As well as things went two weeks ago for the Titans against the Colts, it was almost the exact opposite last Sunday versus the Browns. The defense was very bad in the first half, no one will argue that, but I’ve seen a lot of social media anger directed solely at the defense. That is not fair in my opinion. After all, this is a team sport.
Offensively, things did not start much better for the Titans. The Titans experienced uncharacteristic plays in the run game. There were key blocks missed that allowed defenders to be constantly in Derrick Henry’s face before he could get going. A frustrating step back after such a dominant performance last week.
The other uncharacteristic events were turnovers. The Titans not only turned the ball over on downs but followed that up with a one-play drive that resulted in a fumble from Henry. A.J. Brown also put the ball on the ground multiple times during the game (one being recovered by Pruitt for a touchdown). The defense had their own issues, but the offense did not start out on the best terms either.
The offense did settle in during the second half, and Ryan Tannehill was sharp for the most part missing on just a throw or two. The Browns definitely took their foot off the gas, but credit is due to the Titans for showing the resiliency to not just roll over and die (did you see the Chargers lose 45-0?).
There are no participation medals in the NFL, so this does add another loss to the Titans record, dropping them to even with the Colts for first place (leaving out tiebreakers for now).
Lets take a closer look at some of the plays that contributed to the Titans defeat. But first, a look at some of my other notes outside of the review section (these may or may not be in tweet form as well @RyanOnBroadway).
- 3:15 1st Q — Derrick Henry Fumble: First drive after the 4th-and-1 stop (which is also a turnover as far as I am concerned). Already down 10-0, the Titans needed a sustained drive to answer the Browns. The Titans go back to their bred and butter and are looking to run off tackle/stretch to attack the defense. Nate Davis false steps (meaning he picks his foot up and puts it in almost the same spot it left his stance) and gains no ground. He is blocking out and needs to either reach the defender in the gap to his right or run him to the sidelines. Davis loses leverage and Henry is forced to deal with a defender in his face 3 yards behind the line. The Fumble occurs and the Browns have a very short field to work with. I know the defense deserves a ton of the blame, but this starting sequence by the Titans’ offense did nothing to help.
- 13:22 2nd Q — Corey Davis Touchdown: Davis initially runs a 12-yard out. The first read on the play is to Brown hoping to find a window coming across on the dig at about 12 yards as well. Brown rolls his ankle on the break and falls down, the play looks to be well covered anyway. Swaim is running a safety route flaring out of the backfield. Tannehill, seeing that his first read has fallen down, comes back and looks to Davis, who is covered on the out. Tannehill starts to scramble signaling Davis to break on his route and get open. Typically, scramble rules call for down-to-up and up-then-go-down. Davis is in between and turns to open ground in the end zone. Tannehill throws another bullet as Davis is scraping over coverage that Davis comes back to and makes a tough catch, fighting off the corner and the safety coming over to deliver a blow as he catches the touchdown. It is plays like this that make me wonder what people are watching when they say Davis is an average receiver or Tannehill is terrible.
- 5:12 2nd Q — Tannehill Sacked: On 3rd and 7, Tannehill has a five-step drop. As soon as he hits his drop, he starts to scan, but within a second he is feeling pressure from the edge rush over David Quessenberry. Quessenberry stopped his feet when he went to punch the edge and allowed a short corner to impact Tannehill, who now has to step up into traffic. The Browns also run a twist stunt with a walked up backer over Jones and the DT over Davis. The stunt is looking like it will be picked up, but the Browns also bring a stunt from the right linebacker, grabbing the attention of Davis and McNichols. The stunt splits both men and Tannehill is not allowed to escape the pocket, then finished off by the unblocked defender that initiated the twist stunt.
- Defense has it’s share of the blame but the offense cannot have the fumbles and catchable passes that turn into interceptions that they did and expect to win. Yes the defense gave up the points, but the Titans were set up to win this game even after the bad start if the offense does not lose four turnovers in the game (two fumbles, the interception and a turnover on downs).
- 13:35 4th Q — Tannehill Sacked Again: Quessenberry again gets beat by Myles Garrett with a similar move that troubled him earlier, Quessenberry punches with his inside hand on an outside rusher and stops his feet. Garrett then rips around Quessenberry for the easy sack on Tannehill, forcing the Titans to punt.
White Board Reviews:
Corey Davis In-Route (18-yard gain)
- Titans are doing a good job chipping to help tackles and mixing in play action
- On this play, it’s Geoff Swaim and MyCole Pruitt simulating a double-team on the edge defender before Pruitt releases into a route
- Titans are counting on linebackers sucking up on the run fake
- Davis is running a medium dig route right behind the backers looking for a coverage hole
- Davis presents a target and Tannehill hits him in stride
- Brown is running a deep out to clear out that side of the field for Davis as he comes across
Henry Toss (7-yard gain)
- Another good example of the Titans using motion and shifts to take advantage of numbers