Titans: Off to a hot start, silence Dawg Pound

Well, I didn’t see that coming. I had a feeling the team would do alright against the much hyped Browns in their season opener, but I wasn’t quite expecting to see a 43 to 13 blowout. Now it is just week one — and I don’t want to get ahead of myself — but I think we are seeing the true potential of the Titans for the 2019 season. It wasn’t a perfect game, but it was a solid performance from almost every member of the team, and it sure gave Tennessee fans something to talk about.

Let’s start with what I think was the biggest question mark going into the season. Mr. Marcus Mariota.

Mariota vs Mayfield summary via u/Doug_

All off-season there were talks about his poor performance last year and in years past and whether or not he would be able to live up to his draft hype and continue to be the leader of this team.

While he has not been terrible — he has led the team to a trio of 9-7 seasons and two playoff appearances — people are beginning to question whether or not he was worth the draft capital spent on him back in 2015.

I think it’s safe to say that he has assuaged at least some of the doubters with his week one stat line.

Mariota completed 14 of 24 passes for 248 yards and 3 touchdowns with no interceptions. While a very respectable line, let’s not forget that one of those completions was a fluke 75 yard touchdown reception to Derrick Henry. Still, even without that, he showed poise in the pocket, and much needed patience that paid off when the team needed him. While there is still some work to be done and a little polish needed, I think Mariota has shown us that he is still the man to head up the offense.

Titans running back Derrick Henry has seemingly not lost a step, despite sustaining an injury during the preseason. He appears poised to continue to pound away at opposing offenses and get the team downfield on the ground. I don’t expect him to put up two touchdowns every week, but he showed that he will be a solid contributor, and hasn’t lost any momentum from his end-of-season performance last year.

Now for a couple pass catchers.

Most notable was the return of Delanie Walker, who racked up 55 yards and two touchdowns on 5 receptions. After not playing all last season, Walker showed up big in the season opener and — should he stay healthy — will be a big factor in the passing game for the rest of the season.

After the game, Walker made it clear that he was not impressed with the Browns, despite their recent emergence as the national media darling.

Next, rookie A. J. Brown showed out big in his first professional game, gaining 100 yards on just three receptions. While we won’t be expecting 33 yards per reception every game, Brown has showed that he has the skill set to compete with the big dogs.

Surprisingly, Adam Humphries only had one reception for 5 yards in an underwhelming first showing. He should see more targets in games, but he will probably struggle to see the same target share he saw in Tampa — especially with Delanie Walker’s return to the field. That being said, if the Titans fail to gain such a strong lead in future games, expect to see him stretch the field and be more heavily relied on.

Even with an impressive showing by new OC Arthur Smith’s group, the most impressive part of the game was the Titan’s defense.

With Mike Vrabel as head coach, we knew that the defense would get a lot of attention and that they would come out swinging, but what a magnificent performance. On the day, the defense racked up five sacks — one of which was for a safety — and had 3 interceptions in the fourth quarter alone. Each of those interceptions led to Tennessee touchdowns. The defense is definitely firing on all cylinders and we should expect to see more smash mouth play as the season continues. 

Not to overreact to week one, but this was about as good as any team could hope to do in the first game of the season. Hopefully they can keep the momentum going and continue to dominate as they move forward. Next week they face the Colts who are coming off a loss to the LA Chargers. The defense will look to take advantage of the gap that Andrew Luck left and Derrick Henry will look to feast against one of the weaker run defenses in the league.

— Andrew Lyons

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