Titans Fall to second division rival in 5 days

Coming off an unexpected loss to the Colts last week, the Titans were unable to turn things around on a short week where they traveled to Jacksonville to face off against the Jags. The Titans were blanked through three quarters and finally scored a meager touchdown in the fourth quarter, falling 20-7.

This is the second loss to a divisional opponent in five days, and the Titans don’t seem to be in a good spot. Miscues and inefficiency again led to the team being unable to come out with a W in this matchup.

The Titans got off to a bad start when Adoree Jackson was unable to reel in a punt two minutes into the game after the defense made an early stop. The Jags recovering the ball on the 10 yard line which led to a touchdown on the very next play.  Tennessee quickly went down 14-0 as Gardner Minshew ended a drive with a 22 yard touchdown pass to DJ Chark. After getting into a hole early on, the Titans needed to be efficient on offense to have a shot at coming back — but that wasn’t going to happen.

In case you hadn’t heard, there was a league-wide referee conference call to discuss the amount of penalties administered in this game. In the first half alone, there were 15 flags thrown. The Titans were called for holding on offense again and again, which meant they were fighting an uphill battle consistently.

The inefficiencies on offense continue to be a point of concern with Mariota failing to convert on any of his 23 completions, and the teams lone TD coming from a 1 yard run from Derrick Henry. The O-line didn’t help things, allowing Mariota to be sacked 9 times which now brings the season total to 17. They were unable to maintain the pocket and allow their QB to get any momentum going. Right now, the offensive line for the Titans closely resembles a pack of Swiss chees more than a group of football players.

However, the line is not solely responsible. With Mariota continues to look far from comfortable in the pocket and missed some easy throws that would have continued the drive. The fact that Mariota still has zero interceptions on the season is more luck than anything with a few errant passes slipping out of the reach of defenders. Mariota was finally able to connect with Humphries in this contest with Humphries earning 93 yards on six receptions. Delanie Walker continues to look solid with seven catches for 64 yards, but outside of those two and Sharpe’s two catch 70 yard night, there was very little to get excited about on the offensive side of the ball.

For the most part, the defense did not look as bad as the score would suggest. They missed on some key plays that ended up leading to scores, but they were able to hold Leonard Fournette to just 66 yards on 15 rushes. If you don’t count his singular 69 yard run, Fournette would have ammased a total of -3 yards on 14 rushes, so minus one blown coverage, not a bad night against the run.

Regardless, Minshew was able to find holes in the secondary, which led to two passing touchdowns on the night. There seems to be some miscommunication on the defensive side of the ball, or just some players missing their mark and leaving gaps where there shouldn’t be. All-in-all, the defense does not reflect the mindset of head coach Mike Vrabel, who wants to be a head-strong, defense first team. With extra time to prep for the next game, I’m sure Vrabel will delve deep into the tape and give his defense a wake up call, which hopefully will inspire them to kick things into gear for next week.

The Titans will look to turn things around as they are set to face the Falcons next Sunday the 29th. The Falcons have a strong offense that will give the Titans a run for their money, so with 10 days to prepare for the upcoming game, they need to get their D in gear if they hope to stop Matt Ryan and company. I am hopeful that the team will be able to turn things around, but there are some worrying signs that will start to turn into big red flags should they go down again next week.

— Andrew Lyons

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