The Titans fell to the Colts 19-17 on Sunday. The game was back and fourth, but the Titans offense never completely clicked. The Colts had a consistent rushing attack that ultimately propelled them to victory. The Titans defense had one fumble recovery and one interception but in the end, it was not enough. Outside of the run defense and a few broken pass plays, the Titans defense played pretty well.
In my Week 2 preview, I went into depth about the Titans vs Colts game and I gave my keys to the game. My keys were:
1. Stop the Run
2. Slow down Brissett
3. Run the Ball
4. Use all targets
The Titans did not excecute on any of the keys, they played an incomplete game. While the defense was getting stops, the offense was off, and never meshed like last week in Cleveland.
Needless to say, the Titans did not do a good enough job of stopping the run. The Colts totaled 167 yards. Jordan Wilkins had 5 car for 81yds, Marlon Mack had 20 car for 51yds, Jacoby Brissett had 7 car for 25yds, and Nyheim Hines had 2 car for 9yds. While Mack did not have that many yards, it seemed that every time he got the ball, he gained more yards than expected. Wilkins had 81 yards, 55 of which came off a big run to the right where Kenny Vaccaro tackled him inside the 5. I mentioned the importance of the run defense, and it was not good enough against the Colts.
Jacoby Brissett threw for 146yds and 3 TD. He also threw 1 INT to Logan Ryan and fumbled once which was recovered by Harold Landry. Brissett was not the deciding factor in the game, but he still made an impact. Brissett seemed very slippery throughout the game, because the Titans struggled to tackle him on many occasions. The Titans pass defense was good enough, but Adoree Jackson had a very bad pass interference called on him early in the game, and Malcom Butler struggled to guard T.Y. Hilton.
Running the ball was my biggest key in weeks 1 and 2. Derrick Henry had just 15 car and rushed for 81yds and 1 touchdown. The team totaled 123 rushing yards, Mariota had 32, Lewis had 9, and Humphries had 1. Derrick Henry is indefinitely the key to the Titans offense and they still do not utilize him enough. While OC Arthur Smith does give the ball to Derrick Henry more than last years OC Matt LaFluer, Henry should get 20+ carries per game. In the second half, Henry had spurts where he would rush for 10+ yards consecutively, and rather than continuing to feed him the ball, the Titans threw the ball. As I have mentioned many times, Henry is the key to the offense and I still believe that.
Mariota struggled to use all of his targets. While Mariota did complete passes to 9 different players (one being a touchdown to Guard David Quessenberry), only 3 had more than 2 receptions.
The Colts have beaten the Titans 11 of the last 13 times. The only two wins came against Jacoby Brissett in 2017. Jacoby Brissett is a different Quarterback then he was in 2017 and the team around him has improved immensely. The Colts have one of the best defenses in the league, and their pass rush is very good. The offensive line played OK but Marcus Mariota held the ball for too long in the pocket. Mariota was sacked 4 times in Sunday’s loss, 3 of which were a result of holding the ball for too long. Many people think Mariota was the downfall of the Titans on Sunday but that is not the case. While Mariota made a couple inaccurate throws, he generally threw the ball on target and he made plays with his legs when needed. The receivers were not very helpful, dropping multiple passes. I believe Delanie Walker needs to get the ball more because he never drops the ball. On 4th and 2 at the end of the game, the Titans ran a slant, and Mariota threw the ball to Rookie WR, A.J. Brown rather than Corey Davis or Delanie Walker. While the play was likely designed to get the ball to Brown, I trust Davis and Walker a lot more.
Another questionable play was Mariota's decision to spike the ball on 3rd and 2 to stop the clock rather than running a play. This brought up 4th and 2 which the Titans did not convert. Had the Titans run a play, they may have been able to get in field goal range before time expires.
Another downfall of the Titans was 3rd down. The Titans converted just 1 first down on 10 attempts, while the Colts converted 7 on 14 attempts. It seemed that every time Brissett dropped back on 3rd and long, he completed a pass or ran for the 1st down. The Titans secondary played well but seemed to give up too many 3rd and long plays. I still do not completely blame Marcus for that because that is not an easy decision in the moment.
As I said, Derrick Henry should have gotten the ball more. He averaged 5.4 yards per carry and in the second half, it seemed like he was constantly breaking off long 10+ yard runs. When Mariota is not playing at his best, he should be able to lean on his run game more, but Henry had just 15 carries. So far, I have loved OC Arthur Smith’s playcalling and it is much better than Matt LaFluer who thought the Titans were going to be Rams 2.0 and throw the ball down field every play, but the offense should be based around Derrick Henry, he is 247lbs of muscle, and he is a hard runner with underrated downhill speed.
The Titans have a short week, facing AFC South rivals Jacksonville Jaguars on Thursday Night Football. The Jags fell to the Texans this week after they attempted a 2pt conversion to win the game in the closing seconds and it was no good. This game should be interesting as rookie QB Gardner Minshew has shown a lot of promise so far this season. The Titans have not lost to the Jaguars since 2016 and the Jags will look to change that Thursday.
It still seems that the Colts Curse is still alive, the Titans find a new way to lose to the Colts every time.
The Titans did not play well enough against the Colts, if they want to go from good to great, everything has to be better.