Why the Titans are one of the most interesting teams in the NFL


The Titans are one of the most interesting teams in football, even adding no one of major note in the offseason. That includes Tennessee’s pass-rush fix, free-agent Vic Beasley, who is the biggest ghost in the NFL right now. After five years in Atlanta, the Falcons let him go in free agency, and he signed a lowball one-year, $9.5-million deal in Tennessee—amid rumors in Atlanta that Beasley had fallen out of love with football. He was 10 days late reporting to the Titans for camp, costing him a non-forgiveable (by CBA rules) $500,000 in fines. He failed his physical three weeks ago, was put on the non-football injury list, and has yet to practice. After signing more than five months ago, he has yet to talk to the Nashville press, and reporters have seen him around the facility only two or three times. Titans coach Mike Vrabel has given few clues about whatever injury he might have or when he might actually, you know, play football.

The most interesting addition might actually be third-round offensive weapon Darrynton Evans of Appalachian State. He hasn’t practiced in a week because of an unspecified injury, but if he gets right, and if put in the hands and offensive brain of Arthur Smith, Evans, the 93rd pick in the 2020 draft, could be one of the most interesting rookies in the NFL this year. As someone close to the Titans told me the other day: “Not ‘could be.’ It’s ‘will be.’ Darrynton Evans has a chance to be a poor man’s Alvin Kamara.” After the failed Dion Lewis experiment as an all-purpose back, the Titans hope that Evans is the changeup back not to take touches away from Derrick Henry (20.1 touches per game in the regular season) but to be used all over the formation. Like Kamara. In a Smith game plan, Evans could be dangerous.

Think about Gibbs as a coach and offensive designer. Think about winning games with lesser quarterbacks, a rock ‘em running back (as famous as John Riggins, as infamous as Timmy Smith), a stout line, some deep weapons, and imagination. Every game plan a snowflake for Gibbs. “I look back on my season with him,” said Smith, “and I realize how good he was handling the team, how he thought about the game. Thinking about John Riggins late in the year, in the playoffs, I kind of thought about that with Derrick [Henry] in the playoffs last year, and the similarities of how he thought about playoff football. That certainly had an effect on me.” In other words, ride the hot hand. Timmy Smith, a totally nondescript back (22 career regular-season games, 27 rushing yards per game), rushed for 204 yards in Super Bowl XXII.

After watching the Titans last year, I’m convinced Smith’s one of the five best play designers and playcallers in football. In the divisional game against Baltimore, Smith sent wide receiver Kalif Raymond—5-8, from Holy Cross, waived five times—on a deep seam route, and Raymond put a move on a top-10 NFL corner, Marlon Humphrey. The touchdown rainbow from Tannehill broke open that game. Weeks earlier, in a huge division game against Houston, Smith put tight end Jonnu Smith in the backfield and had Tannehill pitch it to him. Gain of 57.

Smith’s favorite weirdo play? It came on the 72nd offensive playcall of his NFL career. Week 2, 2019, home against Indy, ball at the Colts’ 1-yard line. Jumbo package: Linebacker Daren Bates in front of Henry in the backfield; 477 pounds of force to somehow get one yard. Offensive lineman David Quessenberry tight end-eligible outside the right tackle. At the snap, Marcus Mariota looks for Bates, of all people, flaring left. . .

“The first read of the play,” Smith said, “was Daren Bates, our linebacker subbing in at fullback. They just happened to cover Bates and Quiz came wide open. It was incredible and it worked out probably the way it should’ve and Marcus ended up finding Quiz coming in the back of the end zone. He was just a back side read. It wasn’t like he was the primary. But that’s the underrated thing—we were actually trying to get the ball to the linebacker who was helping out at fullback.” Huge play, in the sixth quarter of Smith’s play-calling life, and he calls for a linebacker to be the first option and the 310-pound offensive lineman the second. Touchdown.

“I love the strategy part of it, testing the limits to see what we can do,” Smith said. “I love working for Mike Vrabel. He allows you to push the limits. On the Jonnu play, we put it in in practice, and we ran it—Jonnu thought I was kidding. Mike saw it, he thought about it, and he said, ‘That’s not half-bad.’ “

Smith’s ethos comes in part from being so open-minded. Is it really sensible to have Derrick Henry on the field, needing one yard, and calling a play to throw to a linebacker or offensive linemen? Well, yes. Yes it is. Like his dad, Arthur Smith—one of 10 children—loves learning. “I was pushed by my dad to find my passion and go for it. He’s like, whatever you do, you’re gonna go full steam ahead at it and chase it. He goes to work every day and he’s a very active learner. Always challenges me to keep reading.”

The match with Tannehill was great for Smith, because the sudden backup quarterback—thrust into the lineup for a slumping Mariota in October—was dutiful as a backup, but never believed he was one. And Smith never babied Tannehill. “From the minute I took over he believed in me and just wanted me to go play, wanted me to go cut it loose, not overthink things,” Tannehill said. “That was a lot of fun for me to just go out and play, throw confidently, throw to guys who I believed in to go get the football and make plays. Really at the end of the day, that’s what it was. Arthur does a great job of pushing the envelope of keeping defenses on their toes.”

It helps to have two of the best offensive players in football—Henry and shooting-star wideout A.J. Brown—to build a game plan around. But this team’s fun, and will continue to be, because the offensive coordinator is not afraid of calling anything, and his head coach backs him, and he knows, like his mentor Gibbs, that offensive versatility is offensive strength. Tennessee’s not going to be a one-year wonder.

Read more from Peter King’s Football Morning in America column here.

NFL quarterback rankings 2023: Chris Simms’ top 40 QB countdown ahead of upcoming NFL season


While the NFL is a league that is ever-changing, some things are set to stay the same in 2023 — like the revealing of Chris Simms’ top 40 QB countdown.

Last year’s list saw Josh Allen take his place atop the quarterback throne, with Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes and Los Angeles’ Justin Herbert not far behind at No. 2 and No. 3, respectively. It was, however, Mahomes who would ultimately reign over all NFL quarterbacks at the end of the season, as the 27-year-old collected both the NFL MVP honors and his second Lombardi Trophy.

This NFL offseason, however, has brought some intriguing adjustments that are likely to shake up Simms’ rankings.

While some signal-callers such as Jalen Hurts and Lamar Jackson found their prolonged home with massive contract signings, others will be venturing to a new franchise in search of a fresh start. Aaron Rodgers‘ trade to the New York Jets is unquestionably the most staggering shift, but other quarterbacks on the move such as Derek Carr and Jimmy Garoppolo cannot be forgotten.

RELATED: Mike Florio gives an inside look into the Lamar Jackson deal

And with three of the first four picks in the 2023 NFL Draft being spent on a quarterback, emerging talent will likely turn the tides for some franchises this upcoming season.

See below for Chris Simms’ top 40 QB countdown ahead of the upcoming season. Be sure to subscribe to Chris Simms Unbuttoned for more on the 2023 NFL season as well as an unfiltered look at the NFL featuring player access, unabashed opinion, X&O film breakdown and stories from a life in and around football.

RELATED: Peter King’s latest offseason NFL power rankings

Chris Simms’ 2023 Top 40 QB Countdown:

40. Desmond Ridder (ATL)

39. Sam Howell (WAS)

38. Bryce Young (CAR)

37. CJ Stroud (HOU)

36. Anthony Richardson (IND)

35. Mike White (MIA)

34. Gardner Minshew (IND)

33. Taylor Heinicke (ATL)

32. Jarrett Stidham (DEN)

31. Jordan Love (GB)

30. Davis Mills (HOU)

29. Tyler Huntley (BAL)

28. Andy Dalton (CAR)

27. Sam Darnold (SF)

26. Brock Purdy (SF)

25. Kenny Pickett (PIT)

24. Baker Mayfield (TB)

23. Justin Fields (CHI)

22. Jimmy Garoppolo (LV)

21. Tua Tagovailoa (MIA)

20. Mac Jones (NE)

19. Kyler Murray (AZ)

18. Derek Carr (NO)

17. Jared Goff (DET)

16. Ryan Tannehill (TEN)

15. Geno Smith (SEA)

14. Russell Wilson (DEN)

2023 NFL Schedule Release: Start time, how to watch, live stream, channel


With another exciting NFL Draft in the books, teams can now turn their gaze toward the road to Super Bowl LVIII in Las Vegas. The path to Super Bowl glory, however, is about to become abundantly more clear with the 2023 NFL season schedule release.

This year’s NFL season schedule release is nearly here, with the entirety of the 2023 NFL schedule being unveiled on Thursday, May 11 at 8 p.m. ET on both Peacock and NFL Network. See below for everything you need to know for one of the offseason’s most anticipated events.

RELATED: Click here for full analysis on Rounds 1-7 of the 2023 NFL Draft

When will the 2023 NFL season schedule be released?

While all 272 matchups have been known since the conclusion of the 2022 regular season, the order and dates for these games have remained a mystery. The secret is nearly out, however, with every NFL game on the brink of revelation.

The full 2023 NFL schedule will be released on Thursday, May 11 at 8:00 p.m. ET.

How can I watch the 2023 NFL season schedule release?

The 2023 NFL season schedule release will take place Thursday, May 11 on Peacock, NFL Network, NFL.com and the NFL app at 8 p.m. ET.

While the entirety of the schedule will be unveiled at that time, select games have already been and will continue to be released prior to the official event. Ahead of the 2023 NFL season schedule release, the following games will be announced:

Who will play in the 2023 NFL Kickoff game?

The first game of the 2023-24 NFL season will see the reigning Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs take the field in Arrowhead Stadium.

The opponent that will meet Patrick Mahomes and company in Kansas City, however, remains to be revealed.

Which NFL teams have international games in 2023?

While the majority of the matchups set to take place next season have yet to be announced, the league has already revealed which teams will head overseas for international showdowns.

Below is the full list of international NFL games for the 2023-24 season, with three in London, U.K., and two in Frankfurt, Germany.

Falcons vs. Jaguars: Week 4, Oct. 1 at 9:30 a.m. ET | Wembley Stadium in London, U.K.

Jaguars vs. Bills: Week 5, Oct. 8 at 9:30 a.m. ET | Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, U.K.

Ravens vs. Titans: Week 6, Oct. 15 at 9:30 a.m. ET | Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, U.K.

Dolphins vs. Chiefs: Week 9, Nov. 5 at 9:30 a.m. ET | Frankfurt Stadium in Frankfurt, Germany

Colts vs. Patriots: Week 10, Nov. 12 at 9:30 a.m. ET | Frankfurt Stadium in Frankfurt, Germany

RELATED: NFL’s 2023 international games full of “star power”

When is the Super Bowl and where will it be taking place?

Stars will be shining bright in Las Vegas, Nevada, for Super Bowl LVIII, set to take place on Feb. 11, 2024, at the home of the Raiders in Allegiant Stadium.

This will be the first Super Bowl to ever take place in Las Vegas, which hosted the 2023 Pro Bowl and 2022 NFL Draft.

Be sure to follow ProFootballTalk for the latest news, updates, and storylines about the upcoming NFL season!