A handful of alarming stats concerning the Tennessee Titans offense came out of the team’s 30-20 loss to the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.
The unit’s second drive of the game was effectively ended after offensive linemen Nate Davis and Taylor Lewan combined for 40 yards worth of penalties, their first third-down conversion of the game didn’t come until there was just 1:30 left in the third quarter and their three turnovers (two interceptions, one fumble lost) were essentially the nail in the coffin.
But those facts, though they suffice as a thorough indictment of the Titans consistently anemic offense, don’t get to the real reason why the unit was nearly worthless against Carolina.
Not in Carolina, but if I had the first question today for Vrabel it would be: Why did it take until the third quarter to give the ball to Derrick Henry more than twice?
— Teresa Walker (@TeresaMWalker) November 3, 2019
That reason? The Titans offense, from the coaching staff to the players, continually defies logic in all of the wrong ways.
JUST TWO CARRIES?
A great example of that is the Titans’ handling of RB Derrick Henry against Carolina.
Heading into the game, the Panthers’ run defense had given up the 11th most yards in the NFL. Yet, the Titans Derrick Henry, one of their offense’s few redeeming elements, just two carries in the first half.
When they started turning to him at the start of the third quarter, as the Titans were facing a 17-0 deficit, he delivered. The Titans scored a touchdown on their first offensive series of the second half thanks to Henry’s seven carries for 47 yards and the score.
Henry also gave the Titans their second touchdown of the game later in the third quarter, taking a Ryan Tannehill screen pass down the right sideline for 23 yards.
Common sense and logic would seem to dictate that running the ball against a poor run defense would be a good idea, but that’s not what the Titans did.
A COMMON THREAD
They took a similar approach in their win last week over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who entered that game with the NFL’s worst statistical passing defense.
What did the Titans offense do in the first half of that game? They took a run-first approach, giving Henry seven carries and only completing five passes.
The common thread between the Titans’ offensive strategies over the last two weeks is that they both defied common sense and logic. When an opponent has a clear weakness, you have to exploit the weakness.
A Titans coach would probably respond to that idea by saying something along the lines of, “it isn’t that simple.” Here’s the thing: it most certainly is.
IT’S A PROBLEM
The Titans offense is like an infectious disease that never goes away. When one symptom gets better, another pops up.
— Luke Worsham (@luke_worsham) November 3, 2019
The Titans’ problem with lacking common sense goes far deeper than just a couple of poor gameplans. Another way the problem has manifested is in the Titans’ use of RB Dion Lewis, who has been remarkably ineffective this season.
Lewis has been prone to drops and negative plays, yet the Titans repeatedly insist on giving him a role within the offense.
On Sunday, Lewis’ over-involvement resulted in a turnover and multiple negative plays in the passing game.
Overthinking is just as dangerous in the NFL as underthinking, and that’s exactly what the Titans are doing.
Cover image: Jeremy Brevard/USA Today