New Season, Same Story?
The Tennessee Titans opened up their season on Sunday with the Arizona Cardinals at home. It was not an ideal opening game for a team that has very high hopes this season, as they ran into very familiar issues to which they had in 2020. Derrick Henry only rushed for 58 yards on 17 carries, for a 3.4 average yards per carry. On top of that the defense was dominated by Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray and his many weapons. Let’s take a look at how the game played out.
This game got away from the Titans rather quickly. They went three and out and before they could blink, Kyler Murray had connected with DeAndre Hopkins for a 38-yard play. The Titans defense ended up making a stand and forcing a short field goal. Just as they thought they got some momentum, Chandler Jones strip-sacked quarterback Ryan Tannehill leading to a Corey Peters recovery for the Cardinals at the 1-yard line. DeAndre Hopkins made an outstanding catch in the back of the end zone on third and goal and broke the game open 10-0.
The Cardinals scored another Murray-Hopkins touchdown to make it 17-0. The Titans finally scored and made it feel like they weren’t totally out of the game with just under seven minutes left in the first half and scored on a Tannehill scramble. They then missed the PAT and you just couldn’t help but feel like nothing was going the Titans way. The Cardinals got the ball and went right down again to make it 24-6. The Titans had a chance to put more points on the board before the half, and Michael Badgley missed a 46-yard field goal. The Cardinals led24-6 at the half.
The Titans opened the half with a spark by picking off Kyler Murray. They came down quickly and scored on a strike by Tannehill to A.J. Brown. 24-13 just like that. Unfortunately, the defense did not bring it. They let the Cardinals come right back down again and make it 31-13. The rest of the half was mostly uneventful. The Cardinals scored one more time late in the third quarter. The Titans didn’t put up any more points. They couldn’t protect Tannehill or create lanes for Derrick Henry to run through.
- The secondary is still a major problem for this Titans defense. A position in which they completely overhauled and brought in an almost entirely new group, did not look any different than the group last year that was one of the worst secondaries in the league.
- The offensive line has to be better if the Titans want to be contenders. They couldn’t stop Chandler Jones and the Cardinals pass-rush. There was nowhere for Derrick Henry to run all game. They have to be better. It’s a young group, so it may just take a few weeks for them to get in a groove.
- The Titans don’t have a lot of time to fix their issues. The schedule doesn’t get any easier next week. They head to Seattle to face the Seahawks in week 2. They could find themselves in a quick 0-2 hole this season. Not a hole this team wants to be in.
- Where are Julio Jones and AJ Brown? The Titans were a big winner this offseason when they traded for former Atlanta Falcons Star Julio Jones. He and AJ Brown were touted as one of the best wide receiver duos in the NFL. However, they combined for seven catches for only 78 yards and a touchdown. It wasn’t all on them, but they need to be better next weekend.
The Titans had a lot of things looking good for them in training camp and preseason that did not look good in the opener. The defensive line was supposed to be the strong suit of this defense, and they didn’t generate very much pressure. The secondary was completely rebuilt and they had the same coverage issues as they had a year ago. I have much higher hopes for the offense going forward. For instance, the offensive line has some young pieces that are still figuring it out. It should only be better from here. The weapons they have will all be amplified with better protection and run blocking. The defense has to pick things up next week in Seattle if they want to get back on track.
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