Tennessee Titans’ offensive coordinator Arthur Smith is now nine weeks into his tenure as a first-time play caller.
The Titans dropped to 4-5 on Sunday after a deflating loss to the Carolina Panthers in which the offense looked lackluster, yet again.
The main thing that stood out to me in that game was Smith’s inability to run an NFL offense.
Last Sunday, Carolina gave up 232 yards on the ground while being gutted by the San Francisco 49ers. That number normally makes an offensive coordinator’s eyes light up –especially if you have Derrick Henry in your backfield.
The game plan should have been simple. Run the ball down their throats until they prove they can stop you.
Instead, Smith decided to only give the ball to his 6-foot-3, 238-pound back three times in the first half — a half where the Titans failed to score for the fourth time this season. One carry, Henry’s best of the day, was negated by a holding call. Dion Lewis also ran the ball twice and fumbled on his second carry.
The Titans have been shutout in the 1st Half four times this season, the most in the NFL.
Tennessee hasn’t done this since 1994 when they were the Oilers.#Titans
— Allan Bell (@AllanBell247) November 3, 2019
That is simply unacceptable. Henry and Lewis don’t need the same amount of carries in one half. Henry is a freight train and should’ve had the ball in his hands at least 10 times in that half.
Things looked much better on the first drive of the second half, which saw Henry get the ball on all but one play. That drive went 67 yards in just under five minutes and finally got the Titans on the board.
Carolina scored on the next drive and that seemed to make Smith completely forget the success the Titans had just found on the ground.
Tennessee’s next drive went as follows: Ryan Tannehill sacked for a loss of seven yards, Henry up the middle for a gain of two, incomplete pass, punt.
There was no reason to not keep feeding Henry. Tennessee was down only two touchdowns with five minutes left in the third quarter. Henry ran for nearly 60 yards in under five minutes on the previous drive.
Carolina was ranked No. 26 against the run going into week nine. You don’t exactly have to be Sean McVay to know you should run more against a bad rush defense. Smith only ran the ball with Henry 13 times, resulting in 63 yards. Seven of those carries and 47 of those yards came in the opening drive of the second half.
I was one of the few that still had faith in Smith as an offensive coordinator before Sunday. Honestly, if he called a good game, I would still be on board. But not after the loss to Carolina. It was the straw that broke the camel’s back and it showed me he is not an NFL coordinator.
I would be very surprised if Mike Vrabel and Jon Robinson decided to fire Smith in the middle of the season.
It probably wouldn’t make much of a difference for the rest of the season, anyway.
But if the Titans really want to go from “good to great,” they need to move on from Arthur Smith as soon as the season ends.
Featured image via Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports