The Titans kicked off their three week sprint to their bye week today, concluding a 23-21 win against the New Orleans Saints.
It was a sloppy game, but a win is a win.
Winners and losers are listed below.
Winner: Marcus Johnson
Throughout the training camp period, we heard glowing reviews about Marcus Johnson and how well he was practicing.
However, former Philadelphia Eagle and Indianapolis Colts receiver never got a chance to prove how well he was practicing on the game field. He dealt with a number of injuries in the pre-season and even during the start of the regular season, which then led to a short injured reserve stint that knocked him out of three games to start the year.
Fast forward to today, and it’s easy to see why the Titans’ coaches raved about Johnson’s play in camp.
He finished with five catches for 100 yards, most of which were acquired by some nifty route running in the back half of the Saints’ secondary. With A.J. Brown being doubled throughout the majority of the game, Johnson’s emergence was necessary.
He’ll be relied upon a lot more until Julio Jones returns, so performances like the one he had today will be much appreciated by the Titans’ struggling offense.
Winner: D’Onta Foreman
Foreman has been a pleasant surprise.
He isn’t Derrick Henry, but he’s doing a decent job at steadily gaining some tough yards on the ground
Like Adrian Peterson, Foreman isn’t going to be relied upon heavily. But the Titans will take whatever plays he does make while being relied on.
Foreman finished with a similar stat line to Peterson’s, 11 carries for 30 yards while averaging only 2.7 yards per carry. But he did have 48 yard catch and run on a screen pass in today’s game as well.
It’s simple for Foreman, continue to do your job and just do what you can. No one’s expecting him to be a Derrick Henry replacement, just a back that can handle what’s thrown at him.
Surprise, Surprise: Dylan Cole
You didn’t expect practice squad mainstay Dylan Cole to make this list did you?
Well when you make plays like he did at the beginning of the second half, you’re bound to find a place on the weekly winners and losers special.
Cole forced a fumble on the opening kickoff of the second half, giving the Titans’ offense excellent field position en route to an eventual touchdown. You need to force turnovers on both defense and special teams if you want to make a name for yourself across the league, both as a player and as a team.
Cole did just that and you can guarantee he’ll be looked at as an example of what Mike Vrabel wants to see moving forward when it comes to complementary football.
Loser: Pre-snap penalties
Pre-snap penalties can and will drive a head coach crazy.
Today, the Titans had a number of them, including two delay on game penalties that could’ve been avoided and two false start penalties by Anthony Firkser.
Limiting stupid mistakes and staying ahead of the sticks on early downs have to be an heavily emphasized key now that Derrick Henry is out for the foreseeable future. If this offense can’t do that, then they’re going to be in for a rough, rough ride until the regular season finish line.
Here we go again: Injuries
The injury bug was busy making its mark on the Titans once again today.
Taylor Lewan, Ola Adeniyi, Bud Dupree, Nate Davis, and A.J. Brown all went down with some sort of injury problem today. For Lewan and Adeniyi, they both dealt with some cramping issues. Brown hit his head hard on the turf early in the game but later returned. Dupree suffered an abdominal strain and was ruled out pretty quickly once the injury occurred.
This team has employed a strict next man up mentality all season long, but boy having to deal with injuries every single week has to be taxing on Vrabel and the rest of his staff.
Much better: Adrian Peterson
Last week, it seemed like Peterson wasn’t running with enough vigor, swagger, and physicality.
This week though, he found his groove and got back to the hard running style he’s known for. Peterson only finished with 21 yards while averaging 2.6 yards per carry, but the numbers don’t really tell the whole story.
He was physical, his vision was much better, I think it was all you could’ve asked for from a 36 year old journeyman running back with a lot of accumulated mileage.
Peterson won’t receive a boatload of carries unless something drastic happens, he’ll just be asked to do what he can with whatever action he gets. If he can simply do that and potentially more, I’m sure the Titans will be satsified.
Loser: Chris Jackson
This’ll be a performance to forget.
Jackson has been a good replacement corner for Kristian Fulton over the last two weeks. But today, he was picked on in coverage like a little toddler.
It seemed like every chance they got, the Saints targeted Jackson in coverage. I mean why wouldn’t they? He was slipping in coverage, not turning his head around while the ball was in the air, it was a literal horror show for the former 7th round draft pick.
Good news for Jackson is that he can probably never play as bad of a game like he did today ever again.
Bad news? His film from this game can probably be used as an example to portray the idea of how you’re not supposed to play the corner position in the National Football League.