On Feb. 13 the 2021 NFL season concluded with a really good Super Bowl where the Los Angeles Rams were victorious over the Cincinnati Bengals. While the Tennessee Titans lost to the Bengals in a really close Divisional Round game, which was disappointing, there was a lot of talent on the Titans roster. Here are the Tennessee Titans 2021 season awards.
Tennessee Titans 2021 Season Team Awards
Most Valuable Player (and Defensive Player of the Year): Kevin Byard
If Derrick Henry had remained healthy, he probably would have been the choice as the Titans MVP, but he only played in eight games. And various players, including A.J. Brown (more on him in a bit) and Jeffery Simmons, deserve to be mentioned. And Harold Landry and Denico Autry deserve recognition in the Defensive Player of the Year discussion. But the Titans MVP (and Defensive Player of the Year) for the 2021 season was Kevin Byard.
Byard was one of a small handful of Titans players who played in all 17 games during the 2021 season. He posted 88 tackles, one sack, one fumble recovery, two forced fumbles, 13 passes defended, and five interceptions (tied for fourth-most in the NFL). He was named to the Pro Bowl and was a First-Team All-Pro. Byard was the only Titans player to be a First-Team All-Pro in 2021 and he finished the season as Pro Football Focus’ highest-graded safety.
Offensive Player of the Year: A.J. Brown
Ryan Tannehill had a shot at receiving Offensive Player of the Year honors for the Titans. But A.J. Brown gets the nod. Sure, Brown missed four games in 2021, but the Titans dealt with a lot of injuries, including at the wide receiver position, this past season. And when the talented receiver was on the field, he was a difference-maker. In 13 games Brown led the team in receptions (63), targets (105), receiving yards (869), and touchdowns (five). And he showed up in big moments as the Titans number one receiver.
When Brown was not healthy, Tennessee’s points-per-game was cut approximately in half. And Tannehill threw only one touchdown in the game full games that Brown missed while he was on IR. Brown was important to the Titans win column too. In the games Brown at least started the Titans went 11-2. They went 1-3 in the games Brown did not play. That is how important the talented receiver was to the Titans in 2021.
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Dillon Radunz
Tennessee selected only three offensive players in last year’s draft: Tackle Dillon Radunz (second round), and wide receivers Dez Fitzpatrick (fourth round) and Racey McMath (sixth round). Fitzpatrick played in just four games (zero starts) and had only five receptions on eight targets for 49 yards and one touchdown. McMath played in nine games (zero starts) and had two catches on just six targets for eight yards and never found the endzone.
Almost by default, this award has to go to Dillon Radunz, who played in 12 games (one start) for the Titans in his rookie campaign. The former North Dakota State lineman played a full season of college football in 2019, but just one game in 2020 before his NFL rookie season. He continued to show improvement throughout the year and had a pretty good day against the San Francisco 49ers in his only start in 2021. The Titans are hoping he can become a dependable and consistent part of their offensive line.
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Elijah Molden
The Titans selected Elijah Molden in the third round (100th overall) of the 2021 NFL Draft. And the former Washington cornerback paid dividends. He showed what he could do in the preseason and that carried over into the regular season, albeit after a slow start.
As a rookie he played in 16 games and started seven. He posted 62 tackles (three for a loss), one forced fumble, four passes defended and a pick six against the Indianapolis Colts. From Weeks 3-17 Molden was one of the best at his position, not just the best defensive rookie on his own team, as evidenced by these numbers from No Flags Film. The Titans certainly hope he continues to display this high level of play and that Caleb Farley can get and stay healthy in year two after he played in only three games his rookie season due to a knee injury.
Most Improved Player: Amani Hooker
Amani Hooker may have had more interceptions in 2020 (four) than he did in 2021 (one), but he improved his play from 2020 in various areas. In 2021 Hookier had 62 tackles (career-high), four passes defended, a forced fumble, and that one interception. In 2020, the completion rate against Hooker was 82.6, but that dropped to 68.6 in 2021. In 2020 Hooker allowed a quarterback rating of 83.2 when he was targeted but in 2021 that improved to 79.3. The Titans secondary has some talent with the likes of Byard, Molden, and Hooker that they can certainly build around going forward.