In the Trenches: Reviewing the Broncos, Previewing the Jaguars

In the Trenches with former line coach Ryan Watson is a recurring piece looking at the Titans upcoming opponents each week, studying and reviewing the matchups along the offensive and defensive lines.

Week 1 is in the books for the Tennessee Titans. The good news is that the Titans came out of Denver 1-0. The bad news (?) is that it was not as polished as one would hope for a team with more consistency and carryover than most. No preseason games might explain some of the rust, but I was hopeful that the O-line and defensive front would have had more of an advantage.

Overall Offensive Line Review

Lets start with the O-line. Overall, the effort was there for the hogs up front. This feeling of unsuccessfulness is due mostly to the effort and play of the defensive front of the Denver Broncos.

Leading the charge was Jurrell Casey and Mike Purcell. A combined 11 tackles from the duo does not do justice to how well they played. They were both monsters and gave different linemen for the Titans fits throughout the game (Casey gave Nate Davis the business specifically, but more on Frogman in a bit). Derrick Henry gained 116 tough yards on 31 carries and rarely found clear holes at the line of scrimmage. He did bounce a few runs before he needed to. However, Henry did have success bouncing some runs when the interior was clogged, producing a few nice gains. 

The pass protection, however, was good for the Titans, only allowing one sack. There were 7 QB hits, a number that I would prefer to be a tad lower, but all in all it was not a terrible night for the unit. Let’s take a look at my overall thoughts on the guys on the front line:

Individual Review

  • Dennis Kelly is probably my big winner of the night for the offensive line. He played very well hitting his assignments and did not miss many blocks. Kelly looked fluid with active feet and hands throughout each play. My expectations were low coming in (and there was no threat of Von Miller across from him), but I was impressed nonetheless with Kelly’s performance. One issue I noticed in pass protection was a tendency to sometimes stop his feet and fall down or lose his balance. Something I’ll be watching for as the season progresses.
  • Nate Davis got beat up a bit by the aforementioned interior line of the Broncos. Davis however was very good in pass protection, often looking for help floating and recognizing twists. When climbing to the second level of the Broncos defense, Davis had a tendency to stop his feet at contact or dip his head and become off balance. It was not every play, but it was magnified by the moments where it did look like Henry was going to break out before the defender (or area) Davis was blocking had some late leakage. 
  • Ben Jones, Rodger Saffold and Taylor Lewan performed as expected and all played very well. I graded them about even for the night. The effort was there each and every play, and I am looking forward to Week 2 for what should be a better match up for this group.

Whiteboard Session

Let’s look at a few examples of plays from this game and talk through my observations while reviewing the tape. Included are my notes taken while reviewing these plays.

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Author: Ryan WatsonThe resident Old Dude who's found a way to still be involved with football after years as a college and high school football coach. An O-line truther who cut his teeth coaching wide receivers. A Titans fan since he started paying attention to football again after coaching, roughly 2008. The other half of the greatest podcast you've never heard of (the numbers were very telling) Taking It To The House Sports. Currently involved in multiple podcasts on Broadway Sports Network talking shop on Coaches Corner and trying to guide fantasy football decisions on The Flex.


  1. Even though I have nothing intelligent to affirm or ask about, I intend to comment on this feature every single week of the season simply to make sure it gets comment traffic and stays in the mix. Though I don’t know how to study football in the trenches, this article opens up a whole new dimension of awareness for me while I prepare to take in this week’s game. And I LOVE that! I believe that the magic of line play is where success/failure generally lies in this game. I bet people who really know how to study line play are generally the best predictors of team success week to week. Thanks again for offering this.

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