The Tennessee Titans have made it through the first eight games of the season. Their latest venture? An up and down 34-31 win over the Indianapolis Colts.
Some winners emerged from the contest, but there also quite a bit of losers.
Let’s jump into it.
Winner: A.J. Brown
Coming off the best two games of his 2021 season, A.J. Brown looked to continue his momentum into today’s big time AFC South matchup with the Indianapolis Colts.
And that he did.
Early on though, Brown didn’t receive much attention from Tannehill, with his first target of the game coming at the four minute mark of the second quarter.
After that though, Brown and Tannehill got in a groove, connecting on some huge plays in the second half. When Brown is involved, good things tend to occur offensively for the Titans. It’d be best if the Titans recognized that early and often, for their sake of course.
Meh: Ryan Tannehill
Tannehill didn’t have a good start to the game.
He had two gut wrenching interceptions that only led to one touchdown, the other was fumbled by the Colts and immediately recovered by Anthony Firkser to give the offense another chance at life.
After those interceptions though, Tannehill settled down and played like the quarterback the Titans know he can be. Specifically the second quarter and beyond was where Tannehill started to get going on an individual level.
He was spreading the ball around, making the right throws, getting his best playmakers involved, and staying away from the dangerous decisions that costed him in the early portion of the game. It was good on Tannehill’s part that he found his groove, but he can’t start slow like that, especially with the turnover problem.
Teams are keying on on Derrick Henry now more than ever, so quick starts to get into a rhythm will always be key for Tannehill moving forward.
Winner: Tight ends
Who says national tight end day is over?
Before A.J Brown even received his first target, all three Titans tight ends combined for seven targets and a touchdown.
Certainly a stat we didn’t expect to chart down anytime this season.
I think the team still needs to at least explore the position ahead of the trade deadline next week. Either way though, the Titans will always welcome performances like these.
Another Meh: Derrick Henry
Henry is still on pace to break numerous franchise rushing records and end up in line with some all time greats on the lists of a few specific statistics.
Today though, Henry just didn’t have it.
Whether it was the right leg injury, or the Colts simply winning the battle up front, Henry just couldn’t find room to work with today.
Going back to the right leg situation, we’ll find out this week if it’s a big deal or just a a nagging injury for Henry. Either way though, a lower leg injury for a runner first off, but one that depends on some violent cuts and leg strength to churn out extra yardage isn’t ideal.
You saw why today.
After that apparent injury scare, Henry just didn’t look as explosive while hitting holes, and he didn’t seem able to chug out extra yards by chugging his legs. Instead he was reliant on his body simply falling forward to get whatever extra yards he could get.
I don’t think it’s a big deal personally, but I’m a not a doctor and I’m not examining Henry’s foot/leg right now, so take what you will with that.
Loser: Offensive line
In the midst of Tannehill taking a beating earlier in the season, we said he’d get hurt sooner or later if he continued to take dangerous hits.
Today we saw that reality come to fruition, as he was sacked three times and hit a number of other times.
One of those sacks caused Tannehill to lay on the ground for a few minutes, just so he could compose himself and gather the strength to get up. He ended up returning to the game, but the hits he took still made their mark on him as the fourth quarter ended and even into overtime.
If you take the painful hits Tannehill took, and the inability to win the battle at the line of scrimmage, it’s easy to conclude that the Titans’ offensive line simply didn’t have a good day today. Now the Colts’ defensive front seven stands out as one of the most physical ones in all of football.
But you can’t keep letting your quarterback and star running back take violent hits that decrease their chances at being fresh and being ready to play at their best.
The last two weeks before today were good, but it’s clear this unit needs some more work moving forward.
One of the most important things a defensive back is taught, whether it’s in the pros or even at the high school level, is to turn your head around when the ball is in the air and it’s thrown your way.
Somehow, the Titans’ secondary didn’t get the memo, as they committed a handful of headache inducing pass interference calls.
Because why? They simply didn’t turn their head around to make a legal play on the ball. Including one on Kevin Byard that gave the Colts the ball at the Titans’ one yard line and an eventual touchdown that sent the game into overtime.
During practice this week, I’m sure the Titans’ staff will be putting a lot of emphasis on making the correct decisions when the ball is in the air.
Because failing to make the right decisions can and will cost you like today.
Winner: Randy Bullock
The Titans and Colts exchanged pretty bad opening drives in overtime.
But when Kevin Byard snagged an interception and set the Titans up inside the Colts’ 35 yard line, the message seemed pretty clear.
Make one kick and you’re flying back to Nashville with a win.
Randy Bullock understood his assignment and delivered, booting a 44 yard field goal just inside the upright to send the Titans home happy. Bullock’s brought stability to a previously volatile Titans kicking situation, something that can’t go under the radar for much longer.
His game winning kick was another example of the consistency he’s brought to Tennessee, something I’m sure Mike Vrabel and the rest of his staff appreciate greatly.