Now that we are about halfway through the 2016 National Football League regular season, it is time to start considering which players are deserving of the Pro Bowl. For this series, we will look at the three most deserving candidates for each team. Obviously, some teams will have more or less than three players selected to the Pro Bowl, but for simplicity purposes, we are covering the top three in this article. This is the top midseason Pro Bowl candidates for the Tennessee Titans.
Top Midseason Tennessee Titans Pro Bowl Candidates
Let’s go with the most obvious player first in DeMarco Murray. Head Coach Mike Mularky and the Titans staff made it clear in the offseason what they wanted to do offensively. Run the ball. Already featuring a quarterback, in Marcus Mariota, who is not shy about doing just that. DeMarco Murray was the perfect fit for the team. Not only because of his tremendous running ability, but because he can catch the ball and run block as well.
Coming into the season, many anticipated that Murray would split time with the Heisman Trophy winning runner Derrick Henry. However, he’s been so good that Murray has largely kept Henry on the sidelines. DeMarco Murray is the main reason the Titans as a whole rank third in the NFL in rushing at 144.2 yards per game. Murray also ranks third on his own in yards per game (88.1), behind only Ezekiel Elliot and Jay Ajayi. He’s also second in the league behind Elliot in total yards rushing (807). However, Murray doesn’t just run between the 20’s, he puts it in the endzone too. He is currently tied for fifth along with Elliot and Matt Forte in touchdowns.
Something Murray developed in his time with the Dallas Cowboys and the Philadelphia Eagles, was an aptitude for catching the ball out of the backfield. Last season with the Eagles, Murray was used a lot more effectively in this capacity, than he was splitting time with Ryan Matthews. This season, Murray leads the team in receptions and ranks fifth in receiving yards (226.) He’s also tied for third with Kendall Wright in receiving touchdowns (2) as well. Murray not only provides a great check down for Mariota, but is useful in the screen game too. Murray so far has proved all of his doubters wrong and is certainly headed for a true Pro Bowl season.
Marcus Mariota came into the league last season with quite a bit of fanfare. The second overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, had largely an injury plagued season last year. Not to mention, dealing with a coaching and offensive system change too. Many wondered how Mariota would adjust to a pro-style offense, after being under a quick read system at the University of Oregon. He showed flashes of it in 2015, especially his first game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. So, the team had a lot of faith that Mariota could bring that into 2016.
Mariota has proved their faith correct, as at the midseason mark he has a 63.2 completion percentage and over 2,000 yards passing. He’s tied for fifth among quarterbacks with 17 passing touchdowns and only has eight interceptions. Mariota has a few favorite targets, but for the most part he passes the ball around to several receivers. As of this writing, four receivers have at least 300 yards and he’s thrown a touchdown to seven different pass catchers.
Mariota was a big time dual threat coming out of college and in the NFL he’s down the same thing. He’s actually second on the team in rush yards, including a long 41 yard scamper. In addition, he’s second on the team with two rushing touchdowns on the year too.
Considering how up and down the AFC South has been this season, the Tennessee Titans could be involved in the division race deep into the season. This means Mariota still has potential for some big games ahead of him. It’s hard to say where Mariota will fall in the overall Pro Bowl conversation, but for the Titans he’s one of their stand outs.
There are quite a few Titans players who could receive this spot, Brian Orakpo, Rishard Matthews, Perrish Cox and Delanie Walker just to name some. However it is, Jason McCourty who has been a key cog in the Titans defense this season.
McCourty, a career long Tennessee Titan, has been quite solid throughout his eight years with the team. However, over the last couple of years he’s played only 13 games combined, after only missing one game from 2014-2011. What stands out about McCourty this season, is that at the midseason mark, he is on pace to have his best season ever.
Looking at his 2012 season, which statistically was his best overall year. He had 93 combined tackles, four interceptions, and 15 passes defensed. Already in 2016, McCourty is tied for 12th among all defensive backs in statistics. He has 50 combined tackles, which is second only to Avery Williamson on the team. He leads his team with two interceptions and 13 passes defensed.
There may be more well-known defensive backs in the league, but if McCourty does put up career best numbers he could certainly be in consideration for Pro Bowl honors. His interception numbers could hold him back in the end from getting there, but there’s no doubt the impact he’s had this year on the Titans.