On Thursday, the Titans lost to the Jaguars, 20-7. The game was not good for the Titans on either side of the ball. While the Offense did look good in the second half, the first half was terrible.
Here are some individual stats from the game:
QB G. Minshew: 20-30 204yds 2TD
RB L. Fournette: 15 rush 66yds
WR D. Chark: 4 REC 76yds 1TD
QB M. Mariota: 23-40 304yds
RB D. Henry: 17 rush 44yds TD
WR A. Humphries: 6 REC 93yds
WR T. Sharpe: 2 REC 70yds
WR. A.J. Brown 5 TGT 1 REC
TE: D. Walker 7 REC 64yds
1. Second half offense
The offense in the second half looked much better then in the first half. Not only was Mariota playing better, but I thought the play calling was also better. In the second half, Mariota got everyone involved and spread the ball around. The run game did not really get going but the pass game looked much better, and Mariota ended the game with 306yds.
2. Run defense
Heading into this game, I was very worried about the Titans run defense. While I do not think Leonard Fournette is that good, the run defense was so bad in the last two weeks that I was worried for the Jaguars game. Fournette had negative yards until late into the 4th quarter when he broke off a 69 yard run down the middle.
1. The offense generally
This is the second week in a row where the Titans lose a game and Mariota did not play up to his potential. Like last week, this game is not on Mariota. Even more so than last week, the offensive line was terrible. Mariota had no time to throw the ball but when he did, he completed passes. The only player on the offensive line that played well was LT Dennis Kelly who is one of my favorite players on the team. RG Jamil Douglas was destroyed by Jaguars Calais Campbell all game. The Jaguars totaled 9 sacks and many times, Mariota did not even have time to get the ball out of his hands. As a result of poor play from the offensive line, Derrick Henry could not get going, although I do think he played well. Henry had a great 10yd run which was called back due to a holding penalty. This is an unpopular opinion but I think the Titans had a much better offensive performance then the Jaguars. Most of the Jags offense came from a special teams mistake and a few chunk plays by Gardner Minshew.
2. Penalties and undisciplined mistakes
The Titans totaled 9 penalties for 101yds. It seemed that every good play in the first half was called back due to penalty. The Titans were called for holding many times, 2 of which were called on RG, Jamil Douglas. Similar to the Browns in week 1, penalties proved very important in the game.
3. Pass Rush
The pass rush totaled 0 sacks on Thursday. There was very little pressure throughout the game and it seemed that Minshew had plenty of time to throw the ball throughout the game. Pass rush is crucial to every aspect of the defense. A good pass rush can make it much easier for the defensive backs because they have to cover their man for a shorter amount of time. The Pass defense was pretty good through the game. People are far too critical of CB Malcom Butler. I am tired of hearing that he played badly, the only reason there were passes caught against him was because Minshew placed them perfectly at the receivers back shoulder.
When Mike Vrabel was hired by the Titans in 2018, he made it clear that he was going to be aggressive. Last season, his aggression was the result of multiple losses such as the call to go for two in the Chargers game, when the Titans had all the momentum but Vrabel wanted to attempt a two point conversion to win the game. Against the Jaguars, Vrabel made a few bad coaching decisions. The first one is not challenging any pass interference calls. There were multiple times where there was a clear pass interference or a pass interference that should not have been called and Vrabel did not challenge the play. I believe Vrabel thinks pass interference will not often be overturned. The second, more significant decision was to go for it on 4th and 6 in the redzone. This Titans were driving and were having their best drive of the game. I do not like that decision because the Titans were down 14 at the time and had no points. That play resulted in a Mariota sack, he had no time to throw the ball. Had the Titans just taken the points they were offered, the game could have been different. The last decision came with about 4:00 left in the 4th quarter. Vrabel decided to punt when the Titans were down just 13, I see this as giving up. Why not go out with a missed 4th down conversion rather than giving up and punting? Maybe someone could have ripped off a big play that got the Titans into field goal range making it a one possession game.
My keys to the game were:
1. Do not let Gardner Minshew breakout
2. Run the Ball
3. Minimize undisciplined mistakes
The only key the Titans executed on was not letting Minshew breakout. Minshew had a good game but nothing incredible, and he was not the reason the Jaguars won the game. Had the Titans established the run game in the first half and minimized undisciplined mistakes, the game would have been completely different. Many of the undisciplined mistakes were a result of some terrible officiating and many weak penalties
This game was too similar to last weeks game against the Colts. The same mistakes were made by the Titans and that cannot happen. After week 1, it seemed that the Titans were a different team this year but the last two weeks make me rethink that.
Next week the Titans play the Falcons in Atlanta. The Falcons have the best pass defense in the NFL and at their best, they have the best pass offense in the NFL too. Next week’s game should be very interesting.
The Titans did not play a complete game similar to last week, they will have to be better if they want to beat the Falcons.