The Titans bounced back in a big way in Week 2, taking down the Seahawks in overtime on the road.
Trailing 24-9 at the half and 30-16 in the fourth quarter, Tennessee fought an uphill battle all day against a very good Seattle team. They refused to give up, found a way to win in one of the toughest road environments in the league, and returned to Nashville having avoided a dreaded 0-2 start.
There was a ton to take away from this game, both good and bad for the Titans. On this Overreaction Monday, the hot takes are flying around the internet. I’m here to sort through the noise, figuring out what’s a valid point and what is way too over the top.
So without further ado, let’s jump into the reactions:
The talent of the offense managed to win DESPITE Todd Downing.
OVERREACTION- This was perhaps the loudest overreaction from Sunday’s game, and frankly I don’t understand it at all. New offensive coordinator Todd Downing came under heavy fire after his Week 1 disaster of a debut. His opening performance was very poor.
His second crack at it, though, was overall very solid. Downing got away from many of the things he did in Week 1 that earned him criticism. The Titans ran a league-low 5% play-action against Arizona. Downing got the offense back to their play-action success early and often in Seattle. Downing was criticized for his predictable play-calling last week. His second game of play-calling was significantly less boring and predictable. Downing also got his star weapons involved heavily in the game, something he didn’t do much of in Week 1. Henry, Jones, and Brown all saw significant volume.
Was his performance perfect? No. But Todd Downing is still only in his second game calling plays for this team, and he showed real improvement on attempt number two. If the fanbase was going to be unhappy with somebody’s coordination performance on Sunday, I would’ve expected it to be on the other side of the ball…
The Titans’ secondary is a serious issue.
NOT AN OVERREACTION- I joked on Twitter during the game that the Titan’s position groups were taking turns in the dumpster fire category each week this season. First up was the offensive line, and this week the secondary took their turn.
They cleaned up their act in the second half, save for a completely blown assignment allowing WR Tyler Lockett to get behind the defense for an easy score. And second-year CB Kristian Fulton was once again a bright spot for the team. He covered WR D.K. Metcalf the majority of the game, and locked him down. Fulton is looking like a breakout star so far this season, a much-needed development for the defense.
But the first half was a full-blown disaster for the secondary. Tyler Lockett had his way with them, torching rookie CB Elijah Molden on a huge play where he also got behind S Bradley McDougald. Jackrabbit Jenkins looked better in this game than his first outing (less slipping!), but it was nothing spectacular. The talent is there for this group, but they clearly have a lot of wrinkles to iron out. Ultimately, it’s going to come down to effective coordination from DC Shane Bowen to get them all on the same page.
The Titans’ injuries are a real problem and incredibly unlucky.
OVERREACTION- Yes, the Titans are dealing with a good deal of injuries right now. Taylor Lewan was a scratch yesterday after getting hurt in warmups. Key pieces such as ILB Jayon Brown and TE Anthony Firkser were out, and first-round pick CB Caleb Farley didn’t even travel with the team after injuring his shoulder during the week of practice. A handful of other players, such as Rodger Saffold, played despite being banged up.
Is that ideal? no, definitely not. But this is just how the NFL works. This year in particular has so far seen more injuries to start the season than I’ve ever seen before. Just in the early window on Sunday, we saw Baker Mayfield, Tyrod Taylor, Tua Tagovailoa, Andy Dalton, and T.J. Watt all go down with injuries. Those are just the household names; many more players left their games injured as well.
In the current NFL age, we no longer see starters get many snaps in the preseason. Two-a-day practices are ancient relics, and building up callouses by taking and laying hits in training camp is a thing of the past. I’m afraid this is just where the league is at. So yes, the Titans have injury problems already, but so does pretty much every other team.
The Titans’ offensive line situation is very concerning.
NOT AN OVERREACTION- Losing LT Taylor Lewan in warm-ups and LG Rodger Saffold during the game threatened to spell doom for the Titans in Seattle.
G Nate Davis and C Ben Jones were the only starters to play the whole game at their positions. David Quessenberry has been starting at right tackle so far this season, but his listed primary position is Guard. T Ty Sambrailo played the entire game filling in for LT Taylor Lewan on extremely short notice. Aaron Brewer came in for a banged-up LG Rodger Saffold midway through the game, and his primary position is center.
T Kendall Lamm and rookie T Dillon Radunz are the only remaining depth options for this offensive line, as C Daniel Munyer and T Brandon Kemp are both on IR.
The Titans need to get healthy on the offensive line, and they need to do it quickly. Otherwise, QB Ryan Tannehill will continue to get leveled weekly.
The Titans’ offensive line is better off without Taylor Lewan.
OVERREACTION- This is totally jumping the gun. Lewan is off to a disastrous start this season. Putting up one of his worst performances ever in Week 1, and then injuring himself in warm-ups before the game in Week 2 is a nightmare for Lewan and Tennessee both.
But let’s pump the breaks on Lewan being washed. The Titans’ record with Taylor Lewan in the starting lineup over the past two years, including playoff games, is 14-6. Without him, Tennessee is 8-8.
Could Lewan be in decline? perhaps. But that is yet to be seen. He’s not yet incredibly old for a lineman. He’s dealt with injury problems increasingly over the years, but that doesn’t mean he can’t still be effective when healthy. In Week 1, many star players returning from major knee and leg injuries looked slow and rusty. Saquon Barkley and Bud Dupree are a couple of examples. It’s not all that uncommon for it to take some time for players to get back to their old ways after injuries like Lewan sustained last season.
Titans fans have every right to be seriously concerned about Lewan and his health. But until he’s given some real time to show us what he’s still capable of, people are going to have to be patient with him.
Caleb Farley and Dillon Radunz are officially on the clock to contribute.
NOT AN OVERREACTION- The temperature is rising for the Titan’s first and second-round draft picks. CB Caleb Farley and T Dillon Radunz are yet to contribute this season.
although the year is still very young, the pressure for these two players to start playing is growing by the day for a couple of reasons.
Farley was the third CB off the board in the 2021 draft, and many heralded him as the best available if he didn’t have an injury history. Jaycee Horn in Carolina and Patrick Surtain II in Denver, the cornerbacks taken ahead of him, are both contributing already for their teams. With the Titans secondary struggling thus far, the calls for Farley to play have grown.
Radunz is feeling the heat earlier than expected simply because of the injury issues on the offensive line. If that unit can’t stop dropping like flies, he may be forced into the line of fire before he’s really ready.
Capping it all off, the public’s nerves surrounding high draft picks are worn to a nub after last season’s Isaiah Wilson debacle. If these two talented young players struggle to see the field this season, I can’t imagine Titans fans will let that slide.
What were your thoughts on the Titans’ first win? let us know in the comments, or on Twitter @eastonfreeze and @BroadwayTN