On Sunday, the Titans shocked the NFL by dismantling the Browns by a score of 43-13. I saw not one member of the National Media pick the Titans to win. In my most recent article, I predicted a 24-17 Titans win. This prediction was far off, I did not expect such a blowout and I do not think anyone did. After the Browns first drive it seemed that the game would be a long one for the Titans defense but they picked it up and played one of the most complete games in a long time.
In my Week 1 Preview article, my key to the game for the Titans was getting the running game going, specifically Derrick Henry. I stated my concern with the offensive line but they played well enough to protect Mariota and to successfully run the ball. Although Henry did not have the amount of rushes or rushing yards I expected, he totaled 2 TDs with 19 rushing attempts and 84 rushing yards. Additionally, Henry scored a 75yd receiving touchdown which was a screen pass to Henry. The play was set up very well and was clearly executed well by Henry. Despite much of the Titan’s success coming from the defense, Henry played an important role in the offense and scored two touchdowns which were very important at the time.
There were a few other Titans players that stood out to me against the Browns: Delanie Walker, A.J. Brown, Marcus Mariota, Cameron Wake, Brett Kern, and the entire secondary.
As we all know, Delanie Walker broke his ankle in week 1 last year, ending his season. Many people did not believe Walker would make a full recovery due to his age but I felt confident. Walker had 5 catches for 55yds and 2 TDs. Walker looked great in his long awaited return and he looks like he picked up where he left off.
A.J. Brown was not talked about too much heading into this game. Many people expected a lot of production from new WR, Adam Humphries and former 5th overall pick, Corey Davis. I predicted Davis would have a big season this year and I still believe that, despite him not recording a catch today. Humphries had just one reception for 5 yards. A.J. Brown had 3 catches for 100yds. 2 of his catches were huge plays that he extended with his ball carrying skills. In the first half Brown had a 47yd catch . This was a great play and Brown did well to get a couple extra yards. The second play came primarily from Brown's instinct and run after catch ability. Brown extended the play and show why he was arguably the best receiver in the 2019 NFL Draft.
Marcus Mariota played his role against the Browns. Mariota is not someone like Patrick Mahomes where you expect him to throw 5 TD passes per game. Mariota can extended plays with his legs, complete deep passes, and win games. Mariota did not have a ridiculous stat line (14/24 248yds 10.3yd avg 3 TD 0 INT) but it was significantly better than Baker Mayfield (25/38 285yds 7.5avg 1 TD 3 INT). Mariota extended the play when he needed to, and outside of a few misthrows (which appeared to be a result of Marcus feeling rushed), Mariota threw the ball well.
Cameron Wake had a huge game for the Titans. Wake recorded 3 sacks including a safety. Wake was a low profile offseason acquisition that not many people talked about. Many people said Wake was too old (similar to Delanie Walker) to have a big effect for the Titans. Wake proved to be by far the Titans most dominant pass rusher against the Browns and he was one of many reasons the Titans beat the Browns by so much.
Punter Brett Kern is likely the best punter in the NFL. Kern had a few HUGE punts which pinned the Browns deep. Kern kicked a punt about 70 yards that was unfortunately called back due to a penalty. Punters are often not considered very important but having a good punter can be very helpful.
The Titans defense: The Titans defense proved to be one of the best in the league. Last season the Titans had the 3rd ranked scoring defense and they seem to be on a similar course this year. Despite Malcom Butler and Adoree Jackson having a few mistakes early in the game, the secondary had a solid game, and recorded 3 picks in the second half (Byard, Ryan, Butler pick six). The pass rush struggled in the first half (outside of Wake) but improved in the second half. The game was quite close in the first half and if it were not for the defense’s stellar performance, the Browns may have pulled away.
The Kicking game: With the injury to Ryan Succop, I was nervous about the kicking game and how it would effect the Titans. The Titans brought in former Chiefs and former Bucs Kicker, Cairo Santos. Santos played a fantastic game, he was 2-2 on FG (with a 53yd FG) and he was 5/5 on extra points. Kicking proved important as Browns Kicker, Austin Seibert missed an extra point, giving the Browns just 6 points on their first drive.
The offense as a whole: There were many questions heading to the season about the Titans offense. Many of those questions were regarding the offensive line. I was skeptical of the Offensive line this week because LT Taylor Lewan was out due to suspension and the Titans were starting a RG (Jamil Douglas) who played last season on the practice squad. Mariota was pressured many times, and sacked 5 times, but the line played well enough and it was not a huge deal in the game. Additionally, the receivers who were targeted (Walker, Brown, Smith) caught the ball consistently.
There were not many negatives in this game outside of the first half but one of them was dropped passes. Three standout, Adoree Jackson’s dropped interception on the first drive, Dion Lewis’s drop on the screen pass in the first quarter, and Corey Davis’ “drop” in the second quarter (about a 20yd throw in the middle of the field). Dropped balls were not a huge factor in this game but its one of the few negatives from the game.
The game as a whole was fantastic for the Titans. Penalties completely shifted the game into the Titans favor. Most everything clicked for the Titans on Sunday but we cannot expect this every week. This team is similar to the 2018 team who beat the Super Bowl winning Eagles and then went to Buffalo the next week and lost. Obviously beating the Browns is not as big of a deal, but the Titans do play the Colts at home next week. While everyone should be excited about this game and excited about the fact that the Titans took care of the ever loquacious Cleveland Browns. Nobody in the National Media gave the Titans a chance in this game and many predicted a huge blowout. People even predicted the Titans would be shutout. I am pleasantly surprised by the final score but I knew the Browns would likely be undisciplined. The Browns totaled 18 penalties and 1 ejection (should’ve been 2). Penalties proved very important in the game.
Key team stats from the game:
3rd down efficiency :
TEN: 2/10 CLE: 1/10
4th down efficiency:
TEN: 0/0 CLE: 0/2
TEN: 216 yds CLE: 244yds
TEN: 123yds CLE: 102yds
TEN: 6/54yds CLE: 18/182yds
TEN: 0 CLE: 3 (3 int)
TEN: 4/32yds CLE: 5/41yds
Key individual player stats:
Mariota- 14-24 248yds 3TD
Henry- 19 car 85yds 1 TD, 1 rec 75yds 1TD
Brown- 3 rec 100yds
Walker- 5 rec 55yd 2TD
Mayfield- 25-38 1 TD 3 INT
Chubb- 16 car 74yds
Beckham- 7 rec 71yds
While the game was a great result for the Titans, the next couple games will be very difficult. The Titans face two divisional Rivals back to back, the Colts, and the Jaguars and then head to Atlanta to play the Falcons. The Jaguars game should be very interesting as it was announced today that QB Nick Foles is out about 6 weeks with a broken collar bone. The team will likely look to rookie QB Gardner Minshew who came in as relief for Foles today against the Chiefs. The injury of Foles is very unfortunate to the Jags but Minshew was 22/25 today and threw for 275 yards, 2 TD, and 1 INT. The Titans should be celebrating but need to be careful the next few weeks.
The Titans played a well-rounded, fantastic game. Derrick Henry proved again that he is one of the best players in the AFC he showed why the Titans offense should revolve around him. I am extremely happy with the result this week and I know the Titans are fully capable of winning the next 3 games.
I feel confident with the Titans moving forward but anything can happen.