The Tennessee Titans fell victim to the Houston Texans today by a score of 22-13.
It was a bad game all around, so of course there’s plenty of losers. But a couple of winners emerged from the Titans’ disastrous display today, so technically it isn’t all bad.
Let’s jump right into it.
Loser: Ryan Tannehill
The Titans absolutely didn’t need the type of performance that Ryan Tannehill had today.
He threw four interceptions, and he should’ve thrown more, but didn’t due to the Texans letting some of Tannehill’s errant throws slip away from their grasp.
To put in bluntly, Tannehill was awful today. In his defense, his top two receivers both left the game with injuries, and the rain certainly didn’t make things better for the passing game.
But that’s no excuse for his poor play. The interceptions, and should’ve been interceptions, were all bad throws that Tannehill shouldn’t have made. That’s something you don’t want to see out of your short term $118M franchise quarterback. Especially during a race for the top seed in the conference.
He’ll certainly bounce back, but to have that sort of game against arguably the worst team in football? Talk about bad timing.
Winner: Elijah Molden
Molden was a bright spot on a gloomy afternoon for the Titans.
He was in the middle of a couple of key third down stops in the second half, both of which gave the Titans multiple shots to jump back into the game.
The first was a third down hit on Chris Conley to force a Texans punt, and the second was a third down blitz from the slot that forced the Texans to punt from their own end zone.
Ultimately, both of those stops didn’t result in the Titans turning the tide and coming up with another win. But it was rather encouraging to see one of the team’s most prized rookies step up and make big situational plays.
Loser: Pass rush
The Titans came into today’s game possessing one of the hottest pass rushes in all of football.
Today against the Houston Texans, they didn’t sack Tyrod Taylor once. A lot of that has to do with the Texans prioritizing the quick passing game, just so Taylor could get into a rhythm and avoid standing in the pocket.
However, the biggest reason for the lack of sacks was probably because of the Texans winning so often on first and second down, primarily with their run game. It allowed the Texans’ offense to stay ahead of the sticks and retain their quick passing game.
All in all, just a bad performance today by the Titans’ pass rush against one of the worst offensive lines in all of football.
Winner: Dontrell Hilliard
Once the game got out of hand for the Titans, it was neither D’Onta Foreman or Adrian Peterson that received the full brunt of the running back work load.
Rather it was practice squad call up Dontrell Hilliard, who finished with some impressive numbers and came through in key spots for the offense throughout the game.
Hilliard finished with 35 yards on seven carries, along with eight catches for 47 yards for a total of 82 yards from scrimmage. He had a fumble near the goal line that was later recovered in the end zone for a touchdown, but aside from that, he looked good.
I don’t know if he’ll get the same amount of snaps moving forward, but if he does, I think his performance today showed he can handle it at least.
Uh Oh: Another hamstring injury
The Titans have been hammered by injuries all season long. So much so that they’ve used over 80 players in their 11 games so far this season.
But if you had to pinpoint which specific injury has impacted the Titans the most this season, you’d probably shout “hamstring” with no hesitation.
Julio Jones has been dealing with a hamstring problem all season long. He’s finished games early due to it, he’s missed time because of it, and now recently he’s been placed on injured reserve because of it.
Now his replacement, Marcus Johnson, has suffered a hamstring injury that might make him miss some time. If Johnson misses time, the Titans will be in a tough spot regarding receiver depth.
After Johnson, you have Chester Rogers, Nick Westbrook-Ikhine, and rookie Dez Fitzpatrick.
Not to mention, A.J. Brown sustained a couple of different injuries today as well. The Titans better hope Johnson nor Brown misses any time, or one of the three depth names I just mentioned really steps up next week against the New England Patriots.
Either way, the team is in a pretty unfavorable position in terms of health at a pretty key position with Derrick Henry still recovering from foot surgery.
Winner: Second half defense
After a shaky start first half, the Titans’ defense really turned up their play in the second half, and really gave the Titans a chance to win the game.
The pressure got going a little bit, the secondary locked down the back half of the defense, and the unit as a whole got timely stops on third down after struggling with that facet in the first half.
Their effort was wasted as we know, but good on them for tightening up and finding a way when the going got tough.
Winner: Dez Fitzpatrick
Along with Molden, Fitzpatrick had a good game as well.
He was thrusted into action after Marcus Johnson and A.J Brown both got hurt, and he didn’t disappoint.
He finished with three catches, one of which resulted in his first career NFL touchdown, and 35 yards. His final stats weren’t gaudy, but he made some big time plays in big situations during the game.
Depending on the health situations of Johnson and Brown, he could be depended on once again, this time on the road against a stout New England Patriots defense.
It’ll be interesting to see if the rookie can step up.