National Football League
Why new Titans WR trio can supercharge QB Will Levis, Tennessee offense
National Football League

Why new Titans WR trio can supercharge QB Will Levis, Tennessee offense

Published Jul. 9, 2024 6:13 p.m. ET

Even when the Titans' shaky offensive line protected long enough for Will Levis to get passes off last season, his playmaking opportunities were still limited. 

Tennessee pass-catchers not named DeAndre Hopkins couldn't consistently create against man coverage. Collectively, Titans wide receivers averaged just 3.3 yards of separation from the nearest defender at the arrival of a pass, tied for 22nd in the NFL, according to Next Gen Stats. It played a key role in what was a lackluster passing attack. 

Under new coach Brian Callahan, the wide receiver room has morphed into a strength.

"[Levis] doesn't have to be stressed out over just trying to make sure you're making the right play every time because you got guys now," wide receiver Tyler Boyd said last month. "You don't got to kill yourself or do the most just to make a play." 


In Hopkins, Boyd and Calvin Ridley — the latter two inked free-agent deals with the Titans this offseason — Tennessee now has one of the league's top wide receiver trios on paper. They've combined for 11 1,000-yard receiving seasons, 1,765 receptions and 22,713 receiving yards. 

Though on the older side — Hopkins is 32, while Ridley and Boyd are 29 — all three receivers have proved they're still effective players. Hopkins and Ridley are coming off 1,000-yard seasons. Boyd registered his sixth straight 600-yard campaign in 2023. 

The trio represents the best collective receiver talent the franchise has had in its Tennessee era.

"It helps a ton," Callahan said of what the trio means for Levis. "They've got great knowledge and experience. Productive players in the league. They've done it. And that helps when you've got a young quarterback that is a full-time starter for the first time. Having a veteran presence, a veteran perspective, veteran opinions will help his development. I believe that."

Outside of Hopkins, who had 1,057 receiving yards last season, no other Titan had more than tight end Chig Okonkwo's 527. Tennessee's second-leading wide receiver was Chris Moore with 424 receiving yards. The team's wide receivers totaled just 2,262 receiving yards, 24th in the league, per NGS.

The Titans now live in a reality where they have three wide receivers who have an "elite trait," according to offensive coordinator Nick Holz. 

"Calvin has great speed and burst off the ball — vertical, change of direction," Holz said. "Tyler is so smooth in and out of his cuts, and kind of has a great understanding in the slot and how to work coverages in the system. DeAndre probably has the strongest hands of anybody in the league. 

"It's great to have guys that are all good at everything," he continued, "but they also have one thing where you're like, ‘This is an advantage for us.'" 

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In Callahan's offense, Boyd sees their different skill sets being complementary, which he's learned is key to the success of wide receiver trios. 

He was part of one in Cincinnati, where he teamed up with Ja'Marr Chase and Tee Higgins to form one of the league's most explosive receiving attacks the past few seasons. 

"I've been in this offense for a while, and like every given play is for a certain type of player," Boyd explained. "Not to say any of us can't run the same route or do the same thing. It's just that on a specific playcall when we're all on different positions on the field, you kind of understand, ‘This is what needs to be done. This is who's going to be the one on this certain look.'

"We all can play," Boyd added. "It's just how do we complement each other? How well can we do things off of each other? How can I help Ridley get open? How can I drag the nickel down and free him up to get open? … [Hopkins and Ridley], those guys are talents. Myself as well. We just have to do a good job of locking in, knowing the scheme of the offense and just being detailed. With that being said, the confidence level will just take us to the highest level." 

Are the Titans being slept on?

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Entering his 12th NFL season, Hopkins has been his team's No. 1 wide receiver by a substantial margin for most of his career (the exception being his first two years, when he played alongside soon-to-be Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee Andre Johnson). So Hopkins is very excited about the potential of this group. 

The five-time Pro Bowler won't get too ahead of himself, though. 

"Obviously, I can come up here and say a bunch, but we haven't played a game yet," Hopkins said. "So we'll see how it goes once we hit the field."

For Levis and the Titans, the expectation is more open targets. 

Ben Arthur is the AFC South reporter for FOX Sports. He previously worked for The Tennessean/USA TODAY Network, where he was the Titans beat writer for a year and a half. He covered the Seattle Seahawks for for three seasons (2018-20) prior to moving to Tennessee. You can follow Ben on Twitter at @benyarthur.


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