Desperate times call for desperate measures, but this measure is one the Tennessee Titans probably should have made weeks ago. Now, they might not have another choice.
Rookie tight end Chig Okonkwo must be on the field. The numbers speak for themselves.
While Okonkwo, a fourth-round pick from Maryland, has had to play behind veterans Geoff Swaim and Austin Hooper for much of the season, he has been one of the most impactful players in the passing game when he has been on the field.
After Sunday’s four-catch, 68-yard performance, Okonkwo now has 15 receptions and 275 yards receiving. That’s 18.3 yards per catch, a number that far and away leads all Titans pass catchers.
Ask head coach Mike Vrabel or offensive coordinator Todd Downing about Okonkwo and you’ll get predictable answers: “He is improving,” or “We need to find more ways to use him.” Then there is the obligatory praise of his special teams work.
But in this case the numbers don’t lie. For a team starved for playmakers in the passing game, the Titans are going to have to live with giving up a little bit in blocking to get Okonkwo and his receiving skills on the field full time.
That is especially going to be true if Treylon Burks misses time with the concussion he suffered Sunday at Philadelphia. Burks is just now beginning to come into his own, and a combination of the two rookies on the field in the passing game together is the best hope yet that the Titans might shake the offensive funk that has plagued them for most of the season.
But those things can’t happen unless the full complement of snaps is there. Okonkwo has earned a shot; it’s time to take advantage of it.