It was hard to envision how the Tennessee Titans could improve on the NFL’s No. 2-ranked offense from a season ago.
But that’s exactly what they did by adding All Pro receiver Julio Jones in a trade with the Atlanta Falcons last week. The explosiveness Jones adds to Tennessee’s offense due to his deep-threat potential, his physicality as a route runner and his ability to pull double teams away from A.J. Brown has made the Titans a legitimate Super Bowl contender.
But before Titans fans start planning a trip to SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California, Jones will have to develop a rhythm with quarterback Ryan Tannehill — the first quarterback Jones has had in more than 10 years who isn’t named Matt Ryan.
"It's going to be a learning process, both on and off the field," Tannehill said. "[Julio’s] got a lot of talent and has made a bunch of big plays over the course of his career, but we have to get on the same page and make sure we are on point with everything we are going to ask him to do here in Tennessee. So [I'm] excited for that and looking forward to the work it's going to take to get ready to go for Sundays in the fall."
Since joining the Titans, Tannehill has led the team to an AFC South division title and an AFC Championship game. He posted a career high with 33 touchdowns last season. But with the addition of arguably the best receiver of the last decade to go with Brown and Derrick Henry, his production could reach new heights in 2021.
Tannehill has gotten a start in getting to know his new weapon, taking the 32-year-old wideout to dinner shortly after the trade was made official. The duo got a feel for each other last week during OTAs and this week during mandatory minicamp, with Tannehill learning the nuances of Jones’ game.
"There's benefits to having a big target [like Julio],' Tannehill said. "You get range, a bigger catching radius, and they can use their bodies to create separation. If it's tight coverage, you have more space to throw it away from a defender so they will be able to make a play on it."
Although the Titans ended minicamp on Thursday and won’t meet again until training camp begins in July, Tannehill and Jones won’t be starting from scratch when they get together again in a few weeks.
"As guys get more involved in what we are doing and guys get healthier... that will be the real test for us as we head to training camp,” Tannehill added. “Being able to come back full speed and get on the same page quickly with all the different things that we like to do on this offense is going to be crucial."