Titans vs Bucs: Game Day Keys to a Tennessee Titans Win


The first game of the 2015 season for the Tennessee Titans against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday afternoon is being hyped as the battle of the rookie quarterbacks, but neither Marcus Mariota or Jameis Winston are seeing it that way.

More at Titan Sized: Titans vs Buccaneers Injury Reports

Jameis Winston told a national media that they were like alpha-dog race horses and they would be checking each other out but in reality, they don’t really play against each other on the field. Mariota just dismisses the challenge as a game between the Titans and the Bucs.

So unless they decide to arm wrestle or have a boxing match during half-time, this will be a duel between Jameis Winston and Dick LeBeau when the Bucs have the ball and feature Mariota vs Lovie Smith when the Titans are on offense.

This game is not garnering a lot of national attention, but in my opinion I think it is the biggest game of the year for both teams.

Both teams had identical 2-14 seasons in 2014, both will be unwrapping brand new quarterbacks and both head coaches are in their second seasons with their jobs on the line.

You have to think that a win in this game will be a positive first step for the season and a loss could signal another year of the SOS

So what are some of the keys for a Tennessee Titans victory in Tampa on Sunday?

Put Pressure on Jameis Winston

The main ingredient in a Dick LeBeau defense is putting pressure on the quarterback, and although the Titans were unable to provide much pressure during the preseason you have to think the now 78 year-old defensive wizard didn’t unwrap his complete package in the preseason.

We know two things about the Bucs offense. The offensive line is full of rookies who are not yet seasoned and working as a unit and secondly, when Jameis Winston gets flushed either he will make a big play or throw an interception. Hey…that’s what he does.

Dick LeBeau’s success against rookie quarterbacks since his first year with the Pittsburgh Steelers, per Jason Wolf at the Tennessean is 26-3.

“I’m proud of the record. I’m not going to give it back,” LeBeau said, “but I don’t think it’s anything to talk about. It’ll come down to how we play this Sunday. That’s all that matters now. It doesn’t matter what we’ve done in the past. We have to get after this guy, and beat this guy.”

Stop Doug Martin

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are hoping that Doug Martin can return to his 2012 stats when the fourth-year running back had his best year, putting up 1454 yards rushing with a 4.6 yard average. He has failed in the last two years to live up to those numbers, and the Titans need to keep him contained in this game.

The one defensive bright spot the Titans brass saw in the preseason was a vast improvement in stopping the run.

In fact, even with NT Sammie Hill out, they were able to shut down the run game in all four games, and that needs to continue into the regular season.

Not only is All-Pro linebacker, Brian Orakpo a great pass rusher, he is very good at sealing the edge and stopping the run game.

If the Titans can shut down Doug Martin and force the rookie quarterback into passing situations on third down, it gives the Titans a decided advantage.

Titans Tight Ends Need To Step Up

Let’s face it. The Tampa 2 and Tampa 3 defense is designed to stop receivers from making big chunks of yards downfield and lets the opposition have a lot of short passes. A lot like the old Tom Landry prevent defense with the Dallas Cowboys.

With an unsure Justin Hunter and rookie Dorial Green-Beckham working downfield, the slot receivers and tight ends become a crucial part of the game plan.

We’ve seen how well Marcus Mariota is at reading the defense already and how well he is able to take what it gives him. The Tampa 2 will give him a lot of short options and it will be up to the receivers to make some yards after the catch.

This game plan will only work if the defense can keep the game close.

Marcus Mariota

As we saw in the preseason after the first quarter debacle in Atlanta, Marcus Mariota has taken care of the ball. He got lucky a couple of times, but he needs to continue to protect the football at all costs.

Attacking the Tampa 2 successfully depends on keeping the score close, so Mariota can not create turnovers that give Jameis Winston a chance to get ahead in this game.

It will be up to the newly revamped offensive line to keep our rookie quarterback upright and a little help from the running game could well be the deciding factor in the battle of rookie quarterbacks.

Running Game

As I said in the previous paragraph, the Titans need to find some yards on the ground and keep Mariota out of those third and long situations.

The Tampa defense is pretty good and especially their defensive line. Bishop Sankey and Antonio Andrews will need to have a good day if they want to win this one.

Head coach Ken Whisenhunt was unsure if newly acquired running back, Terrance West would be up to speed for this game, but I expect to see him in some situations.

West probably hasn’t digested the complete playbook at this juncture, but I would think the Titans will run some plays that feature him.

It’s a Wrap

Although they won’t be on the field at the same time and physically battling each other, I think this game does come down to a rookie quarterback matchup.

The rookie quarterback who makes the fewest mistakes, wins this game, and my money is on Marcus Mariota making the fewest mistakes!

Tennessee Titans win this one 27 -14

Next: Projecting Marcus Mariotas Sunday Numbers

More from Titan Sized