On Sunday, the Titans beat the Falcons 24-10. The Titans played a great first half and Marcus Mariota played a solid game. The defense played well and did a very good job to hold a star-studded Falcons offense to just 10 points.
Here are some key stats from the game:
First Downs: 22
3rd Down efficiency: 6-13
Passing Yards: 227
Rushing Yards: 138
QB Marcus Mariota: 18/27 227yds 3 TD 0 INT
RB Derrick Henry: 27 CAR 100yds 0 TD
WR A.J. Brown: 3 REC 94yds 2 TD
WR Corey Davis: 5 REC 91yds 1 TD
LB Rashaan Evans: 10 Tackles 5 Solo 0.5 Sacks
LB Harold Landry: 4 Tackles 3 Solo 2 Sacks
First downs: 24
3rd Down efficiency: 5-14
Passing Yards: 364
Rushing Yards: 58
QB Matt Ryan: 25/53 397yds 0 TD 0 INT 1 FUM
RB Devonta Freeman: 12 CAR 28yds 8 REC 72yds
TE Austin Hooper: 9 REC 130yds
WR Julio Jones: 4 REC 42yds
LB De’vondre Campbell: 16 Tackles 7 Solo
1. Marcus Mariota
After last week's loss to the Jaguars, many people wanted Ryan Tannehill to start at Quarterback. I talked about Tannehill and Mariota in depth in this article. Mariota played a great game against the Falcons, despite the Titans not scoring in the second half. Mariota made some great throws such as the Touchdown to Corey Davis. Mariota did a great job of getting out of the pocket and throwing the ball away when he needed to. The team did not take a sack the entire game. The offensive line played a solid game similar to Week 1. Rookie RG Nate Davis had an opportunity to play, and he looked great. It was clear that Davis was on a snap count because he came out after playing less than a quarter. Taylor Lewan comes back next Week and it will be interesting to see how much of a difference he can make in the run game and in the offense. Despite occasional hesitation, Mariota made great decisions against the Falcons. Mariota made great downfield throws and made only one “bad” throw which ended up at Derrick Henry’s feet. The Titans do not necessarily need Mariota to throw for 4+ TD every game, when Mariota plays like he did, it is good enough for the Titans to win. For the Titans to succeed, we need to see consistency from Mariota. If Mariota can play another complete game against the Bills next week, then I will feel very good about the Titans heading forward.
2. Wide Receivers
Heading into Week 4, the Titans Receivers combined for 0 touchdowns. The receivers combined for 3 touchdowns on Sunday, 2 from rookie A.J. Brown, and 1 from Corey Davis. A.J. Brown had one of the best performances from a Titans WR in a very long time, and both of his touchdowns came in the first quarter. Brown had just one reception in the 2nd half but he still played a great game. Brown made two great plays on his touchdowns, the first one was a great run after catch, and the second one was a toe tap touchdown in the back of the endzone. In Week 1, Brown proved that he is the Titans best run after catch receiver and he reaffirmed that against the Falcons. Corey Davis also had a good game. He made up for a dropped ball on 3rd and 8 by scoring a touchdown on the following drive. Davis made a nice catch on the sideline and ran it in for a touchdown. It was a fantastic throw by Mariota and a good play by Davis to turn it into a touchdown. The other receivers did not have a huge effect in the game but when targeted, Humphries caught the ball.
3. Secondary and Presence of Pass Rush
Matt Ryan threw for 364yds but the secondary still played a great game. Malcom Butler played a great game, and Adoree Jackson had a decent game after last week’s bad performance. Logan Ryan also made a couple good plays. I think Malcom Butler is one of the best corners in the league despite the criticism he receives from many media members. Butler did a great job on Julio Jones when he did guard him and he made some great plays such as the sack he had. The pass rush was also very important in the Titan’s win against the Falcons. The Titans recorded 5 sacks, a forced fumble, and many QB pressures. Much of the pass rush came from the linebackers who played a great game. There were a few missed sack opportunities but the pass rush had a good game overall. The pass rush helped the secondary by giving Ryan very little time with the ball.
1. Player Usage
This is a pretty minor negative but player usage is important. It seemed that Marcus Mariota’s favorite target, Delanie Walker, was not on the field enough. Walker has been the most consistent receiver on the team for awhile and he deserves more snaps. Walker is aging but he is obviously still playing at a high level. Another, unrelated negative, is the fact that the Titans let yet another player breakout. Austin Hooper had 130 receiving yards and it seemed that he was on the end of every third down pass.
Coaching was a big problem last Week against the Jaguars. Although it was not as big of a problem this week, the play calling was not very good at times. An example is on the first drive, when the Titans ran a poor screen play on 3rd and 12. The play calling was OK but there were too many questionable calls. I'm not sure I like the call to go for it on 4th and 1 when the Titans could have kicked a field goal to make it a 3 possession game.
The Titans played a well rounded game similar to Week 1 in Cleveland. If the Titans can keep this up, they will likely compete with every team this season. Next week’s opponents are the Buffalo Bills who are 3-1. I think the record is not reflective of the quality of the team, I do not think the Bills are that good. While I do think Josh Allen is a good Quarterback who is improving quickly, the Bills offense is not very good. As of now, there is a possibility that Josh Allen will not play next Week due to a concussion. If that is the case, Matt Barkley will likely start at QB.
If the Titans can beat the Bills and get to 3-2, they will be in a good situation. The game will likely depend on the performance of the offense. If the offense can play a complete game, the Titans can take care of the Bills.
Mariota and the offense had a good day but they have to continue and show consistency.