I got the fun side of the ball to talk about this week as Ryan Tannehill and the Titans offense carried a struggling Tennessee defense to a critical 33-30 AFC South win over the Jaguars. However, if you want to learn more about what went wrong on the other side of the ball (and a few things that went right), check out our own Bill Ott’s excellent review here.
However, this article is going to be focused on the Titans offense. What went right for the passing attack? What went wrong for the run game? And where have the explosive plays gone?
Let’s start, however, with a big picture look at the Ryan Tannehill Experience in Tennessee. Through 15 games as a starter — including the three playoff games last year — Tannehill has put up some wild stats:
- 271 of 397 passing (68.3%)
- 3,455 yards (8.7 yards per attempt)
- 33 passing touchdowns
- 5 rushing touchdowns
- 6 interceptions
- 116.6 passer rating
Obviously, the passing volume would work against him, but those are MVP type numbers, and the regression that many howled about all offseason hasn’t shown signs of arriving anytime soon through two games. Tannehill’s completion percentage (70.1%), touchdowns (6), and adjusted net yards per attempt (8.67) are all among the top-10 in the NFL and he’s yet to throw his first interception.
Even Tannehill’s biggest weakness from 2019, his ability to avoid sacks, has seemed improved. Through two games, he’s been taken down in the backfield just twice. While that’s certainly a credit to his offensive line, it’s also a credit to him. I’ve long believed that a quarterback’s influence on the number of sacks he takes is wildly underrated, and I’m far from alone on that thought.
What we are seeing from Tannehill through the first two games of this season is a guy that is in total control of the offense. He’s making all the calls at the line of scrimmage from protections to audibles and the Titans no-huddle usage is up from 11.84% of total plays in 2019 to 18.23% in 2020 according to NFLsavant.com, good for the 3rd highest rate in the league through two weeks.
Not only has Tannehill taken full control of the Titans offense, he’s also shown improved chemistry with his receivers in 2020, particularly Corey Davis and Adam Humphries. The continuity of the Tennessee offense has shown through early on.
Oh, and Tannehill has excelled early in the year without the benefit of a ton of rushing success from Derrick Henry and — mostly — without his top wide receiver in A.J. Brown.
Against Jacksonville, the Titans offense was extremely effective, even if the yardage total — 354 total yards from scrimmage — isn’t terribly impressive. Tennessee scored 30 points in their first 6 drives of the game, racing out to a 30-17 lead entering the 4th quarter. From there, they tried to ice the game with Derrick Henry for a couple drives before eventually getting more aggressive once Jacksonville tied things up.
So let’s dive into what went right for the passing attack and what went wrong for the run game based on my review of the tape.