When you think of the Tennessee Titans, you think of this: a strong defense, a powerful running game, and a passing game that you would like to, well, pass on.
The passing game is not bad because of the quarterback position; Vince Young has been improving and Kerry Collins has been playing mistake-free football. The reason the NFL community doesn't like the passing game of Tennessee is the receivers.
The team's leader coming into the season? A fourth- or fifth-string receiver who played for the sub-par receiving corps of the Chicago Bears, Justin Gage.
Tennessee released its second option, Roydell Williams. Its third option was Justin McCareins, a player the New York Jets dropped. Ahead of these receivers were tight ends Bo Scaife and Alge Crumpler.
So, had Williams stayed with the team, the Titans' sixth option would have been Brandon Jones. Jones, however, is now looking like the No. 2. And he is.
So who is Brandon Jones? Jones was drafted by Tennessee in the third round with the 97th pick in the 2005 NFL Draft. He was a former Oklahoma Sooner from Texarkana, Texas. He was a member of the "Big Three" receivers for the Sooner, consisting of himself, Mark Clayton, and Mark Bradley.
Jones has missed 13 games over his first three seasons, all due to injuries. This season, however, he has yet to miss a game.
Jones' season-high in receptions is 27. He already has that many through nine games this season. Jones has also received 298 yards. He is second on the team in both catches and yards, behind Scaife.
However, the reason I love Jones right now is because he has improved nearly every game. That is not just an opinion; the stats render it true. Look at this:
Week One: JACKSONVILLE
Jones: 1 reception, 5 yards
Week Two: at Cincinnati
Jones: 2 receptions, 26 yards
Week Three: HOUSTON
Jones: 2 receptions, 21 yards
Week Four: MINNESOTA
Jones: 3 receptions, 34 yards
Week Five: at Baltimore
Jones: 3 receptions, 54 yards
Week Seven: at Kansas City
Jones: no stats
Week Eight: INDIANAPOLIS
Jones: 4 receptions, 40 yards
Week Nine: GREEN BAY
Jones: 4 receptions, 36 yards
Week 10: at Chicago
Jones: 8 receptions, 82 yards
Do you notice anything about these statistics? The number of receptions has gone up in all weeks except from Week Five to Week Seven. Otherwise, the catches have only gone up. So yes, he has improved nearly every game.
Jones has yet to catch a touchdown, though Collins are making it difficult to catch touchdowns, since he has thrown just five all season. Jones has also set his career highs in receptions and yards with the Chicago game. Jones played by far the best game a Tennessee wide receiver has played all season.
This game contends with the game Gage played last season against Jacksonville last season, in which he caught seven passes for 90 yards and a touchdown, as far as the best in the last two seasons.
Jones played well because he caught everything thrown to him. He caught a key pass that Collins threw behind him in the fourth quarter. He didn't go deep; he ran 10-yard routes. Jones ran them to perfection; he confused the secondary once he caught a 25-yard pass that was different from his short routes.
Jones doesn't have much to compete with when it comes to leading the Titans, but he will do it. Jones will be the best receiver in Tennessee since the likes of Derrick Mason and Drew Bennett.
Last week, I wrote an article on the top rookies Tennessee has drafted since 2005. I now regret not including Jones on the list.
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