The Tennessee Titans offense took a significant step backwards last season.

After finishing in the top ten in points scored in 2019, and the top five in 2020, the Titans offense receded to mediocrity last season. Much of that was due to the poor passing offense, and the regression of Ryan Tannehill.

The Titans were in the bottom ten in passing yards last season, despite bringing in future Hall of Famer Julio Jones as a weapon in the offseason. Jones’ injury struggles and the Titans poor pass protection offense didn’t help.

A lot needs to change in 2022 in order for the Titans to retake their place among the NFL’s most elite offensive units, and without AJ Brown or Julio Jones as weapons in the system, the job will not be easy.

Titans General Manager Jon Robinson was asked what it would take for the offense to take another jump in 2022, and the players he singled out may surprise you:

“Continuity,” said Robinson on the offense. “I thought Ryan [Tannehill] developed a really cool vibe with Chig and with Hoop. I thought that progressed really quickly throughout the spring.”

Robinson mentioned the Titans new tight ends, Austin Hooper and Chig Okonkwo, and their relationships with Tannehill as a huge key for the offense in 2022.

So far in training camp, Tannehill has looked comfortable throwing to all of his tight ends options. More of his primary reads seem to be going in that direction, and he’s clearly been more intentional about involving them in the passing game.

After Friday’s practice, Tannehill even spent extra time after practice working on timing and chemistry with Hooper, Okonkwo, and tight ends coach Luke Steckel.

It all seems to be working thus far.

Mike Vrabel and Robert Woods have each made press conference remarks in the last few days on how impressive the group has been.

Vrabel discussed the noticeable difference in chemistry between Tannehill, Okonkwo, and Hooper since the tight ends first joined the organization, and Woods hinted at one of them being a dark horse for a huge year.

Woods gave a shoutout to the rookie Okonkwo, saying that “his speed is rare” and that “he’s going to be a huge player” for the Titans this year. The real point comes, though, comes from what Woods touched on at the end:

Matchups.

With the Titans offensive line struggling to protect Tannehill recently, getting the ball out quickly is vital to having an efficient offense. You do that by winning 1-on-1s, and creating mismatches across the field.

Spreading the ball around the field makes everyone’s job easier. With solid tight end options being vertical threats to a defense, Tannehill will no longer be staring down AJ Brown and throwing up prayers. Defense can no longer key on the run or one receiver.

If the Titans offense is going to return to its elite form in 2022, the Titans need options.

Tight ends may be the secret to that happening.

Image via George Walker IV / Tennessean.com-USA TODAY NETWORK