Entries in American Football (12)

Saturday
Oct292016

Finally, What We Have All Been Waiting For...

Marcus Mariota and the Tennessee Titans came into Thursday night's game against the Jacksonville Jaguars reeling from a recent disappointing home loss to the Indianapolis Colts, and show the home fans what they've been waiting to see for more than a season. The offense ran up 27 first half points and 354 yards (more than any other team this season for a half of football). The defense held the Jags to zero points and only 60 yards in the first half. Even the special teams didn't make any first half mistakes.

In the last 4 games, the offense has been scoring the number of points this team needs to win (30, 28, 34, and 36). Mariota has thrown 10 TDs with only 1 interception and 949 yards, Murray has rushed for 406 yards and 3 TDs, Walker has 146 yards receiving and 2 TDs, Matthews has 177 yards receiving and 3 TDs, and Wright has 229 yards and 2 TDs. In the game against the Jaguars, Mariota was particularly sharp and now seems to be in complete sync with Offensive Coordinator Terry Robiskie. The offensive line has been especially strong in their part of the "Exotic Smashmouth" scheme. Although both Murray and Derrick Henry are slow starters in each game, they finish with a kick, and in most cases have had strong performances. Although there isn't a huge stand out in our receiving corps, there are a cohesive unit without huge egos to get in the way.

The defense has been cranking up the pressure on the QB too. Although the secondary has shown some definite cracks and the linebackers have had trouble covering the running backs and tight ends, the defense as a whole has kept the team close enough to win every game. Derrick Morgan has 5 1/2 sacks, and Brian Orakpo and Jurrell Casey have 3 sacks each in the last 4 games. They have only allowed 220 total rushing yards as well, with Avery Williamson getting 28 tackles alone.

The only piece of this team that seems to be seriously lagging behind is the Special Teams unit. They have allowed returns for touchdowns, missed extra points, failed to recover onside kicks, and received critical penalties. All of this has actually cost the team points and very likely cost the team at least one win. In all likelihood, this team could be sitting in first place if this unit were to stop making so many mistakes. It has already cost one job on the team. It might cost more before the end of the season if things don't get better.

Even with one of these units not pulling their weight, this team looks poised to take over the AFC South. 

Thursday
Sep292016

284 - Titans vs. Raiders Review & Titans @ Texans Preview

Thursday
Sep222016

283 - Titans @ Lions Review & TItans vs. Raiders Preview

Thursday
Sep152016

282 - Titans vs Vikings Review & Titans @ Lions Preview

Monday
Sep122016

Titans vs. Vikings Post-Game Thoughts

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. 

Offense

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.

Pros

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. 

Cons

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.

Defense

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.

Finally

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.