I was lucky enough to attend the game on Sunday and although I was extremely disappointed in the outcome there are some real positives to take away.
This offense had me scratching my head. Calling yourself "exotic smashmouth" doesn't make it so. With only 22 rushing attempt, 64 rushing yards, and 0 touchdowns, there wasn't any smashmouth, and with stupid little "cute-sy" 3rd and 1 calls that fail miserably, there isn't any exotic. I believe this was a real instance of the coaching staff over thinking the situation.
We saw brief flashes from both Derrick Henry and DeMarco Murray. I have got to believe that there are good things just waiting to happen when the plan is there. Both contributed in the passing game too with a huge run after the catch from Henry and 2 TDs from Murray.
Tajae Sharpe also had a nice debut. It wasn't flashy, but it was making the tough catches when we needed them. He didn't have any touchdowns, but with 7 receptions for 76 yards he had the best day of any of the Titans receivers.
Also, Jack Conklin had a nice quiet day. With offensive linemen that is the best that can happen.
As I already mentioned, the offensive play calling was over-thought. One of the things we felt as fans is that the Titans would show raw aggression and punch the other team right in the mouth. However, the coaching staff was trying to do some sort of cheap slight of hand that didn't fool anyone. The best teams use the talents of their players to their advantage. I'm not sure this plan had that in mind.
Taylor Lewan knows he needs to clean up the mental mistakes, but for some reason they keep happening. He is a very good player, but if he wants to be this generation's Bruce Matthews or Mike Munchack then he will definitely need to grow mentally stronger.
Finally, and maybe the most disappointing, Marus Mariota had two critical mistakes that literally cost the team the game. He played well otherwise, but these mistakes must stop to ensure he is the quarterback we so desperately need. I truly believe he will snap back this week. I just hope we don't see any more relapses this season.
The defense had a much more steady game. There isn't enough there to lay out true "pros" and "cons", but there are some things that can be addressed here nonetheless.
The defensive backs are getting better, but there has to be a moment when the close plays need to go the Titans' way. Too many times the Vikings' receivers were closely covered, but were able to come down with the pass. The DBs need to figure out how to tip some of those passes away.
The front seven did a great job of stopping Adrian Peterson. They held him to only 31 yards on 19 carries. That is outstanding! They showed time and time again gang-tackling at it's best. The one glaring thing this group failed to do was put real pressure on Shaun Hill.
This is just the first game, but it was a crucial home game. The team really needs to win the "hearts and minds" of the local fan base again, and if they can't win the ones they are clearly winning at the half then they will never again be anything except the basement of the AFC South.
The Titans have made their first round of cuts. The following players will be seeking other teams (or even other jobs). Here are the initial cuts:
- S Lamarcus Brutus - 2016 rookie undrafted free agent from Florida State
- OL Will Campbell
- WR Donte Foster - signed with Titans in August 2016 after spending the last 2 years bouncing from team to team
- LB Amarlo Herrera
- WR Reece Horn - 2016 rookie undrafted free agent from University of Indianapolis
- LB Deiontrez Mount - 2nd year player, drafted by the Titans in 2015 (6th round)
- CB Tyler Patmon - 3rd year player that has spent time with the Dolphins and Cowboys
- OT Nick Ritcher - 2016 rookie undrafted free agent from the University of Richmond
- DE Mike Smith - 2016 rookie undrafted free agent from Southern Mississippi
- CB Blidi Wreh-Wilson - 2013 3rd round draft pick for the Titans
- C Andy Galick - injured 2015 6th round draft pick for the Titans
- DL Ropati Pitoitua - 6 seasons in the NFL, 3 with the Titans
None of these players were a real surprise, but in the case of Wreh-Wilson all I have to say is "It's about time!" He, along with already-gone Coty Sensabaugh were among the biggest disappointments the Titans have drafted recently memory. He consistently missed assignments, missed tackles, and missed expectations.
Deiontrez Mount was a nice fill-in for our injury depleted team, but he clearly didn't have a spot on this "new" roster.
The only player I really wish could have made the transition to this new team is Andy Galick. Unfortunately, he has spent too much time injured and didn't quite have the range of skills this team really needs. I wish him well and hope that he can recover in time to make another team.
As a side note, I will miss saying "Ropati Pitoitua". Great NFL Name!
Titans @ Chargers Report
After watching this game I can only say this was a great game and a horrible game. I know it seems like you can't have both, but this game showed that this offensive squad, although unpolished, is ready for the regular season. There were flashes of greatness in Mariota. He actually looked like Steve Young at times. The combination of Demarco Murray and Derrick Henry are downright scary for opposing defenses. This offensive line is bashing their counterparts to open gaping holes that even someone like Bishop Sankey can run through. The receiving corps is actually catching passes and running the correct routes. Tajae Sharpe has been a complete stud and given every Titans fan true hope where there hasn't been since the departure of Derrick Mason.
On the horrible side, this defense is having some real difficulties stopping the pass, especially when it is a running back out of the backfield. In each of these first 3 pre-season games, there has been a running back for that catches a pass without a Titan within 15 or 20 yards. Our LB's seem to be confused about their responsibility. Also, we are rarely getting pressure on the QB. This may be a result of the vanilla defense we are showing, so I'll hold off on the bitch fest about that until the regular season. Finally, we can't seem to keep our starting CBs healthy, and our backups are horrible. Antwon Blake has shown that he is no where near a starting CB. Perrish Cox and Jason McCourty have only played a series or two on the field at the same time. Our problems at DB can be handled with a good pass rush, so again, I will hold off on the whining until we are playing for real. I did like Kevin Dodd finally making an appearance on the field. However, I have to say that I'm a little confused as to his position. He is listed on the depth chart for linebackers, but he played with his hand in the dirt as DE in the game. I'm not sure how to take that. Also the two rookie DBs (Kalin Reed and LeShaun Sims) played decent with Reed getting a tackle and an interception, and Sims getting a tackle. Neither are ready to gain a starting role, but it's a start.
Another area that is of a little concern is the return game. We have yet to solidify that position. None of the people we have tried have had much of a "wow factor", but at least they haven't turned over the ball yet. If they can at least get the team a starting point beyond the 20 yard line (maybe the 25 with the new rules this year), then I will be satisfied.
The game showed the faithful that the offense can score, although the first team needs to be able to finish more drives with a TD instead of a FG. However, again, the defense has yet to stop an opening drive... very disturbing. I'm beginning to think that our middle linebackers might be a weak point on this team. Williamson and Woodyard can't seem to cover in open space, and the middle of the field is where the running game has been the most successful against them.
I will say that this pre-season has shown that this team has much more depth than in the last few years. That's what happens when you bring in a GM that has all the appearances of knowing what he is doing.
Right now I see this team as a high scoring team, but can they score as much as the defense allows is the real question. I can only hope that Dick LaBeau has some tricks up his sleeve that will give Titans' fans something to cheer about.