the wide receiver position.
In the months and weeks leading up to the draft the Titans were verbal about their intentions of bringing in a receiver or two that can take the top off a defense.
A player that can punish opposing defenses for committing extra guys to stop the run.
Fans and media alike applauded the Titans for brining in those players. One being 5th overall pick Corey Davis. The other was third round pick Taywan Taylor.
Davis has missed most of the season with an injured hamstring, but in the case of Taylor, one has to wonder where he is…and why that place is not the field on Sundays.
Taylor was by far the Titans’ most consistent and electrifying player on offense throughout training camp, catching everything in sight while wowing the fans with his speed and athleticism.
With Davis and Eric Decker missing most of the summer with nagging injuries, Taylor benefited from the extra reps in practice.
And it carried over to the preseason.
The third round pick out of Western Kentucky led the team in receptions during the exhibition games, and showed his versatility on jet sweeps and gadget plays.
Most importantly, he showed that he is more than capable of stretching a defense with several big plays in the passing game.
But when the regular season rolled around it seemed that all of that was forgotten by the coaching staff, causing Taylor to be the forgotten man on offense.
After five regular season games the rookie has been targeted just eight times, even though he is currently leading the team in yards per reception (14.4).
Out of his five catches, three were first down conversions.
Taylor is also averaging 5.2 yards per carry in the run game, more than DeMarco Murray (4.9) and Derrick Henry (4.3).
With that said, he only has five rushing attempts on the season.
With Delanie Walker drawing tons of attention, Davis still on the mend, and Decker looking slower by the day, its head scratching to me that Taylor has been relegated to being thrown a bone or two each game, especially with the offense struggling to put up points the last two weeks.
Last week in Miami was a perfect illustration…
Taylor gained five yards on a jet sweep on the Titans’ first offensive play of the game, and was not called upon for the remainder of the afternoon.
A mind-boggling development given the fact that Matt Cassel (and his limitations) was under center.
Knowing that Cassel has a weak arm, Taylor was not featured on any bubble screens, slants, or short passing routes that could have led to something bigger…as he’s shown to be capable of doing since being drafted.
Instead, the Titans stubbornly plowed away into a Dolphins’ front seven that is proficient in stopping the run. The 69 yards rushing as a team speaks volumes to the plan’s effectiveness.
In the passing game the Titans elected to call long-developing plays, causing a non-mobile Cassel to get knocked around repeatedly while waiting for players to get open downfield.
As of today it appears that Marcus Mariota will return to action Monday night, but hamstrings are tricky, so I will believe it when I see it.
Even with Mariota under center, offensive coordinator Terry Robiskie must find creative ways to jumpstart the offense in a must-win divisional matchup with the Colts.
Teams are now stacking the line of scrimmage to stop the run, which is a recipe for success for a player with Taylor’s speed and skill sets.
That is, if he can find his way to the field.
The Titans now find themselves in a desperate situation, and desperate times calls for desperate measures.
It’s time for Taylor to become involved in the offense.