Tennessee Titans: 5 Observations from game one
By Les Bailey
The Tennessee Titans lost their preseason opener to the Atlanta Falcons on Friday 31-24 at the Georgia Dome. Marcus Mariota was impressive after his slow start, but fans have to be impressed with the rookie’s ability to get up off the turf and show them why the Titans took him with the second pick in the NFL Draft.
More from Titan Sized: Marcus Mariota looks good after shaky start.
Mariota’s success on Friday night has been well chronicled, so I want to get into observations from the remainder of the team in the opener.
I was both impressed and disappointed in what I saw from the defense on Friday night. In the opening drive that featured Atlanta’s first team offense, quarterback Matt Ryan marched the ball down the field and quickly scored on a 13 yard pass to Julio Jones.
I liked what I saw in the run defense, but Ryan was able to shred the secondary during the drive. Ten plays, 91 yards in 4 minutes and 10 seconds.
In fact, during the entire evening, Atlanta managed only 69 yards on 32 carries for a 2.2 yard average. The longest run was for 12 yards.
Two factors in the success of the Dick LeBeau defense requires stopping the run and putting pressure on the quarterback. In the first series, letting Matt Ryan stand in the pocket and throw the ball was a disaster.
The Titans didn’t get much pressure on him and he made the secondary pay the price.
Jason McCourty did not play, and Ryan took the secondary apart. Many fans on Twitter were discouraged by the secondary, but with the rules in the NFL that favor wide receivers, I’m going to blame the pass rush and not the secondary.
This is a problem that the Titans need to address.
I wasn’t impressed with Bishop Sankey‘s performance. Granted, David Cobb got his yards against the second and third teams, but I liked what I saw from their fifth-round pick out of Minnesota.
Sankey ran the ball eight times for 15 yards for a 1.9 yard average. This was against what was the NFL’s worse run defense in 2014. This is not going to get the job done.
David Cobb didn’t get praise coming out of training camp, but turns out he is a gamer. Cobb had 11 caries for 53 yards and a 4.8 yard per carry average. The Titans needed a runner who can hit the middle and run North and South and I think they have that runner in the youngster out of Minnesota.
Antonio Andrews had a good night, albeit mostly against the second teamers, but had four carries for 13 yards and a touchdown.
For a team that wants to run the football in order to take the pressure off their rookie quarterback, the Titans may need to re-think the Bishop Sankey situation.
First off, the offensive line was unable to open much space for Bishop Sankey during the early part of the game. Too many times, the Atlanta defense got the inside push that kept Sankey from getting started.
Brian Schwenke played soft up the middle and was unable to hold his ground in the run game, and gave up the sack of Mariota in the early going.
This unit was banged up a lot in 2014, and unless the Titans address the situation, I see Marcus Mariota running for his life like Jake Locker did last year.
I was encouraged by what I saw in the receiving game on Friday night. Obviously, during Marcus Mariota’s time on the field, veteran Harry Douglas was Mariota’s go-to guy in a pinch.
The former Falcon caught three passes for 46 yards during the starters time, two of those were during Mariota’s touchdown drive. Veteran tight end, Anthony Fasano was a Mariota favorite as well.
During the Mettenberger period, I was encouraged with Dorial Green-Beckham. I’ll have to admit, I thought the rookie from Missouri would be a project this year, but he looks to be able to compete this year.
Green-Beckham caught only one pass for 32 yards, but he was a match-up nightmare for the defense. I don’t think he’s ready at this time to take on Darrell Revis, but I like the rookie’s potential.
Later in the game, Chase Coffman and Phillip Supernaw got me excited. With Fasano and Delannie Walker, I think one of these players will make this team, but probably not both. Supernaw was a factor in the special teams game, and maybe the Titans can find a way to keep both.
I was disappointed that we didn’t see Hakeem Nicks last night, but maybe in game two when we see more of Mariota.
What to do with Zach Mettenberger? After what we saw from Marcus Mariota and Zach Mettenberger last night is going to be a problem for the Titans coaching staff and general manager, Ruston Webster.
I think Marcus Mariota is the real deal, and barring injuries, do not need Zach Mettenberger standing on the sidelines wearing a ball cap all season.
Charlie Whitehurst proved last year, and last night that he is a good back-up quarterback, and you have to know that a quarterback-needy team is going to call…probably today about Mett’s status.
He was typical Mett last night, 8 for 11 passing for 129 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
There are a lot of teams out there, the New York Jets come to mind, that could use Zach Mettenberger. This would be a good time to shop the second-year quarterback, while his value is high.
I hate to see Mett go, but he needs to be a starter in this league somewhere, and barring a total Marcus Mariota meltdown, it won’t be in Music City.
Charlie Whitehurst was 5 of 5 last night for 39 yards, and a beautiful touchdown pass that was called back for offensive pass interference.
Next: Marcus Mariota is living the NFL dream