The Tennessee Titans are the antithesis of an NFL offense.
While the rest of the league is scoring at historic rates, the Titans have failed to score a touchdown in three of their past four games, settling for an array of field goals against Jacksonville and Buffalo before laying a goose egg against the Baltimore Ravens at home.
What appeared to be a season-defining win against Philadelphia now feels ages ago. Despite a seemingly healthy Marcus Mariota and a new offensive coordinator, Tennessee’s offense is broken. The culmination of this apparent brokenness took shape against the Ravens, where the Titans allowed a jaw-dropping 11 sacks.
Anytime a quarterback is sacked 11 times, it’s highly unlikely the offense is functioning at a high level. Tennessee was promptly shut out, but was the offensive line to blame for the zero on the scoreboard.
Yes and no. Every sack has its own story.
Sack No. 1
Mariota didn’t have a prayer here. Terrell Suggs was unblocked, leaving him with the opportunity to evaluate if Mariota was indeed handing off to Dion Lewis or faking the handoff. Once Suggs noticed it was a play-action play, he darted for Mariota, which forced him to bounce outside into the arms of multiple Baltimore defenders.
Sack No. 2
Mariota could’ve thrown this pass to the left sideline, but opted not to. Instead, this play became a coverage sack.
Sack No. 3
This is a classic example of poor field awareness. Instead of throwing the ball away, Mariota darted out of bounds and lost two yards. Unfortunately, this type of play is common for mobile quarterbacks.
Sack No. 4
Another coverage sack. The play design here is a bit odd. Not a lot of variation in the routes and nothing is open enough for Mariota to take shot downfield. Plus, the pocket is bottled up, meaning there’s no chance to gain any yards on a quarterback run or scramble around to create an impromptu open receiver.
Sack No. 5
Prior to the snap, Baltimore was showing blitz. In these situations, the offense should check into a play designed to beat a blitz. Clearly, this didn’t happen, as Mariota still had the ball as the blitz arrived.
Sack No. 6
Mariota does an excellent job of evading the pressure by getting outside the pocket. However, in a head-scratching decision, decides to go back inside instead of throwing the ball away.
Sack No. 7
A complete disaster on all fronts. The pocket collapses quickly. Mariota can’t bounce outside because a lineman is in the way. Nobody is open. As a result, we have our seventh sack.
Sack No. 8
Now is a good time to mention how amazing Baltimore’s defense actually is. Their pass rush and pass coverage are both excellent. On this play, a Titans receiver is open on the left sideline, but the pressure arrives before Mariota can make the throw.
Sack No. 9
Yet another example of excellent coverage combined with excellent pressure. Mariota has no chance here.
Sack No. 10
Mariota missed an open receiver in the seam, and after his pump fake, was sacked for the 10th time.
Sack No. 11
The nightmare ends. For the ten-billionth time, Baltimore’s coverage and pressure overwhelms Mariota. He tries his best to elude pressure, but one man can only do so much in this situation.
If an offense is broke like Tennessee’s, one area is never the issue. It’s a multitude of areas. The offensive line isn’t blocking to the level its capable of. Mariota is missing open receivers and holding onto the ball too long. The play-calling doesn’t make sense in certain situations.
The season isn’t lost for the Titans — they’re still sit at the top of the AFC South. However, if Tennessee wants to return to the playoffs, they need to fix their offense, and fix it fast.
Photo courtesy of Titans Online