The Titans officially ended week 12 today, courtesy of a 36-13 loss to the New England Patriots.
Per usual, we have winners and losers, so let’s not waste any more time.
Meh: Cody Hollister
With the Titans being down to only four receivers today, there was much talk surrounding who’ll step up and make plays, if they were there to be made in the first place.
Well, one man who stepped up early on was Cody Hollister, a Titans practice squad mainstay for the last couple of seasons.
He isn’t the fastest guy, but he’s a tall, bigger body that you’d normally see from a “WR1”. That big body came in handy in the first half too, when he corralled two big catches en route to an eventual score.
He’ll likely revert back to the practice squad, but good on him for coming up with some important early grabs.
Winner: Dontrell Hilliard
Hilliard is on a roll.
After featuring heavily during last week’s loss to the Houston Texans, he was back against this week toting the rock and running all over the vaunted Patriots defense.
He finished with 131 yards on just 12 carries, finishing runs hard and ripping off a number of explosive runs. It was impressive if I were to be quite honest, especially considering the pressure the run game had due to the Titans having to deal with a headache inducing injury situation at receiver.
Hilliard been a bright spot for the Titans in the midst of their massive injury wave, and he’ll be heavily relied on moving forward unless unforeseen circumstances occur. He simply just has to hold on to the ball and limit turnovers.
The Titans turned the ball over five times last week against a rather soft Texans defense. This week? They turned the ball over four times, with Ryan Tannehill throwing another interception and Hilliard, Khari Blasingame, and D’Onta Foreman each coughing the ball up once.
With how banged up the Titans are, there has to be an additional point of emphasis on limiting turnovers. Because once you turn the ball over, and likely give up scores, this limited offense will find ways to fail as a result.
It’s weird for the Titans to have a turnover problem too, since Mike Vrabel has preached the importance of complementary football ever since he arrived in Tennessee in 2018.
Maybe the bye week will help fix some of these issues, but if they don’t, then this team is going to be in some real trouble.
Winner: D’Onta Foreman
Like Hilliard, Foreman also ran all over the Patriots’ defense today.
He rushed for over 100 yards on 19 carries, while also continuing to show he can be an impact back. He did fumble once though, so that has to change moving forward.
Foreman’s going to continue to have a role moving forward, whether the role comes on early downs or simply in the red zone. Either way, he has to continue delivering, because the Titans need him to do so.
Loser: The passing game
We knew the passing game wasn’t going to make an impact due to the injury situation at receiver. But even so, the final numbers look terrible.
Tannehill finished 93 yards on 11/21 passing with a touchdown and an interception. There was simply no volume, no consistency, and no sort of positivity from the passing game today. Granted that this team is without their top three receivers as I alluded to before, it’s okay to give this passing game a bit of a reprieve from criticism.
But those numbers and the lack of impact won’t win you football games, especially games against a team like the Patriots that have so many things going right for them right now.
There’s no telling how this passing game will evolve after the bye week. Will it improve once Julio Jones returns? Probably, but when is that even going to happen? Too many questions and not a lot of answers right now, something that has to be extremely frustrating for the Titans.
Loser: Pass Rush
The one area where the Titans really needed some success from today was their pass rush.
It was the one thing that would give them a chance to slow down the Patriots’ ball control offense, while also giving their own offense a chance to find a spark and make some plays.
However, instead of that occurring, the Titans simply couldn’t muster together a consistent pass rush. I mean Mac Jones had all day to throw during a large number of dropbacks throughout the game, including the rare instances when the Patriots faced long down and distance situations on second and third down.
It was the second straight week this pass rush struggled as well, as they couldn’t find a way to pressure Tyrod Taylor last week either. It’s clear this team misses Bud Dupree, as his skill as a looper on stunts and twists really helped unlock the rest of the Titans’ pass rush.
Until he returns, the Titans are going to have to find a way to recover the magic they found during their previous hot streak, one in which some began to mention this unit as one of the best pass rushing units in all of the league. If they can’t recover it, we’re going to continue to see games like we saw today.
Opposing offenses driving down the field and having their way with the Titans’ defense.