NASHVILLE, Tenn. ⏤ Don’t expect the Tennessee Titans to undergo even a marginal transformation before the 2022 season.

The version of the Titans that takes the field in September will be substantially similar to the version that lost to the Bengals in the divisional round of the playoffs on Saturday.

All 11 defensive starters from 2021 will return, assuming the team re-signs OLB Harold Landry. The core of the offense will also remain the same, aside from likely having new tight ends and, potentially, a minor offensive-line shakeup.

The lack of expected personnel change for the Titans, barring a surprising trade or something of the like, begs the question as to whether this team, as currently constructed, is good enough to win a Super Bowl.

A TALE OF TWO SIDES

There is certainly belief within the Titans’ locker room of that being the case.

“Definitely, the pieces are in place,” OLB Bud Dupree said. “Everyone’s here. We have a couple of small things that we’ve got to adjust. Each person needs to look at themselves in the mirror to figure out what they can do better individually, and we can come out next year swinging.”

Defensively, Tennessee does indeed have those pieces.

The Titans’ defense was a nightmare for quarterbacks to face in 2021. That truth was never more evident than in the team’s playoff loss on Saturday when it tied a playoff record by sacking Joe Burrow an almost-unbelievable nine times.

“When guys got their one-on-ones, we were winning,” DL Jeffery Simmons said.

On offense, though, there’s reason for concern.

While the Titans’ 16th-ranked offense wasn’t disastrous by any stretch in 2021, it was problematic.

Tennessee scored on just three of its 18 opening drives, the offense turned the ball over at least three times in six different games and offensive coordinator Todd Downing never found any discernable rhythm.

Additionally, when the playoffs came around, QB Ryan Tannehill melted down and delivered a brutal, three-interception performance in a loss. It marked the third time since 2019 that the 33-year-old signal-caller failed to deliver when the Titans’ needed him in the postseason.

“It was a frustrating day all the way around,” Tannehill said after the game.

IT COULD BE WORSE

It’s important to note that the Titans are not in some kind of dire situation. They’re coming off a 12-5 regular season with a QB who’s got a 30-13 regular-season record in Tennessee, and they should be overwhelming favorites to repeat as division champions in 2022.

But this team doesn’t just want to make the playoffs⏤they want to win a Super Bowl.

“We’re not here to see how good the regular season can be. We’re trying to win the Super Bowl,” WR A.J. Brown said.

If that happens for the Titans, it will be, for the most part, with the players and coaches they currently have.

Tennessee has hitched its wagon to its current core of players, and the coaching staff certainly isn’t going to change unless head coach Mike Vrabel surprisingly decides to move on from Downing.

GOOD NEWS, BAD NEWS

The good news, for the Titans, is that it’s a good core.

Vrabel will likely win Coach of the Year, and defensive coordinator Shane Bowen is looking like a potential 2023 head-coaching candidate. The roster is chock full of young, emerging stars like Brown and Simmons.

The bad news is that this core wasn’t good enough to win a Super Bowl in 2021⏤as Vrabel put it, the team was “not very close” to reaching its ultimate goal.

There’s no evidence currently available to point to a potential January turnaround next season.

While the team could simply play better to avoid going one-and-done as they’ve now done two seasons in a row, what’s going to happen when they encounter a real juggernaut like Josh Allen’s Bills or Patrick Mahomes’ Chiefs?

Tannehill certainly won’t be getting them over that hump, at least not without heroic performances by his offensive teammates.

The probable lack of change in the Titans’ future will make this a unique offseason. There is no major need, excluding tight end. There will be no major reshuffling or retooling.

Because of money and contract situations, the 2022 season will essentially be a mulligan with the same swing.

Maybe the Titans’ aim will be better this go around.

  • Vrabel image: Shelley Mays/The Tennessean
  • Downing/Tannehill image: George Walker IV/The Tennessean