NASHVILLE, Tenn. — For the Buffalo Bills defense, a group the Tennessee Titans are getting set to face in Week 5, confusion is a weapon.
The unit frequently uses movement and multiple fronts in order to gain an advantage over opponents. Because of the versatility of their personnel, it can be hard for opposing quarterbacks to figure out before the snap if the Bills are going to blitz.
The Titans’ offensive players understand all of this. They are preparing for the challenges that facing Buffalo’s defense will present by emphasizing the importance of quality communication.
“Communication’s going to be key,” said TE Delanie Walker. “That’s all we talk about week to week is being talkative, communicating. We don’t care if they know what the play is, they don’t understand the offense. At the end of the day, if we communicate, we can get the job done.”
QB to QB
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Something the Titans will have working in their favor against the Bills when it comes to communication is the relationship that starting quarterback Marcus Mariota and backup Ryan Tannehill have developed on the sideline.
Tannehill wears an earpiece during games that allows him to listen to offensive coordinator Arthur Smith’s calls. If he can’t hear from the earpiece due to crowd noise, Tannehill puts on his helmet, which has a louder communication system.
“I’m seeing the coverage, I’m seeing the front, the protection, but if you don’t know the call, you’re watching the game just like anyone else,” Tannehill said. “I want to know the call so I can see exactly what we’re looking for and have certain things that we want to look out for throughout the game.”
Whenever Mariota comes off the field following a drive, he and Tannehill meet.
“I get to see the game from a different perspective being on the side,” Tannehill said. “I’m not getting hit, and there’s not a lot of pressure on the sideline. So I have the ability to see throughout the whole play on what’s going on. Just looks that they’re giving us. We’re able to come off to the sideline and talk about it, whether it be coverage, pressure or front.”
Mariota appreciates Tannehill’s efforts to stay engaged, and he knows that their relationship will be of supreme importance against a defense like Buffalo’s.
“Really, it’s going to kind of be one of those things throughout the game where it’s constant communication with myself, with Ryan, with guys that are on the sidelines seeing what they see just so that when we’re out there all together, we’re on the same page,” Mariota said.
Rust for Lewan?
Left tackle Taylor Lewan will make his first start of 2019 against the Bills after serving a four-game suspension during the season’s first quarter.
The Pro Bowler is hoping that the time away won’t result in any communication problems, especially against a defense like Buffalo’s that can make things uniquely difficult for an offensive line.
“It’s not necessarily that Marcus and I need to have communication, I just need to listen to Marcus when he tells me what to do,” Lewan said. “It’s me and Rodger [Saffold], getting a call from Ben [Jones] and hearing all that, remembering the calls. Those are the kinds of things I need to make sure I have locked down. It does feel comfortable coming back, but once I get to practice I’ll know a little bit better.”
The Titans’ game against the Bills will kick off this Sunday, Sept. 26, at noon CT from Nissan Stadium.
Cover image: Mike Dinovo & Dale Zanine/USA Today