Tennessee Titans: Players Who Need Expanded Roles on Offense in 2013
It's safe to say that the offense didn't perform up to par for the Tennessee Titans in 2012, and a lot of that had to do with the coaching personnel.
Now that the coaching staff has been overhauled, it will be interesting to see how the offense changes for next season.
This offense has way too many talented pieces not to put up at least two or three touchdowns against even really good defenses.
The question is if the pieces are being used effectively, and last season they simply were not.
These four valuable weapons on offense need expanded roles for the Titans to take a giant step forward.
It's still a mystery as to why Jamie Harper has been used so sparingly over his first two seasons in the NFL.
Harper is a valuable short-yardage running back who simply wasn't used enough in 3rd-and-short situations.
All you have to do is look at the numbers to figure out that Harper needs an expanded role in this offense. Only 19 rushing attempts as the primary backup to Chris Johnson are baffling.
It becomes even more baffling when you consider how much Johnson struggled in getting those tough couple of yards to convert short second and third downs.
Unless the Titans choose to draft Johnson's future backup in the upcoming draft, Harper needs to double his offensive touches at least in 2013.
Kendall Wright had a solid rookie season, and the Titans did pretty well at using him on short-yardage routes.
You would like to see even more of that next season out of Wright. It's clear that Wright is deadly when it comes to eating up yards after the catch.
It's also a great way to build confidence in Jake Locker as he makes somewhat easy completions on short throws that have the potential to go for some big yards.
Wright should continue to improve at weeding out some of those costly drops that he had.
With that said, Wright was one of the few players on offense who exceeded expectations last season. For that he deserves an even bigger role in the offense when next season rolls around.
A lot of things worked against Jake Locker last season, including an offensive line that was in shambles by season's end.
Assuming that the offensive line improves through personnel changes, Locker should have more time to make some plays in his second full year as a starter.
With that will come a bigger role in the offense that should allow Locker to use his feet more often in a good way.
Far too many times last season, Locker had to use his feet unwillingly to escape two or three defenders pouncing on him right after the ball was snapped.
If plays can be designed to get Locker outside of the pocket and make throws on the run, then it will serve to Locker's benefit. He's way more effective in that regard.
It would also give Locker more opportunities to run the ball willingly instead of always running for his life on a broken play.
Locker simply taking snaps under center and taking a two-step drop is just not his strength at this point in his career. That was no secret when he was coming out of college.
The Titans just have to expand his role in a different way to cater to Locker's strengths. This expanded role probably wouldn't make him an Andrew Luck, but it would definitely show improvements from last season's disappointing numbers.
Then there is Jared Cook, who was not shy about his frustration with his role on offense under Chris Palmer's offensive system.
Now that Palmer is gone, it should mean that the Titans will find ways to get this athletic specimen more involved in this offense.
To put it bluntly, not using one of their best offensive weapons to their advantage is just stupidity.
Cook has to get six to eight targets every game as long as the flow calls for them. There will be some games that will call for a steady dose of running the ball.
However, that didn't happen very often last season with Chris Johnson's slow start.
Cook brings a lot of problems for opposing defenses because of his physical frame. He also has a great ability to go up and get balls that aren't necessarily that accurate.
Doesn't that remind you of some of Jake Locker's throws down the middle?
Even if Locker doesn't make the perfect throw on a designed play to Cook, he still has a good chance to snatch the ball out of the air.
The Titans should massively expand Cook's role in the passing offense for next season. If they do, then expect the passing numbers to go way up in 2013.