Entries in Delanie Walker (4)

Tuesday
Oct032017

Mid-Week Take: Titans @ Texans

 

As much as I feel like the game against the Seahawks was an awakening for this organization, I equally feel like this game against the Texans was a huge step back. This type of game is hard not to sound the doom and gloom, but all is not lost. Yes, the Titans were beaten by over 40 points. Yes, it was against a divisional opponent. Yes, the defense played one of their worst game in several years. Yes, there didn't seem to be any adjustments during the game as it got further and further out of hand. However, there are 12 games left and they are still tied for 1st place in the division.

The Titans, once again, came off another emotional win, but ran into a juggernaut offense with DeSean Watson at the helm. The Titans' offense also must have thought that they needed to get all their turnovers for the season in this game. With 4 interceptions and one fumble, there was no way for the offense to mount any serious competition in the scoring department.

Mariota

Marcus Mariota had a rough day passing the ball (6 comp 10 attempts 96 yards 2 int). However, he had a good day running the ball (4 att 39 yards 2 TD). On the flip side of that, he injured his hamstring on the second TD run (and might have taken himself out for the next week or two.) This led to the complete breakdown of the Titans offense with the inability of Matt Cassell to come in and mount any sort of comeback (much less any offense) . In fact, Cassell accounted for 3 of the 5 Titans' turnovers. Mariota also still struggled with throwing to his right, and reverted back to lofting the ball too much on short-to-medium routes. Even with all these problems, and for a game where nothing seem to go right, Mariota remained one of the few bright spots.

Defensive Backs

Okay, so WTF was going on here? There was so few positive plays that it's almost not worth mentioning. However, I will nonetheless. Kevin Byard's interception was a long time coming, and proves that he is still progressing in this defense. The rest of the DBs were completely helpless. Why was Brice McCain covering DeAndre Hopkins when he couldn't cover their 4th WR much less Hopkins. Why were every Texans WR allowed to run free without being hand-checked at the line of scrimmage? Why did the DBs have so much trouble communicating during the Texans no-huddle offense? How did so many TEs and RBs roam free in the flats, allowing Watson to have a field day? Finally, how were the Titans' defensive coaching staff completely outwitted at every turn? These questions need to be solved before this Sunday's game against the Dolphins. 

Coaching Decisions

Speaking of poor decisions by the Titans' defensive coaches, the coaching staff as a whole let down this team. Offensively, the play calling seemed unimaginative for the most part and down right overly predictable in the first half of the game. The 1st quarter the Titans went 3-and-out on 3 straight drives. In the 2nd quarter the Titans woke up, scoring 2 TDs, but were already behind by 3 TDs at the start of the quarter. The game-plan at this point was out the window, and it seemed that the coaches weren't prepared to handle this scenario. Coming out from halftime, the Titans weren't ready to answer the call and reverted back to their 1st quarter performance. The 4th quarter ended up being a complete debacle, rounding out an utter breakdown of a poorly planned and poorly executed game plan.

Another Slow Start

The Titans had another game where their opening quarter was little more than an exercise in futility. They have only scored 10 points in the 1st quarter in 4 games with 0 points in the last 2 games. The Titans have proven that they can come back, but I would rather play with the lead instead of constantly counting on 2nd half heroics. 

Positive Takeaways?

 

  • Delanie Walker continues to prove that he is an elite TE. He had crucial catches in the game to give the team glimmers of hope.
  • Brett Kern is having a Pro Bowl type season. He average 48.4 yards on 5 punts.
  • Rishard Matthews makes some of the best catches on this team. He aggressively attaches the ball, high-pointing it better than this team has seen in the last 5 years. I see him being a bigger part of this offense once Corey Davis returns to take off some of the heat.

 

Conclusion

The Titans have the talent to win, but need better game plans and execution if they expect to make the playoffs this season. With the upcoming schedule, there is real potential to be 5-2 at the bye week. Facing the Dolphins away (1-2), Colts at home (1-3), and Browns away (0-4) is not as easy as it seems. So, don't go crazy Titans' fans. However, this might be our best shot in many seasons to pull away from the pack.

Thursday
Sep212017

Mid-Week Take: Titans @ Jaguars

 

Now that the excitement has died down over the "payback" win over the Jags, I can take a more honest approach to what I think went right and what really looks like it needs some work.

After the Titans and Jaguars opening weekends, the Titans faithful were worried how their team would fair against this Jags defense that racked up 10 sacks against the Texans. Specifically how the Titans' offensive line could slow down Calais Campbell after his 4 sack performance. Also, in the opening weekend the Titans faced, what many thought, was a poor-to-mediocre defense in the Raiders, and were only able to put up 16 points with an anemic running game and a passing game that seem to be still working out the preseason kinks. Yet the fan-base new they could count on one person to soothe the Titans' opening game woes... Blake Bortles.

Blake Bortles, Mr. Turnover

Bortles was responsible for 3 Jaguars turnovers, but that only led to 2 Titans' field goals. However, that really fired up the Tennessee defense that was able to hold rookie RB Leonard Fornette to 40 yards on 14 carries and a meaningless 4th quarter TD. It seems as though every time this Jaguars team starts to get confidence, Blake Bortles is able to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory and this past Sunday was no different. Bortles had 223 yards on 20 completions out of 34 attempts and 1 TD with those 2 interceptions. However, once again, many of these yards and the TD came later in the game when the outcome was all but decided.

Jonnu Smith

The rookie TE for the Titans had his first TD of his young career on the first drive in the 4th quarter. With a convoy of offensive linemen he was all but untouched for a 32 yard screen pass that looked more like a well-blocked punt return than an offensive play. However, there were negatives in the game for the rookie too. On the only blemish that appeared on Mariota's stat line, Smith appeared to overrun a route that led to the interception. Mariota didn't throw a great ball, but Smith was a major contributor to the turnover. Smith came away with 30 yards on 2 receptions and the TD. Congrats Rook!

Adoree Jackson

Another rookie that seems to get better with every snap is CB Adoree Jackson. The return game has missed even the hint of excitement until the addition of Jackson. His 46 yard punt return in the middle of the 3rd quarter seemed to completely and permanently move the momentum in the favor of the Titans. Not only did he awaken the special teams beast, but his DB play has improved. He is by no means perfect in his coverage, but he is showing that he is a sure tackler. I also feel like once he becomes more comfortable with the defense that he will begin to play more aggressively and come away with some interceptions.

Derrick Henry

Henry showed us all that he can not only be a temporary fill-in for Murray, but left many fans wondering if now is the time for him to be the primary running back. I would encourage those people to calm down and remember that these two backs compliment each other in a way that few one-two punches do. With Murray out this does limit the blocking schemes of the offensive line. Murray is more of a cut-back runner and loves to run between the tackles. However, Henry is either all downhill or a bounce runner that looks to push it to one sideline or the other. That being said he had a magnificent game, and also the best game of his career so far. Henry carried the ball 14 times for 92 yards and a touchdown.

More Positives

 

  • DB Curtis Riley got the first interception of his career off a tipped pass in the second quarter.
  • S Da'Norris Searcy also was able to pluck an interception off another tipped pass in the 3rd quarter
  • Taywan Taylor had a beautiful 42 yard reception with a graceful, diving catch that moved the Titans into the Red Zone.
  • Jalston Fowler doesn't get talked about enough for his blocking, but he also had a TD on a 3 yard dive to seal the deal for the Titans in the 4th quarter.
  • Delanie Walker is quietly becoming the most important TE in the league. I can see where some might just say "Gronk who?" in the near future.

 

Conclusion

The Titans came out with a slow start mainly due to the fact they had players that were trying to push themselves through nagging injuries. Once Murray and Davis took a seat and Mariota got into his groove, the offense came together nicely and put the Jags away. This game was not even close in the second half and even though the Jags scored 16, this was in desperation only while the Titans' defense was playing off a little. I know it's early in the season, but the Titans now sit atop the standings (taking the tie-breakers into account) and can distance themselves from the rest of the AFC South in the next 3 games. Now is the time for the coaching staff and players to step on the neck of a division that seems in complete disarray.  

Tuesday
Sep122017

Mid-Week Take: Titans vs. Raiders

I've now had a few days to process the 2017 season opener, read fan thoughts and complaints, and heard all the "talking heads" theorize over what happened. Now, I guess it's my turn to chime in and give my analysis.

The Titans' fan base came into this game with the hopes of improvement and dreams of a playoff run, and many of what I heard from the hopefuls was that these were the same old Titans. However, this is not what I saw in the game. Yes, there were mistakes by players and the coaching staff, but if we look past the over inflated expectations and get real with ourselves, we will see that there are plenty of positive take-aways from this game (and therefore hope still exists for this season).

Season Opening Onside Kick

I'm not totally against this choice by the coaching staff. Historically, the Titans don't play well from behind, and against a high powered offense like the Raiders it would be better to have the first crack at taking the lead. Unfortunately, the special teams unit misfired on many levels in this play alone. Succop didn't get the ball to bounce in any meaningful way. The lead gunner didn't "blow up" the rookie returner like most onside kicks are designed. Finally, the coaching staff didn't educate the special teams unit thoroughly enough on the execution of this play. I don't care how many times you say "lack of execution" on the part of the players, it boils down to the coaching staff and preparation.

Titans Response/Opening Drive

The Titans' offense responded on a 12 play, 75 yard TD drive. They converted 3 - 3rd and longs, with passes of 19 yards (Matthews), 9 yards (Matthews), and 23 yards (Davis). Murray had 5 carries for 14 yards. Not impressive, but it was enough to keep the Raiders' defense respecting the Titans' run game. Finally, we saw that Mariota still has his legs and raced around the left side, with a sweet block by Delanie Walker, for 10 yards and the touchdown.

Marcus Mariota

Speaking of Mariota, some people looked at his day as "okay", but with many of what people are calling misfires were simply the lack of chemistry with his receiving corps and a few incorrectly run routes. Mariota had 24 completions on 41 attempts for 256 yards. The key number that wasn't in the stat line (other than TDs) is that he didn't turn the ball over. I venture to say that he may have never had a game where he threw the ball at least 40 times without any turnovers.

Running Game

There was a considerable drop-off in the "Exotic Smashmouth". The Titans only had a total of 95 yards rushing on 21 attempts. However, there were bright spots in a 21 yard gain from Murray, the Mariota TD run, and a nice little 8 yard carry from Henry. The problem in the game is that the Titans continued to get themselves in difficult 3rd down situations where the run game became less and less of an option. There was also a few poor choices in play calls by the coaching staff (like the call on 3rd and 2 from the 7 yard line). There was plenty of blame to go around in the failure of the running game. I still believe that this is something that can be more easily worked out before the Jaguars game.

Some Positives

  • Rishard Matthews came through with some timely catches. He had 5 catches for 71 yards, several to convert 3rd downs. He looks like he has picked back up from last season.
  • Although Corey Davis never took a snap in preseason, he showed us all that he is the real deal. He had 6 catches for 69 yards. His best catch of the day was for 23 yards, high-pointing the ball along the sideline and staying in bounds.
  • Delanie Walker is still a stud. He continues to show us all that he can play this game as long as he wants to play it. With 7 catches for 76 yards (and one killer block), he lead the team in catches and yards.
  • Adoree Jackson was picked on from the first play to the last, but the rookie hung in there. He had one pass interference call go against him, but two nice breakups with one of those taking away a TD. If that weren't enough for a rookie, a kick return that looked like an Olympic event was a beautiful thing to behold and tells us all that he will definitely break one for the distance at some point this season.

 One Final Negative

The Red Zone offense had trouble scoring touchdowns. Again, this appeared to be a combination of poor play calling combined with poor execution. Three times the Titans got into the Red Zone, but came away with only 1 TD and 2 FGs. With the much reported efficiency of Mariota in the Red Zone, he needs to be given more freedom to put the team on his shoulders and make a play.

Conclusion

No loss is a good loss, but this one came very close. We all have to admit to ourselves that this game was going to be a tough one to start the season. We also need to realize that this was only one loss in a 16 game season, and our next few games could catapult us to the top of our division. So, for all you fair-weathered Titans fans, stay tuned for the fireworks instead of falling asleep before it even gets dark.

 

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.