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A Look Back: Highlights, Lowlights from 2015 Season

Posted Jan 8, 2016

TitansOnline.com Senior Writer and Editor Jim Wyatt looks at some of the highlights – and lowlights – from the 2015 season.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The 2015 season didn’t turn out like fans hoped it would.

But that doesn’t mean the season was a lost cause.

Here’s a look at some of the highlights – and lowlights – from the year.

Offensive Player of the Year

Tight end Delanie Walker

Walker led the Titans in receptions (94) and receiving yards (1,088), during a season when he led all NFL tight ends in catches. Walker caught at least six passes in 11 games, and he had at least 60 receiving yards in 10 games despite being the focus of opposing defenses. He also scored a team-high six touchdowns.

Defensive Player of the Year

Defensive Lineman Jurrell Casey

Like Walker on offense, opposing teams regularly focused on slowing down Casey. The big defensive lineman was disruptive anyway. Pro Football Focus graded Casey as the team’s best defender during a season when he tied for the team lead with seven sacks and also had 86 tackles, 28 quarterback pressures and 11 tackles for a loss.

Special Teams Player of the Year

Punter Brett Kern

Kern put up some big numbers. He punted the ball 88 times, and his 47.4-yard gross average was second in franchise history. Kern’s 40.3-yard net average was third in franchise history, and he had a career-high 34 punts inside the 20, which was third in franchise history. He had only one touchback.

Best rookie

Quarterback Marcus Mariota

Mariota broke several franchise rookie records in 2015, including most touchdown passes (19), completions (230), passing yards (2,818) and passing attempts (370) while playing in 12 games. He completed three or more touchdown passes on four different occasions during his rookie season. He added plenty of excitement, and reason for optimism moving forward.

Most underrated

Linebacker Avery Williamson

In his second season as a starter, Williamson led the team with 137 tackles. The fifth round pick from 2014 had at least 10 tackles in six games, and at least 15 tackles on two separate occasions. Williamson also produced 3.5 sacks with 13 quarterback pressures, and nine tackles for a loss.

Best free agent acquisition

Linebacker Brian Orakpo

Orakpo, who spent the first part of his career with the Redskins, ended the season with 64 tackles, and he tied for the team lead with seven sacks. He had a team high 37 quarterback pressures, and 12 tackles for a loss. Plus, he helped set a tone on defense.

Most improved

Defensive lineman DaQuan Jones

Jones started the final game of the 2014 season, and then earned the starting spot for 2015 with a solid offseason. The second-year pro did a lot of dirty work in 2015 while producing 67 tackles with 15 quarterback pressures.

Most costly injury

Linebacker Derrick Morgan

Morgan had 4.5 sacks in the first four games, and appeared to be on the verge of a monster year. But he suffered a shoulder injury in the sixth game against the Falcons. Morgan tried to play through the injury, but he wasn’t as effective. Eventually, the decision was made to shut him down. The Titans also missed cornerback Jason McCourty, but the loss of Morgan slowed down the pass rush and hurt the secondary.

Best game

November 8, at New Orleans – 34-28 win

In Mike Mularkey’s first game as interim coach, the Titans rallied to win in overtime as Mariota threw for 371 yards and four touchdowns. Tight end Anthony Fasano caught the game-winning touchdown pass in overtime.

Worst game

December 13, at New York Jets – 30-8 loss

The home loss to the Dolphins in October wasn’t pretty, but the loss to the Jets was really ugly. The Titans fell behind 27-0 by halftime, and the defense committed a huge blunder by leaving Jets receiver Brandon Marshall uncovered at the end of the first half.

Play of the Year

Mariota’s 87-yard TD run vs the Jaguars

Mariota threw some memorable touchdown passes, and the deflected pass Walker caught and ran for a touchdown against the Saints was memorable. Mariota’s record-breaking run against the Jaguars wins this category, however. It came in a win, and the fans at Nissan Stadium on December 6 celebrated wildly when he crossed the goal line at the end of the run.

Best trend

The Titans committed the second fewest penalties in the NFL (93), and finished tied for second in the league in fewest penalty yards (779). These numbers improved significantly under Mularkey.

Worst trend

The defense went out on a sour note, allowing at least 30 points in each of the last five games. Opposing quarterbacks completed 63.5 percent of their passes with a 101.3 rating.