Entries in Kevin Byard (4)

Thursday
Oct262017

310 - Titans @ Browns & Midseason Review

Wednesday
Oct112017

Mid-Week Take: Titans @ Dolphins

 

The Titans travelled to Miami with high hopes of getting back on track against a Dolphins team that couldn't score. However, the Titans proved that they still had a hangover from the Texans game, losing to the Dolphins 16-10. This game more than any in recent history showed how much the Titans depend upon a healthy Mariota. 

Missing Mariota

Not only did Matt Cassel only produce 141 yards pass on 21 completions, he certainly wasn't a threat to run the ball. When he did appear he might take off and run the Dolphins defense pounced on the aging veteran to prove to him and the rest of us that he is no Mariota. He did throw for an improbable TD to Supernaw, but on another drive fumbled the ball away for a Dolphins TD. I will say that the offensive line had a lackluster performance partly due to the absence of Taylor Lewan for most of the game. However, Cassel looked like he had happy feet most of the game and his arm looked dead on several of his throws. Mariota also brings a quiet confidence to the huddle that exudes to the rest of the offense, and Cassel obviously doesn't contain this attribute.

Penalties

The Titans had an unusual amount of penalties in the game (11-77 yards), with many coming at crucial times. However, I cannot fault TE Jonnu Smith on the offensive pass interference call against him that took a TD off the board. In reviewing the replay there isn't a single person (other than Dolphins' fans) that would say that was OPI. However, this inopportune misfortune was the start of events that created a 14 point swing, with the Dolphins returning the aforementioned fumble for the TD two plays later. Smith was called for 3 penalties for 25 yards, Lewan - 3 for a total of 5 yards (2 were declined), Cassel - 3 delay of game penalties, Supernaw - 2 comical back-to-back false start penalties that ended in a TD catch, and Weems - 2 penalties for 15 yards. This team were not mentally in this game and it showed.

Defensive Success

The defense only allowed 10 points and 3 of those came on a short field when DeMarco Murray fumbled deep in Titans' territory. The defense was able to force 2 turnovers of their own, a fumble recovery by Byard (forced by Jackson) and an interception by Smith. However, the team was only able to gather one sack (Casey), but did harass Cutler for most of the game. They only allowed a total of 178 yards on the day, and seemed to clean up many of the issues from the previous week.

Special Teams

Although my prediction of a special teams touchdown didn't happen, there was plenty of praise to go around for them. Brett Kern is having a Pro Bowl year. He had 10 punts with a net average of 50 yards! Kicking from his own end zone, he had one punt that travelled around 71 yards and pushed the Dolphins back into their side of the field. Also, Ryan Succop had a record setting day, tying the NFL record for most consecutive FGs under 50 yards (46). Unfortunately, the return game didn't have a real chance to get going in this game which could have easily made the difference for the Titans.

Other Positives

 

  • Although Eric Decker only caught 4 balls for 34 yards, he was the leading receiver for the day. He also showed that he is starting to settle into the Titans offense nicely.
  • Kevin Byard's 2 takeaway in as many games proves he has a knack for being near the ball at the right time. I expect to see more takeaways coming his way soon.

 

Conclusion

Although this loss hurts more because it was a very winnable game, the Titans can get going in the right direction again with a win Monday night against a division foe in the Colts. This team has a real chance to catch the Colts at the right time without Andrew Luck and go 2-1 in the AFC South. However, there is one huge question that is still lingering in my mind that just might frame this season... With all the lingering, apparently minor injuries that are keeping players out of the lineup week after week, are the Titans too soft?

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.

Tuesday
Nov082016

Titans Fans, Take A Deep Breath 

During the game against the Chargers I was reading the comments from Titans fans on Twitter, and after each Titans' mistake person after person threw up their collective hands and gave up on the entire season. I have to admit, it was extremely difficult to watch the team go from a 2 point lead to being down by 15. On top of that, Mariota cost the team by throwing 2 interceptions (resulting in 10 points) and a fumble (resulting in 7 points). These 17 points certainly cost the team the win. 

However, Mariota is making huge strides. He threw for 3 TDs and was 27-of-43 for 313 yards. He is showing real leadership skills and a deeper understanding on how to run Terry Robiskie's offense. Also, if you look back on the quarterbacks this team has endured over the last 5 years (Mettenberger, Locker, Fitzpatrick, Whitehurst, Hasselbeck), he is by far the best of the bunch. He also has a huge upside. As much as I hate interceptions, we are finding out that one of the two interceptions was an poorly run route by Kendall Wright, and the other was just a spectacular read by the defensive back. The real problem with Mariota is his fumbles. This is lesson that can be taught.

There are other positives that came out of the game against the Chargers. Rookie Kevin Byard is showing that he coming into mid-season stride and has improved his understanding of what the team needs from him. He had 9 tackles (5 solo 4 assists). He was consistently a disruption, and played a good game. Also, DaQuan Jones came through with 8 tackles (7 solo 1 assist), Jurrell Casey had 8 tackles (5 solo 3 assists), and Wesley Woodyard had 5 solo tackles and 1 sack.

On the offensive side of the ball, Rishard Matthews is continuing to prove that he is bucking the trend of failed wide receiver free agents. He had 6 catches for 63 yards and 2 TDs. Kendall Wright is still making nice catches (2 for 64 yards), and even though DeMarco Murray didn't have over 100 yards rushing, he did have 51 yards on 14 carries (3.64 yds/carry) and 1 TD. His touchdown run was what we need to see from a determine back.

The big unspoken news in this game, which is also a piece of good news, is that the special teams unit didn't have any huge failures. There were no missed extra points, no allowed touchdown returns, and no special teams turnovers. This is a breath of fresh air in itself, and deserves some kudos for this unit.

So, in conclusion, Titans fans please take a step back, a deep breath, and realize that this season was building on the positives and not a Super Bowl run. All that is required is that we should all show up, cheer loudly, and keep the faith.