By: Brendan Smart (@bsmart21)
The Tennessee Titans used the term “Win and We are In” as their motto to get through their week 17 matchup against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The Titans barely scooted past the Jaguars on Sunday evening, but the Titans defense stayed very stout throughout the frigid game. To say the offense was “clutch” is unfair, they were force fed points. Titans outside linebacker Brian Orakpo called this team “a cat with nine lives.” He is right, the Titans could have won the division weeks ago, but with the offense in a major drought, the Titans have been forced to lean on their relentless defense.
Titans Offensive Analysis:
Outside of a mean stiff arm from Mariota, and a well-executed Derrick Henry screen pass for a 66 yard touchdown, the Titans offense was bad. If you think the offense found its groove last night, you’re crazy. Mariota threw for 134 yards, and 66 of those yard were on one play. Not knocking Mariota, but rather the play calling. In the last two minutes of the first half, the Titans defense forced two turnovers in 28 seconds. Those turnovers on the Jaguars side of the field resulted in six points. Two Ryan Succop field goals, and while I love Succop, I, along with the fans love touchdowns more. It seems the offense has been given gifts all season by getting into the red zone only to stall miserably.
Robiskie’s Play calling:
The Titans were not shy about what they were going to do Sunday on the offensive end. Maybe they should have been shy? No, maybe they should have just given the media the playbook. Head coach Mike Mularkey has been giving away the game plan since he became head coach, and offensive coordinator Terry Robiskie is not helping. On Sunday, of course there were drops, but do not be blind to the run first offense that is going to kill this team eventually. Mularkey and Robiskie followed their words into Sunday evening’s game, and ran the ball for an outstanding total of 111 yards, oh, but 60 of those were from Marcus Mariota. Derrick Henry ran the plays called for him, but Jacksonville seemed to be a step ahead, I wonder why? They knew what was going to be ran before it even happened, because Robiskie never changes it up. Why is Mariota so successful in the no-huddle offense? Marcus makes the play calls and switches it up, players like it, and the defense is finally on their heels. Sunday that did not happen, and the only time the Titans drove down the field was on their final drive of the game. Not great numbers for Robiskie.
Marcus Mariota Summary:
Mariota played okay, throwing for 134 yards and a touchdown. Finishing the 2017 regular season with a 79.3 passer rating after having a 95.6 rating last season. He will be the first one to tell you that a lot of his mistakes were on him, and they were, but there were moments were Mariota was asked to be great in the fourth quarter with no rhythm what so ever, and that effects everything. Mularkey and Robiskie are heading out the door this season because of Mariota, and not because Mariota called it out. It is sad to see a kid with so much potential be limited like Marcus has been in 2017. Am I making excuses? No, but rather giving the fans a take of-Mariota’s progression would be way ahead of schedule in a more hybrid offense. It has been clear that Mariota’s success at the college level was based off his decision making and reading of defenses at the line. Robiskie does not allow changes to be made at the line, and call for the play called to be ran. That one dimensional offense has the Titans as one of the worst in the league heading into the playoffs.
The Tennessee Titans defense has been outstanding all season long. The Hall of Fame defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau has lead a 3-4 defensive monster that finished 2017 on a strong note Sunday evening. It is so fun seeing LeBeau get his guys in position for success. A secondary that many questioned coming into 2017 has been pretty solid. LeBeau led this maturing defense into 2017 with improvement in each game. The first three or four games, sacks did not come, but LeBeau adjusted, and put his guys in spots to succeed. Finishing with the fourth ranked rushing defense, it balanced out for the Titans. Especially on Sunday, it seemed if you did not look at league rankings, the Titans defense stepped up when it mattered consistently all season. Rookies like Adoree’ Jackson, and Jayon Brown stepped into starting and rotations that had a huge impact. LeBeau will be 81 next year, and while I don’t seem him slowing down, sometimes family calls, and LeBeau might hang it up. I would not want to see it, but I would also like to see him happy, he has coached the Titans defense beautifully in his three years in Nashville.
The Titans will take on the Kansas City Chiefs in Kansas City Saturday afternoon at 3:35 P.M. CT. It will be the Titans first postseason appearance in nine long years. Teams that start clicking at the end of the season seem to win Super Bowls, and maybe round one of the playoffs will begin that for the Titans offense. The defense is rolling and will need to continue rolling against an Alex Smith led Chiefs offense.