Entries in Derrick Henry (22)

Thursday
Dec142017

317 - Titans @ Cardinals Review & Titans @ 49ers Preview

Monday
Dec042017

Mid-Week Take: Titans vs. Texans

 

Another Titans win. Another lackluster performance. However, something very different happened in this game... the crowd at Nissan Stadium had a heartbeat. With the game very much in doubt,  the Texans on the move, and the Titans were putting up a valiant effort, the Titans' fanbase rose to their collective feet, causing such a deafening roar that the Texan offensive linemen were confused into three straight false start penalties. This extra 15 yards wasn't enough to end the drive, but it did show the Titans players and coaches that this once proud fanbase has risen from a long slumber.

Running Game

The running game sputtered, but started like a 1970's Beetle; once it starts the reliability is undeniable. Both Murray and Henry carried the ball 11 times, and were both effective in different ways. Murray had flashes of his slashing runs to gain 66 yards (6.0 yards per carry). Henry had minimal gains until his burst of 75 yards at the end of the game where Mariota pitched him the ball in a misdirection to the left. He ended the day with 109 yards (9.9 yards per carry) and a touchdown, breaking the 100-yard barrier for the 2nd time. Mariota also added 23 yards on 3 carries (7.7 yards per carry) and a touchdown. The running game amassed 198 yards; the highest total for the season. Although this total was perhaps overly bolstered by the 75 yard run at the end of the game, it was more than pleasing to see this part of "Exotic Smashmouth" produce something besides 2 yards and a cloud of dust.

Mistake-Free Mariota

Mariota had his first interception-free game since week 7 vs. Cleveland, and he did show some flashes of running the ball with aggression. However, with the exception of Delanie Walker (and perhaps Eric Decker), he has yet to find a real connection with any of his wide receivers. Corey Davis is coming along, but with all honesty appears to need work on his toughness. Taywan Taylor has great speed and elusiveness, but rumors abound that he is not learning the system like he should. Rishard Matthews is an excellent receiver, but there is nothing that really shows a true connection between him and Mariota. I'm not sure this is something that can be solved this season. Most likely needs to happen is an offseason workout between Mariota and one or more of his receivers. If he is the leader we hope we drafted, this will also be in his mind as well.

Defensive Successes

On the other side of the ball, the Titans' defense continues to improve from the last few seasons. The run defense can only be described as "Madden-esque". I can't remember the last time I saw some many tackles for a loss or little-to-no gain. With 14 tackles from the defensive line and an addition 25 tackles added by the linebackers, the defense continues to deny quality running backs from having a big day. On top of that, the defensive backs are immensely better than they were just last year. As much as it pains me to say this, even Brice McCain has improved to the point of not making game-killing errors. This alone is a minor miracle performed by the Dick LeBeau scheme. The defense isn't great yet, but they are definitely very good. I am a firm believer of the old saying, "Offense sells tickets, defense wins championships." If we keep this up, then the Titans can expect to see the playoffs more often in the future.

Conclusion

This team has yet to put together a complete game by all 3 phases, but maybe this team is built in such a way that as long as two phases are performing the Titans can come away with another win. The one thing that no one can deny is this team has come together to find ways to win where, in the past, they would have folded like a house of cards. This has translated into an excitement in the fanbase that is coming to a crescendo at the right time. Right now, all I can say is #TitanUp!

Thursday
Oct192017

309 - Titans vs Colts Review & Titans @ Browns Preview

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.