Players to watch in the Titans’ Week 2 game in Seattle

It’s officially Friday therefore we should all have put that nightmare of a performance behind us and have begun to look towards Seahawks week.

The Titans are walking into what is sure to be a hostile environment on Sunday afternoon with this being Seattle’s first regular season game with any fans in almost two years. As chaotic as the scene will be, this may be the perfect opportunity for Tennessee to gain back some of the credibility they undoubtedly lost after last weeks letdown 

If the Titans are going to make a statement to the rest of the league, they will need a big showing from these six players:

Left tackle Taylor Lewan

One of the more unexpected turn of events from Week 1 was the abysmal return to play for former Pro Bowl left tackle, Taylor Lewan. In reality,  it’s probably something we all should have seen coming to an extent. It was his first game back from a torn ACL injury and was forced to line up against a future Hall of Famer chasing another payday in his first game back. 

Regardless of the excuses, there’s no arguing that it simply wasn’t good enough. The former perennial Pro Bowler finished with a Pro Football Focus (PFF) grade of 39.7 after he accounted for two sacks and five total pressures allowed.

Lewan will have another tough test ahead as he will have to try and slow down a Seattle pass rush that sacked Carson Wentz three times last Sunday while recording 10-quarterback hits in the process. If the Titans are going to move to 1-1, they must get better protection out of their blind side against a savage defensive front.

Wide receiver Julio Jones

Last week was a dud all around, but arguably the one that hurt the most was Julio Jones’ performance due to the hype that surrounded his debut.

Jones had an early personal foul penalty that practically ended a drive. Then the offense failed to get him, or anyone really, into a rhythm mostly due to the constant pressure being placed on quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Jones then failed to make the most of the opportunities he did have as he dropped a few balls that are usually routine by Jones’ standards. One of the balls that bounced off his fingertips even led to an interception.

Despite these early cobwebs, the offense must do a better job at getting the ball to Jones early and often rather than trying to feed him out of desperation when the team is already in panic mode.

The entire offense must do a better job at getting into a rhythm from the start, playing with a sense of urgency cut from the opening kickoff is imperative towards leaving Seattle with a victory.

Offensive coordinator, Todd Downing, can not repeat the same mistake of failing to get the ball to one of the best receivers to ever lace them up as soon as possible. Jones’ presence and playmaking ability is capable of forcing the defense to respect the pass much more than in previous years. But for this to be the case, the Titans must remind defenses of what Jones is capable of which in turn will help open things up much more for A.J. Brown and Derrick Henry.

Fortunately for the Titans, the future Hall of Fame receiver has a history of doing well against the Seahawks. Over Jones’ last three games against Seattle (2017, 2019, 2020), Jones has averaged eight catches for 126 yards per contest.

Look for the Titans’ prize acquisition from the offseason to try and remind everyone of who he is with a relatively familiar opponent.

Guard Nate Davis

2020 seemed to have been the year that the former Charlotte product put it all together. Davis seemingly took a massive step forward in his development as he helped play an intricate role in paving the way for Henry’s historic 2000 yard season. Davis’ individual development even got recognition within some of the National media as he received an All-Pro vote at the end of the year.

Unfortunately for Davis, any of the momentum that he built for himself failed to carry over to start the new season. In the Titans’ season opener, the Charlotte product received an overall grade of 32.3 from PFF. To make matters worse, his pass-blocking grade was a whopping 1.6 after he allowed five pressures, one quarterback hit, one sack, along with a pressure rate of 11.4 percent.

Davis along with the entire offensive line must play better if this talented Titans offense is ever going to reach the heights they are capable of. Be on the lookout for how Davis and the group as a whole bounce back from that disaster against Arizona.

Cornerback Jackrabbit Jenkins

Last week, Jackrabbit Jenkins made his Titans debut and like much of the team, his performance was less than stellar. Rabbit consistently seemed outmatched as he tried to shadow Arizona’s DeAndre Hopkins throughout most of the game.

In total, Jenkins allowed six catches on seven targets overall against the Cardinals, including five of six to Hopkins, per PFF. Hopkins turned those receptions into 66 yards and one touchdown, averaging 13.2 yards per catch against Jackrabbit. Their free-agent acquisition finished with a grade of 47.9.

Jenkins isn’t the first or last cornerback to have a rough day against the future hall of fame receiver. However, considering that Jenkins is currently slated to be the team’s top cornerback, he must do a better job at holding his own going forward. He has another tough test ahead as he will have to try and do his part to slow down the tandem of D.K Metcalf and Tyler Lockett.

Cornerback Kristian Fulton

On a day when the Titans didn’t have many silver linings, their second-round pick from a year ago was hands down one of the bright spots.

Fulton earned a coverage grade of 75.2, and his 66.9 overall grade ranked fifth among all Titans defenders. When guarding wide receiver A.J. Green, the LSU product allowed just one reception for four yards on five targets.

If Fulton continues to play like this, it won’t be long before he takes over as Tennessee’s No. 1 cornerback. Regardless if he’s the one or two, he along with Jenkins will have their hands full once again as they face one of the best tandems in the league in Metcalf and Lockett.

EDGE Bud Dupree

Last Sunday wasn’t exactly the most electrifying debut for one of the Titans’ prize free-agent pickups. The former Steeler is coming off a Torn ACL injury and looked very much like it at times. Similarly to Lewan, Dupree seems like he is still trying to get comfortable in fully trusting his knee, lacking the type of explosiveness that he is known for. This had to be expected early in his return considering the fact that he suffered his season ending knee injury just last November.

With that said, Dupree already being out there is regarded as a major win. Nonetheless, the sooner he begins to fully get his legs back under him will be better for both himself and a team that desperately needs a tone setter along the edge.

Dupree was brought onto wreak havoc in Tennessee’s front seven and he has another opportunity to start doing so against Russell Wilson and the rest of that explosive Seahawks offense.

Honorable mention: QB Ryan Tannehill, RB Derrick Henry, WR A.J. Brown, RT David Quessenberry, DT Jeffery Simmons, ILB Jayon Brown, Safety Bradley McDougald, Kicker Randy Bullock

Author: Shaun CalderonShaun Calderon resides in El Paso, TX after graduating from the University of Texas at El Paso in December 2019 with a Bachelors of Science degree in Kinesiology and a minor in education. Shaun is currently a full-time teacher and is also pursuing a career in the sports journalism world. He has been writing since August of 2019, where he started with the Fansided network and contributed there for one year. In August of 2020, Shaun was offered the chance to move over to USA Today Sports’ NFL Wire network to contribute for ‘Titans Wire’ where he was consistently featured on national platforms such as Bleacher Report, Yahoo Sports, MSN, USA Today, and more. On top of teaching and writing, Shaun does live radio reporting for local high school sports through the ESPN-El Paso network. He hopes you all enjoy his content as much as he enjoys creating it.

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