Being able to run the ball is essential for all NFL franchises.
While the Tennessee Titans appear to be destined to become more of a passing team with Marcus Mariota and a host of talented options at wide receiver, the franchise still needs a run game to be successful.
The Titans did not have success record-wise in 2014. The 2-14 season was far from what fans expected, and one of the reasons why this team struggled mightily is because the offense had no balance.
The franchise finished 26th in the league in total rushing, which didn’t exactly help a Titans team that finished 22nd in passing.
Neither aspect of the offense was good, but perhaps the rushing attack was the more disappointing of the two. Most people expected inconsistency from Jake Locker and the passing game. However, when the Titans drafted former Washington standout Bishop Sankey in the second round of the 2014 NFL draft, expectations for the running game were much higher.
Of course, Sankey didn’t have the most impressive rookie season. He only totaled 569 yards on the year, with only two touchdowns to his credit.
But overall, the Titans were simply bad. It wasn’t Sankey’s fault that he had such an underwhelming first season in the league. The Titans trailed so many times last season that the team couldn’t afford to run all that much. Most of the time, the Titans needed points and needed them quickly.
Luckily, it’s a new season. Sankey’s rookie year doesn’t matter now. The passing game is expected to take huge strides with Mariota under center, and Sankey will be called upon to take some of the pressure off by providing a threat on the ground.
Sankey’s progression is absolutely essential if the Titans want to be a contender once again. When this team was making the playoffs and near the top of the AFC year in and year out, the rushing attack was outstanding.
But don’t have unrealistic expectations. Sankey isn’t going to transform into Eddie George or Chris Johnson overnight.
There’s a good chance that we aren’t even close to seeing Sankey’s best yet, but obviously, seeing it sooner rather than later is preferred given the desperate state of the Titans franchise.
The offensive line will need to do its part in helping transform the running game, and fellow Titans running backs Dexter McCluster, Antonio Andrews, and David Cobb will have an opportunity to contribute to the cause. Sankey isn’t going to get where he needs to be by himself.
Sankey has shown signs of brilliance. We saw it at times last season, and we saw it in the team’s first possession against the St. Louis Rams this past Sunday.
While Sankey didn’t put up incredible numbers, he ran with the type of intensity that Titans fans want to see. That resulted in a few solid runs that gave Titans fans hope for the type of impact that he could have this season.
Actually, “could have” should probably be “needs to have.” The Titans need Sankey to be a significant asset in the backfield. Not only to improve upon last season, but to start building the foundation for the future.
The franchise thinks that it now has its long-term solution at quarterback with Mariota added to the mix.
And if Sankey proves to be the future at running back, the Titans should find themselves back in the playoff picture very soon.