Ugly wins are always better than pretty losses. Sunday’s performance by the Titans’ defense made the 33-30 victory over the mediocre Jacksonville Jaguars a little more nerve-wracking than many Titans fans would have appreciated.
Sunday marked the first time the Jags had scored 30 or more points against the Titans since December 24, 2016. Jags’ quarterback Gardner Minshew walked up and down the field at will against the banged up Titans defense. Minshew finished with 339 yards through the air, including three touchdowns and two interceptions. Sunday’s 339 yards is the second highest single-game performance for the second-year QB since he arrived in the league as a sixth round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.
Part of the Titans’ defensive struggles can be attributed to a lengthy Injury Report, leaving the team shorthanded veteran playmakers. The Titans placed starting cornerback, Adoree Jackson, on the IR before the season started. This means that Jackson is not eligible to return until at least after Week 3 as the Titans travel to Minnesota to square off against the Vikings on Sunday.
Rookie Kristian Fulton, the Titans’ second-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, made a few plays against Jacksonville, including his first career interception on a tipped Minshew pass in Jackson’s absence.
A big (rare) positive for the #Titans defense from yesterday…
In addition to getting his first career pick, Kristian Fulton was only targeted twice in 25 coverage snaps, giving up 9 yards. He's been pretty good so far considering how much camp he missed with an injury.
— Mike Herndon (@MikeMiracles) September 21, 2020
Vic Beasley has yet to hit the gridiron in two-tone blue thus far into the 2020 campaign. Beasley was signed to a one-year “prove-it” deal, a contract worth up to $12.5 million with incentives. Unfortunately for the Titans, the only thing that Beasley has really proven is that he is not a player that can be relied upon. Beasley mysteriously missed 10 days of training camp, costing him $500,000 in fines.
However, Beasley appears to be getting close to his Titans’ debut as he was labeled as a full participant in Thursday’s and Friday’s practices before ultimately being ruled out against the Jaguars.
Derrick Roberson is another pass rusher that has missed the first two games this season for Tennessee. Roberson is considered to be a pass rush specialist and would do wonders in taking a little bit off the load that Jadeveon Clowney and Harold Landry III are currently carrying.
Clowney played 62 of 75 snaps and again appeared to tire. #Titans
— Paul Kuharsky (@PaulKuharskyNFL) September 21, 2020
Clowney did not have a typical offseason, spending most of it reviewing offers from plenty of NFL teams looking to upgrade their defense. Because he was not brought in until late in training camp, it should not come as a surprise that Clowney is a little behind in terms of his conditioning.
Mike Vrabel’s first season calling the shots on defense for the Titans has gotten off to a rocky start. But, he is not the only one slow out of the gate. There were 15 teams that allowed 30 or more points on Sunday, so it is not only a Titans’ issue, but more likely a league-wide dilemma.
Vrabel/Bowen obviously aren’t without blame, but I personally think it is a personnel problem more than anything.
Gotta get guys healthy.
— Nick Lombardi (@NF_Lombardi) September 20, 2020
Vrabel will need to improve upon his unit’s play, but with the Titans’ defense getting healthier, there is no need to panic. The Titans defense bent about as far as possible without breaking. Harold Landry II came up with a game saving interception on Jacksonville’s final drive to push the Titans to 2-0.
— Tennessee Titans (@Titans) September 20, 2020
Featured image courtesy of Wade Payne/AP Photo