After their worst performance of the season in Week 13, the Titans responded with one of their best games of 2020 this week. Tennessee smashed the Jaguars in Jacksonville and improved to 9-4 on the season, guaranteeing they’ll enter Week 15 in first place in the AFC South.
There aren’t any parades to be thrown for beating a 1-12 football team, but it was nice to see the Titans come out and dominate an inferior opponent so soundly. So let’s jump into winners and losers from Titans 31, Jaguars 10.
Winner: Derrick Henry
The annual Derrick Henry romp over Jacksonville happened today. El Tractorcito rushed for 215 yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries in another ridiculous performance against his hometown team.
If the game had been closer, Henry probably would have gone for 300. Jacksonville had zero hope of stopping him.
The big day brings the possibility of a 2,000-yard season back into focus. Henry sits at 1,532 yards, just eight yards short of his career high and needing to average 156 yards per game over the final three to break the 2K barrier. He also leads Dalvin Cook by 180 yards in his defense of the rushing title. With the run defenses left on the schedule, I wouldn’t put anything out of reach for Henry right now.
Loser: David Quessenberry
It’s hard to have a loser in a game like this, but Quessenberry really struggled in this game. During the first half he was responsible for several big hits on Ryan Tannehill and just looked a little overmatched against a pretty pedestrian Jaguars pass rush.
It was the worst Quessenberry has looked to this point and it’s a little concerning with the playoffs just around the corner and a slate of high end edge rushers waiting on Tennessee once they get there.
Winner: Malcolm Butler
Butler shadowed D.J. Chark for the majority of this game and absolutely shut him down. Chark finished with just two catches for 16 yards on nine targets while Butler got his hands on two passes and intercepted one.
Butler has been a bright spot in a dark season for the Titans defense and that continued today. He’s been at his best when he’s been tasked with locking up the opponent’s top target. This was certainly a game to build on for the Tennessee defense as a whole, but it was led by a sparkling performance from Butler.
Loser: Team Health
The Titans have overcome a lot of injury issues this year, but they’ll have a few more to deal with after this game. Ben Jones, Rodger Saffold, Tuzar Skipper, and Tye Smith all left the game with injuries. Jones came back in, but was later pulled with the game in hand. Dennis Kelly also left late, though I didn’t see a clear injury with him so it might have just been a function of the blowout. A.J. Brown also came up gimpy after a tackle for what seems like the tenth game this season, though he did return to action later.
We will see what the severity of these injuries looks like later this week, but the Titans can’t afford for too many of these to become multi-week issues at this time of year, especially along the offensive line.
Winner: A.J. Brown
Yes, he had another bad drop — this one on a third down early in the game on a ball that couldn’t have been thrown better by Tannehill — but he also turned in one of the best catches of the season as part of a 7-catch, 112-yard day.
Brown continues to be awesome and his big day moves him back ahead of Corey Davis for the team lead in receiving by two yards (837 to 835) with three games left. The Titans very well may end up with two 1,000-yard receivers.
Loser: Corey Davis
Davis followed his career day against Cleveland with a bit of a dud in Jacksonville. He caught three balls for 34 yards and had a bad fumble that led to the Jaguars only points of the first half.
Davis rebounded from the fumble a bit, but this wasn’t a great game for him overall.
Winner: Ryan Tannehill
Tannehill barely got the arm warm after halftime, but he did plenty of damage early on in this game, finishing with a line of 19 for 24 for 212 yards (8.8 yards per attempt) and two touchdowns.
Tannehill was surgical in this game and his two touchdown passes moved him past Marcus Mariota’s 2016 season for the most in the Titans era of the franchise. Tannehill now sits at 28 passing touchdowns and has an outside shot at reaching George Blanda’s franchise record of 36.
He’s also now within striking range of ending my least favorite Titans era mark: Matt Hasselbeck’s single season passing yards record set in 2011 at a measly 3,571 yards. Obviously, Warren Moon holds the franchise record at 4,690 yards and that is in no danger any time soon, but for nobody to surpass 3,571 yards in 21 seasons in Nashville is just shameful. I’m ready for that mark to fall.
Winner: Rashaan Evans
The Titans run defense was stifling early in this game and Evans was a big part of that effort. He also made a couple plays in coverage, contributing two pass break ups on the day. Considering that Evans had exactly three pass break ups in his three year career heading into this game, that’s a pretty significant accomplishment.
Winner: Mike Vrabel
Vrabel had his crew ready to play from the jump in this game and got the best defensive performance of the season from that side of the ball. He also showed off his expert game management skills again, using a timeout to stop the clock during the last Jaguars possession before the half before seeing Ryan Tannehill cruise into field goal range for a 53-yard strike from Stephen Gostkowski. The Titans are consistently prepared in those type of situations and that’s a reflection of good coaching.