Week 16: Three Up, Three Down

A big win against the 49ers shrinks the Titans’ magic number for the division crown down to 1.

Three Down

Todd Downing’s first half offense: As someone who has been a defender of Todd Downing’s playcalling, the first half on Thursday was a bit of a slap in the face. Extremely predictable and equally ineffective, the Titans could not conjure up any success on early downs, leading to a couple of drives that ended in 3rd & 15 and 3rd & 20. There was absolutely no flow to the offense, and while he wasn’t helped on a couple plays by execution (looking at you, Hilliard on the failed block on the A.J. Brown 3rd and 3 attempt), the blame falls on Todd here as he couldn’t seem to get out of his own way.

A.J. had quite a few targets (7) in the first half, but not many of them were effective targets. This turned around in a big way in the second half and Todd deserves credit for fixing the issues that plagued him in the first. That being said, you can’t afford to essentially punt a half against good teams and expect to win. The Titans have moved the ball well against most teams this year. Let’s hope this was just an aberration.

D’Onta Foreman: I’m not sure what happened to Foreman in this game, but the leading carries getter for the Titans ended with just 1.9 yards per attempt. Run blocking was worse than it usually is, which contributed to his tough outing but the Titans didn’t gash the 49ers like they had the last several teams they’d played.

Could it have been a product of the ankle injury he suffered against Pittsburgh? Sure. Maybe it was just an off night. Either way, he’ll have 10 days to get read for the next challenge.

Kristian Fulton: A constant bright spot on the defense, this was not a great game for Fulton. When matched up with Deebo Samuel, it appeared that Fulton spent more time falling down than covering the 49er wide receiver. It’s an issue that Jackrabbit Jenkins has had several games this year, so I’m not sure if it was a cleat issue or what, but this will be a game to forget. Flush it and move on would be my motto for Fulton. He’s got 10 days to prepare for Jaylen Waddle.

Three Up

Dillon Radunz: Since drafting Radunz, it’s been a lot of talk about how he’s preparing, how he’s studying, how he’s working to get better. The Titans have shown a reluctance to play Radunz, leading to many, myself included, to believe he stunk.

Thankfully, it appears I was wrong! Radunz, matched up with Nick Bosa for the first half, played a very solid game. A few penalties and plays that he’d like to have back, but considering the opponent, that he was on a short week, and was told within the past 24 hours that he’d start, I’ll take it all day. If he can become a solution at either of the two tackle spots in the long term, that would be a huge boost to future plans. In the immediate future, he needs to supplant David Quessenberry at right tackle, because that guy is doing absolutely nothing right at the moment.

Ryan Tannehill: Lots of haters out there think Tannehill has been a problem this year and needs to be replaced this offseason. Outside of the Texans game, he’s not held them back from winning. Thursday night, without two of his better offensive linemen, he played very good football. There were a couple plays in the first half I’m sure he’d like to do-over, like the the sack he took or the screen he completed to Hilliard for negative yards. Those weren’t game changing plays and he showed in the second half that he can make enough plays to win you a ballgame.

This should silence some of the haters, but I’m not delusional, and understand that they will be out there next week, posting that the Titans should be drafting a replacement this year, or that there are no excuses for him (even when he’s playing well).

He completed 75.9% of his passes, had 7.2 yards per attempt, and added another 22 yards on the ground. Routinely finding A.J. Brown was the name of the game in the second half and he helped the team convert 9 of their 16 3rd down attempts. He leads the league in game winning drives since he became the starter in Tennessee, although if you perused Twitter, you’d think he was a bum.

A.J. Brown: It’s easy to see what the Titans were missing out on when he’s back. 11 catches for 145 yards and a touchdown from Arthur Juan in a dominating performance. The numbers speak for themselves, but you can really see on the field how much more comfortable Tannehill is throwing to A.J. than any other receiver on the roster. He played around 75% of the snaps, so the staff clearly feels comfortable with his injury.

If he can play near the level he did on Thursday for the rest of the season, the sky is the limit for the Titans. He’s a one-man wrecking crew in the truest sense. I would be shocked if we don’t remember him as the best WR in Titans’ history.

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