Dion Lewis was supposedly a big get for the Tennessee Titans in the 2018 offseason. Tennessee was stuck in the old ways, having 2 battering rams at running back with no change of pace behind those 2.
Lewis was signed to a 4 year $19.8M contract in 2018 and came into the year with plenty expectations. Lewis was the better back between him and Derrick Henry at the time. He was trusted more on 2nd and 3rd & longs, limiting Henry to predictable first down and short yardage carries.
Of course, Matt LaFleur tried to create roles for both that seemed fair. But early on, it ended up with Lewis being THE guy for passing downs and some of those early down carries Henry seemed to only command.
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Then Derrick Henry went on an absolute tear as we know.
With that happening, Lewis’ carries went down and fast.
Lewis had 10 or more carries in 7 of the first 10 games the Titans played in 2018. When Henry went on his historic run, Lewis only received 10 carries just once.
So you tell yourself, of course he isn’t only there to get carries. He brings more of a dynamic skill set to the team, more than you could say Henry does.
Lewis never got 10 receptions in a game for the Titans. In which the receiving core, outside of Corey Davis, struggled mightily. He did, however, come up big against the Eagles in week 4 and on Monday Night Football against the Cowboys.
Nothing more other than those 2 performances though.
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With that in mind, the question of Lewis’ role on the offense is a bit in question. Now I’ll only say a little due to the departure of Matt LaFleur. Plus the lack of information or better yet experience, from newly hired offensive coordinator Arthur Smith.
What will Smith do with the shifty running back? Will he increase his carries or even get him split out wide more to maximize his role as a pass catcher? It’s hard to answer these questions specifically.
Due to his success in the last quarter of the season, Henry will start out with a more prominent role in the offense. Will we see another fluke with Henry? Where he ends the season on a high note, but comes into the year with subpar play? If that indeed is the case, then I believe Smith will then rely heavily on the 6 year veteran.
It’s also not wise to bank on him coming on as a pass catcher. Due to the Titans’ receiving group getting needed reinforcements in the offseason. Also due to the Titans’ expected preference to run the ball early and often.
If Lewis’ role decreases even further, the Titans could look to cut ties with him after the 2019 season. As Lewis’ deal can be shed from the books with the Titans only being penalized a mere $1.1M against their salary cap.
Without some sort of massive struggles from Derrick Henry and a franchise altering offensive philosophy change, Dion Lewis looks to be in a tough spot heading into the 2019 season.
If that tough spot leads to a chopping block of Lewis, it’ll go down as a waste of a skill set by the Titans.