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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.