In week 6, the Titans played one of the worst games in recent memory. The Titans lost 16-0 to the Broncos, and Marcus Mariota was pulled from the game in the 3rd quarter. It was clear from the start that Mariota was off. I have never seen him play that badly and I think there is a chance he could be injured. In the beginning of the game, Mariota missed easy throws and seemed very rushed in the pocket. It is clear that Mariota is extremely nervous in the pocket and he does not trust his offensive line. Mariota began moving out of the pocket because he expected pressure on every play. Ryan Tannehill came into the game and provided the offense with a spark. The offense did not look great but Tannehill moved the ball down the field and completed a few passes. This was primarily due to the broncos defensive backs playing extremely conservatively in coverage.
On Tuesday night, the Titans announced they will start QB Ryan Tannehill on Sunday against the Broncos. Tannehill has played 7 years in the league, all in Miami. I think the benching of Mariota is premature because he has only had one seriously bad game. He played well against the Bills and had no help from anyone. I do understand the in-game benching of Mariota though, just because his play against the Broncos was so uncharacteristic. We have made excuses for Mariota since the beginning of his career but many of them are true. Mariota has had so much go against him during his NFL career, but we will not get into that. Too many people expect Tannehill to come in and fix the offense. With the way the offensive line has played in the first 6 weeks, no QB will be able to play at a high level. The offense has too many holes and Quarterback is not the biggest problem.
The starting of Tannehill is a convenient scapegoat to extend Mike Vrabel’s job with the Titans. There are clear coaching errors that lead to poor play but those are overlooked. Ever since the firing of Mike Mularky and the hiring of Mike Vrabel, Marcus Mariota has regressed in almost all ways. Mariota was a probowl, and playoff quarterback who lead the Titans to 3 winning seasons in a row. He is now being benched in favor of Ryan Tannehill who was traded by the DOLPHINS.
The Titans current problems are bigger than any quarterback. Mariota has not been amazing through 6 weeks but he should not be benched. Year 5 for Mariota was supposed to be the prove it year, where Mariota would play the whole season so everyone can see if he is a franchise Quarterback or not. The Titans have had clear problems each week and only one of those has been addressed. After Cario Santos missed the game winning field goal against the Colts, and then 4 kicks against the Bills, he was cut. The consistent problem that has hurt the Titans throughout the season is the offensive line.
When it comes to running, Henry cannot get going due to the horrendous offensive line play. Last week, Mariota held the ball too long several times, as did Tannehill, but the offensive line is just not playing well enough. Lewan is getting penalties and getting run over. Guard Roger Saffold is criticizing his team while he cannot block anyone. And Rookie Nate Davis is getting destroyed and taking occasionally Penalties, but Rookies can take a while to get settled. I feel that Dennis Kelly needs to be involved in the offense because he has been our best offensive lineman. Kelly showed that he should be a starter after his fantastic performance in the first four weeks of the season. Kelly has filled in since being traded to the Titans in 2017 and he undoubtedly deserves to start.
Here is a chart I found interesting. It shows the run direction and the success rate of each starting running back.
Henry's direction and run success is balanced and looks solid. Additionally, Henry is averaging just 0.8 yards before contact which is the worst in the NFL. This shows that the offensive line really is struggling to block for Henry.
Another, smaller, problem with the Titans offense is the playcalling and the coaching. The playcalling is not as bad as many people say but it is not doing the offense any favors. I have noticed that no in-game changes or adjustments are being made to suit the flow of the game. Additionally, there have been a few repetitive play calls that do not seem to work. There have been far too many screens, especially to Dion Lewis. When Lewis checks into the game it makes it clear that it will be a passing play. Lewis has not made any great plays and often get stopped around the line of scrimmage. A lot of this is not on Lewis but I do not like the play call. Another thing the Titans did his hand the ball of to 4th string running back, Dayln Dawkins. Dawkins only had 2 carries, but the Titans have Derrick Henry and Dion Lewis. OC Arthur Smith is a first year play caller and there is a clear learning curve. I think Smith will greatly improve and I have a lot of faith in him. More so than the playcalling, the overall coaching and game management has been poor and sometimes costly. Vrabel has made countless errors over the last season and a half, many of which ended up costing the Titans the game. Vrabel should be on the hotseat, but I think it’s very unlikely he will get fired during the season. No matter how bad the season may turn out, I do not think the Titans will fire anyone during the season.
There are many question marks heading into this week and the game should be interesting to watch. The Titans have had countless issues so far this season, but hopefully it will all come together on Sunday against the Chargers.