NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Tennessee Titans‘ defense may have thrown the deciding punch in the team’s win over Jacksonville on Sunday, but the offense threw every other punch.
A Harold Landry interception with 1:38 left in the game put an end to Jacksonville’s attempt at a game-tying drive after the Titans offense came through with yet another scoring drive to give the team the lead.
The defense may have struggled for the Titans on Sunday, but the offense was on fire. It’s time to face the fact that the Titans, a team historically centered around good defense and a power run game, are now an offensive team, and a good one.
POURING ON THE POINTS
Derrick Henry on watching Ryan Tannehill throw four touchdowns on a day Jacksonville sold out to stop Henry: “When he has to deliver, that’s what he does.”
— Kyle Tucker (@KyleTucker_ATH) September 20, 2020
The Titans offense didn’t take long to break out in 2020. After a bumpy first game, albeit one that the Titans won, the offense was crisp and highly efficient in Week Two.
“We were able to make plays,” guard Rodger Saffold said. “Everybody was doing their job, doing the right thing. I think that because we have somewhat of a calmness about us, that allows us to overcome some adversities.”
QB Ryan Tannehill and crew marched down the field for five scoring drives, including a game-winning drive that led to a 49-yard Stephen Gostkowski field goal. The other four scoring drives ended in touchdowns.
It’s not hard to see why the Titans are playing at such a high level so early in the season. Not only does the group have a wide array of talent, but they have a massive continuity advantage—10 of the team’s 11 starters from 2019 are back in 2020.
That carryover allows them to have a sizable sense of confidence.
“When you continue to see people do it over and over again, you make progress in that, you’ll have a sense of trust,” said TE Jonnu Smith, who caught four passes for 84 yards and two touchdowns in the Titans’ win.
“We set a high standard with one another. We know that we’ve got so much ability, and we have belief in one another.”
Perhaps the primary reason why the Titans have such a high standard for themselves is that is their quarterback continues to be nothing short of exceptional.
Tannehill, on Sunday, looked like the version of himself that led the NFL in passer rating and won Comeback Player of the Year in 2019.
He was sharp, decisive and efficient. He finished the day with four touchdown passes, tying a career-high.
“Ryan was definitely on point today, as he is every day,” WR Adam Humphries said.
RB Derrick Henry agreed.
“When we need him to deliver, that’s what he does,” he said.
Asked Kevin Byard what he thinks the defense needs tp clean up moving forward: “Honestly, everything…We missed tackles, couldn’t get to Minshew.
“I will say, it will be nice to do that cleanup work at 2-0.” #Titans
— Luke Worsham (@luke_worsham) September 20, 2020
All of the Titans’ offensive success on Sunday allowed them to overcome a lackluster performance by the defense.
Jaguars QB Gardner Minshew faced hardly any pressure, sitting comfortably in the pocket and picking apart the Titans’ secondary for a majority of the game. He threw for 339 yards and three touchdowns.
RB James Robinson also shined for Jacksonville, carrying the ball 16 times for 102 yards and a score against a front seven that proved to be very leaky for the Titans.
At some point, the Titans’ defense will have to step up and take care of their business.
A performance like this may not have been damning against a team like the Jaguars, but the Titans have much better and more talented teams coming up on the schedule.
They have a lot of work to do, and they need to do it quickly.
“I think we can clean up everything, honestly,” safety Kevin Byard said.
“I wasn’t pleased with our performance today. We missed a lot of tackles, including me. We didn’t stop the run, we couldn’t get pressure on the QB.”
ROOM TO GROW
Thanks to the Titans’ offense, though, none of the defense’s problems mattered on Sunday. The team is 2-0, and they’re clearly in the drivers’ seat of the AFC South moving forward.
What’s perhaps most exciting for the Titans is the fact that Sunday’s offensive performance came without two key weapons. WR A.J. Brown and rookie RB Darrynton Evans, both of whom figure to be key contributors for the Titans in 2020, missed the game.
Additionally, the players who did participate in Sunday’s game have room to grow and mistakes to clean up.
“There are too many plays that aren’t positive, runs that are at or behind the line of scrimmage, penalties,” head coach Mike Vrabel said.
“I thought we protected well, for the most part, and gave Ryan time to work through his progression. But, again, we have to continue improving.”
If the Titans offense can keep improving, and if the defense can step its game up a few notches, this could become a scary team.
Cover image: Christopher Hanewinckel/USA Today