Entries in Derrick Henry (4)

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.  

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. 

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.

Sunday
Aug282016

Titans Cut Roster Plus Titans @ Chargers Postgame Thoughts

Roster Cuts

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.