The Tennessee Titans squeaked out an impressive 33-30 victory in arguably the most hostile environment in the NFL.
The team has had a couple of chances to publicly comment since their victory so let’s take a closer look at some of the topics that stood out over the last two days of press conferences.
Importance of finding their identity
The Titans got their identity back after a one-week crisis where they looked lost in every facet of the game.
On offense, the Titans were utilizing their weapons out wide early and often which helped set up the eventual Derrick Henry haymakers later in the game. Meanwhile the defense made a plethora of plays throughout the game that helped make the comeback possible.
Mike Vrabel: “that’s certainly who we are, it won’t always be pretty, but if we can eliminate turnovers and eliminate easy plays on defense, we’ll have a chance.”
Quarterback Ryan Tannehill also emphasized the importance of the team getting back to their identity.
Tannehill: “ I was proud of our guys, we battled. We were pushing piles, we were running the football, Derrick was running extremely hard. You could feel it on the field, the synergy of our offense coming together, and playing to our identity. There’s a lot to get better, but as far as coming together as a unit, making plays, trusting each other, and playing to our identity, I felt like we took a step in the right direction today.”
Mike Vrabel is proud of how the team handled hostile environment.
Vrabel went out of his way to emphasize how proud he was of his team for overcoming the battle both in the stands and on the field.
Vrabel: “All the credit in the world to the players, they’re the ones who kept battling and kept fighting. It wasn’t easy, this (Seattle) is a tough place to play, give them (Seahawks) a lot of credit, we understand the pedigree of this football team, this organization, and how difficult it is to come in here and win. So I’m proud of our football team
David Long Jr. stated that it was important they “not panic” in the midst of a bonkers environment that Kevin Byard called “the loudest stadium I’ve ever played in” and compared it to a playoff-like atmosphere.
Sticking with the run game
After the Titans had a relatively pedestrian 2.5 quarters on the ground, head coach Mike Vrabel tried to remain “patient” with their rushing attack without being loyal to a fault.
Vrabel on sticking with the run game: “I think there’s a fine-line based on the way the games going. We felt like we did have time and we were doing some really positive things and it was keeping us efficient and out of those third and longer situations and helping us gain first downs. I think it’s all just a feel in how the game is going and what the situation is. It was great that we could answer and when we hit some big ones like we did, it certainly allows you to stay in that mode.”
Taylor Lewan and Rodger Saffold injury updates
Titans’ left tackle Taylor Lewan aggravated his knee during warm-ups and was a last-minute addition to the team’s inactive list. Guard Rodger Saffold on the other hand left the game but tried to tough it out before returning back to the sideline where he ultimately spent the rest of the game.
Vrabel gave a quick update on both at Monday’s press conference:
“No (update), obviously Rodger didn’t finish and Taylor wasn’t available. So I think we’ll know more as we work our way through the week and we’ll see if we get both of those guys back.”
Mike Vrabel praises offensive line play
Vrabel was asked to comment on the offensive line’s response to last week as well as their ability to plug and play as a unit with minimal consequences:
“I can’t say enough about that group. That’s who we are man. At the end of the game, they’re picking themselves off the ground. But they battled, they competed, you know they got us a couple of times on some pressures on third down that we have to be better on. But certainly, that unit gave us a chance to win. Ty (Sambrailo) stepping in there and that’s something that he’s done in the past. And then Brew (Aaron Brewer) stepping in there and being in there for Rodger (Saffold). That’s kind of what we expect of them and they did that.
Vrabel also praised both the offensive line’s ability to plug and play while taking notice of Derrick Henry’ consistent ability to excel with a makeshift offensive line:
“I don’t know maybe the guys in there are playing hard and trying to give extra efforts, I’m not sure if Derrick knows the difference (in offensive linemen) but maybe it’s just a good coincidence.”
Kristian Fulton making the most of his opportunities
All off-season, Mike Vrabel has praised the progress of the second year cornerback from LSU. He did so once again when he was asked to elaborate on what he’s seen out of Fulton thus far.
Vrabel: “I think he’s (Fulton) played well. I think we had high expectations for Kristian with the way he performed in the off-season and how he performed in training camp. And you know confidence is a large part of life and football and most importantly playing corner. You get beat, you come back. He made a mistake, came back, and made a play for us on third down to help get us off the field.
Vrabel also praised Fulton’s improvement on not doing dumb stuff that gets you beat.
Kristian Fulton feeling confident
Fulton was asked to elaborate on what he thinks has helped with recent consistency on the field.
Fulton: “Both, being confident and just being comfortable. You know I feel like the game slowed down for me a lot this year. The vets have been helping me, the coaches have been helping me in the film room to try and make plays. So I’ve been trying to build on my games throughout the week in practice.”
Julio Jones discusses the touchdown that never was
Tennessee’s new star receiver finished with six catches for 126 receiving yards on seven targets. The lone target that was ruled an incompletion was extremely controversial, to say the least.
Jones went up and grabbed the ball in the back of the end zone and seemingly got two feet down with clear control of the ball for what should have been a touchdown.
Unfortunately, the refs saw it otherwise since the heel cancels out the toes or something illogical like that. The problem with that so-called logic, Jones pretty clearly got the heel down as well.
Jones himself respectfully said after the game that he felt the call should have stood as a touchdown:
“I felt like I was in. Once I caught the ball, I looked down, secured the catch, one foot down, second foot down. I felt like I scored. But that’s not my place to do their job, that’s their job. They’re professionals at what they do and they try to make every call to the best judgment that they can do. Like I said, it’s not my job to go out there and officiate the game.”
Jones may have taken the high road, but that doesn’t mean it was any less egregious.
Jones Showing support for A.J. Brown after a rough outing
The veteran receiver was very vocal in showing support for fellow wide receiver A.J. Brown after he had an off day.
Jones said: “I’ve been doing this for 11 years. They come and go, these types of games. So one game doesn’t define him (Brown). One play don’t define him. He’s a great talent, he’s a great player. And he’s going to be a great player in this league for a long time. He has all the tools, everything. His mentality is there, but if he needs me, I’m there for him. But for me, looking at him as the older guy on the team, one game is not going to define him.”
Jones seems to have the right approach with his “one play/game at a time” mentality along with his leading by example persona. Both of those two characteristics add to the plethora of other reasons why Jones and Tennessee are the perfect marriage for each other.