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The Best of 2016: A Look Back at the Titans Season



NASHVILLE, Tenn. —** The 2016 season is in the books.

The Titans finished the year 9-7, and just missed out on a trip to the playoffs. But there's no denying the progress made during a season when the team matched the biggest turnaround in franchise history.

Here's a look at the highlights – and a few lowlights – from the year.

Plus, the awards…


Most Valuable Player – QB Marcus Mariota**
Mariota made improvements in every area in his second NFL season, from throwing the deep ball to third-down passing to his TD-INT ratio. He was clutch in crunch time, and he continues to be perfect in the red zone. He further established himself as the leader of the team.

Offensive MVP – RB DeMarco Murray
It was a true bounce-back season for Murray, who led the AFC in rushing with 1,287 yards and had five 100-yard games in 2016 after a quiet year in Philadelphia. He also played a big role in the passing game, where he caught 53 passes for 377 yards a 3 TDs.

Defensive MVP – OLB Brian Orakpo
Orakpo was a force on the way to a Pro Bowl season. He finished the year with 10.5 sacks, leading the way on a defense that finished with 40 on the season. He also had 49 quarterback pressures.


Special Teams MVP – Kicker Ryan Succop**
His most memorable kick of the year was the 53-yarder to beat the Chiefs. Who could forget that one? But Succop was consistent from beginning to end, converting on 22-of-24 field goals. He was perfect inside the 50.

Best rookie – RT Jack Conklin
The Titans used the eighth overall pick on Conklin, and he delivered. Conklin was consistent up front in both run blocking and pass protection. On Friday, he was named to The Associated Press 2016 All-Pro team. Not bad for a rookie, huh? He's going to be a fixture on the offensive line for years to come.

Best free agent – WR Rishard Matthews
Matthews led the team in receiving yards (945) and touchdowns (9) and he tied for the team lead in receptions (65). He proved to be a reliable target, and his impressive finish to the season bodes well for the future.

Most underrated – Ben Jones
Another key free agency addition, Jones not only did the dirty work in the middle of the offensive line, he also helped shape the personality of the group. Jones was sturdy, and he was a tone-setter.


Most improved – LT Taylor Lewan**
Lewan took his game to another level in 2016. His maturity showed up in a lot of areas, especially on the field, where he turned in a Pro Bowl season and began to distance himself from some of the shenanigans that derailed him in the past.

Most consistent – ILB Avery Williamson
In his third NFL season, Williamson turned in his most productive year to date. He posted a team-high 149 tackles, and turned in double-digit tackle performances nine times. He also had two sacks, and an interception and a forced fumble.

Best game – Nov. 13: Titans 47, Packers 25
There was excitement from the get-go, when Murray took the handoff and raced 75 yards for a touchdown on the first offensive play. Mariota threw for 295 yards and four touchdowns, Murray ran for 123 yards and the TD and the Titans sacked Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers five times at Nissan Stadium.


Worst game – December 24: Jaguars 38, Titans 17**
The Titans lost the game, and Mariota. I think that's about all that needs to be said about this one.

Best trends
• The Titans went 4-0 in games decided by three points or less. The team went 2-7 in those games over the previous two years.

• The Titans proved to be a resilient team, going 6-1 in games following a loss.

• Mariota has now thrown 33 touchdowns vs 0 interception in the red zone in his first two seasons.

• Titans rookies played 3,552 snaps in 2016, which ranked in the top 10. The NFL average: 2,675 snaps.

• The Titans finished the year ranked No.3 in the NFL in rushing, a year after ranking 25th in the league.

• The Titans finished the year ranked No.2 in the NFL in run defense, up from No.18 in 2015.


Worst trends**
• The Titans finished just 2-4 in the AFC South, which is why they lost the tiebreaker to the Texans.

• The Titans fell behind by double digits in six of the team's eight road contests.

• The Titans finished the season ranked 30th in pass defense.

What's next
Draft: The Titans currently have eight draft picks, including two in the first round (5th and 18th overall). The Titans also have two third-round picks, a fourth, a fifth, a sixth (Atlanta) and a seventh.

2017 Schedule
Home: Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, Los Angeles Rams, Seattle Seahawks and Oakland Raiders.

Road: Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, Cleveland Browns, Pittsburgh Steelers, Arizona Cardinals, San Francisco 49ers and Miami Dolphins. looks back at Marcus Mariota's second NFL season in 2016. (AP Photos)

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