By: Brendan Smart (@BSmart21)
It all started with a pregame speech by Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Mularkey, “let's make this a statement game,” following that an onside kick to start the game, ending with a huge statement win for the Titans over the Green Bay Packers on Sunday. How did the Titans put it together against an elite quarterback in Aaron Rodgers?
Vince Young, Kerry Collins, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Jake Locker, and now Marcus Mariota have all auditioned to be the late great Steve McNair’s successor, but I think the Titans finally found their guy. “Everyone was watching Aaron Rodgers on Sunday, you know who I watching and who I like, Marcus Mariota” Colin Cowherd of “The Herd” on Fox Sports One praised the Titans quarterback. Mariota had four touchdowns on the day, and had a passer rating of 149. He wasn't alone, running back Demarco Murray opened the game with a 75 yard touchdown run, and a touchdown pass to Delanie Walker, the first pass of Murray’s career. The Titans offense was a well oiled machine on Sunday.
Looking at the defensive side of things, the Titans had Rodgers thinking twice about every throw. Mularkey put a lot of trust in his defense with an onside kick that had the Packers starting at the Titans 49 yard line, and it ended in a four and out for Green Bay. Linebacker Avery Williamson is one of the best in the NFL per (PFF) and the Titans have a solid front seven led by Brian Orakpo and Jurell Casey. The X factor each game with this team is their secondary, and passing defense, and they showed up in key moments on Sunday. Rookie Kevin Byard was flying all over the field, and Rashad Johnson joined him. Stopping the deep ball, but when sent in blitz packages were able to speed into the Packers backfield to stop their run. When the Titans defense is in a groove, it's tough to succeed against them.
Lastly, how about the coaching by Mularkey and his staff? Not only did Mularkey give an outstanding pregame speech, but he also coached like it. The staff coached like their season was on the line, which led to success from 53 men on their roster. Guys going all out, executing, and running through a very tough Green Bay defense. Offensive coordinator Terry Robiskie coached an excellent four quarters for the Titans, and scoring 47 points, the most since 2009 against the St. Louis Rams. The Special Teams unit forced a turnover, and kept field position in the Titans favor, and gave the Titans defense confidence heading into each drive.
Games like these are very crucial to a playoff run, and so will the game next week against the Indianapolis Colts. A divisional matchup, and the Titans are the clear favorite. The one thing the Titans have to worry about is, not playing down to their opponent. The Colts are way worse than expected, and the Titans have a chance to get closer to first place in the division. Execution was great Sunday, but execution is going to be key coming into the last six games of the season. Very favorable schedule for the Titans, and a chance to do big things in the first year of a changeover in management. Big things ahead.